The Meta Model Distortions

Linguistic Presuppositions – Accepting What I Say

As a communicator, wouldn’t it be great if people accepted what you said without question sometimes? Linguistic presuppositions are the most powerful of the Meta model and Milton model language patterns.

A favorite with parents is to say “Do you want to go to bed now or in 30 minutes” There is an illusion of choice, but both choices get your outcome. Of course, as we get older and smarter we see through some of the illusions (or do we?)

Unfortunately, this power can be used for bad things as well as good. We probably have no idea of the kinds of things we take for granted in order to make sense of someone’s communication or to create a well-formed sentence.

They can also take away our sense of choice when we use them on ourselves, or others use them. We can feel painted into a corner. “Have you stopped being so noisy?” “Have you learned to control your temper yet?” When did you get so bossy?”


This is the simplest kind of presupposition.

  • Barry ate the hamburger. This presupposes a being called Barry and a hamburger exist. We accept these things and our focus is on the action of eating. Barry and the hamburger are in the background.

Linguistic Presuppositions of Awareness

Here we are not questioning the second part of the sentence. This is a useful pattern

  • Do you realize you are the first person to get all the questions correct? There is no question of correctness, just whether you realize.
  • You may notice a small icon in the top right corner. There is an icon; you just have to find it.
  • Are you aware you are already in trance? You are in trance; you just need to be aware of it.

take-out-garbageLinguistic Presuppositions of Time

This includes the use of time or change of time words like begin, end, before, after, during, begin, end, future, when, again, still and soon.

Tense type words like was, had, been, went (past tense), am, have, are, stop, start, continue (present tense) will, going, getting (future) can create powerful assumptions.

  • Would you mind taking the garbage out before you pick up Billy? You are picking up Billy.
  • Are you still drinking? You have been drinking; the only question is whether you have stopped.
  • I saw her at the school again. She has been at the school previously.

Linguistic Presuppositions of Order

When we use words like first, once, second, twice, last, another, again, next, we are presupposing a series of things.

  • My second husband is very funny. This presupposes a first husband.
  • My first husband liked baseball. This presupposes number one is no longer a husband, that there are future husband/s, or that she intends to get married again sometime. Using ordinal words can be insightful like this – often the person is using them unconsciously – she may not consciously consider remarrying.

Exclusive or

Here we exclude one thing or the other.

  • Would you like white or whole meal? You are getting a sandwich.
  • Would you prefer one year’s hosting or quarterly? You are getting hosting.

Inclusive or

Here there is a perceived sense of choice without really having it.

  • Do you want to pay for this now or when you pick it up? There is no question of payment.
  • Do you want to have your bath before dinner or after? You are going to have a bath, just a matter of when.

Adverbs and Adjectives

This is Ly adverbs and descriptive words presupposing certain qualities. Words like just, only, even. Just can be particularly insidious, discounting effort and talent, but also making things appear simple and easy.

  • It’s just about perseverance. Is perseverance really a simple thing?
  • She is just a homemaker. Dismisses and discounts this role.
  • It was a wonderful day. You enjoyed something about the day.
  • My friend is as cheerful as her mother is. Apart from the existence of the friend and her mother, we don’t question the mother’s cheerfulness.
  • Even my dog knows that. Presupposes she is not very smart.

Meta Model Recovery Questions

  • How specifically do you know that?

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