The White Knight's suggestion to sing a song to Alice gives rise to the following logical imbroglio:I'm not sure this is right. There are plenty of examples from ordinary usage where 'the name of the name' does not elevate us into metalanguage. Marret is thinking of an exemplary instance such as (as a guess) 'the song's name is 'To Be Or Not To Be'; this name is a quotation': but not all name-of-the-names are like this. To pluck one from the top of my head: "The name of the song is 'You'll Never Walk Alone'. This song is called (ie the name of this name is...) 'the Anfield Anthem', on account of its close association with Liverpool Football Club." Other examples suggest themselves: for example, the distinction between the name of the play 'Macbeth', and the name of this name, 'The Scottish Play' -- because the name of the play itself is deemed unlucky to utter. Besides, as Marret goes on to say:"Let me sing you a song to comfort you." [...] "The name of the song is called 'Haddock's Eyes'."There is no doubt that the White Knight's logic is faulty, but the reader still finds it hard to grasp his mistake unless he takes a closer look at the text. One could think, like Alice, that he is the victim of a semantic confusion, and that he should have said "The name of the song is 'Haddocks' Eyes'," but he points out that he did not make a mistake and that he knows the difference between the name of the song and the name of the name of the song. Alice is mistaken when she thinks she can make a distinction between "the name of the song" and "what the song is called." The difference, if any, the White Knight points out, is purely semantic, because of the ambiguity of the expression "what it is called" (in French, the distinction has to be made between "c'est ainsi qu'elle s'appelle" and "c'est ainsi qu'on l'appelle"). Alice's error thus finds a logical justification in the explanation of the White Knight, who takes advantage of it to underline his mastery of the subtleties of semantics, preventing us from interpreting his first assertion as a faulty performance. Equivalents may actually be found for the expression "what the name is called," such as "a title" or even "a noun phrase." The most disconcerting thing in the first assertion of the White Knight is that he should choose an expression from the same level as the name to qualify the latter. He remains within the register of the specific, instead of finding an equivalent in a generic category-a class of names. If he makes it a point of honor to distinguish between the level of language and metalanguage (the name of the name), he contents himself with bringing metalanguage down to the level of language, thus confusing these two levels again.
"Oh, that's the name of the song is it?" Alice said, trying to feel interested.
"No, you don't understand," the Knight said, looking a little vexed. "That's what the name is called. The name really is 'The Aged Aged Man.'"
'Then I ought to have said 'that's what the song is called'?" Alice corrected herself.
"No, you oughtn't: that's quite another thing! The song is called 'Ways And Means': but that's only what it's called, you know!"
"Well, what is the song, then?" said Alice, who was by this time completely bewildered.
"I was coming to that," the Knight said. 'The song really is 'A-sitting On A Gate': and the tune's my own invention."(Through the Looking Glass, 305-306)
In order to make the White Knight the victim of such a confusion, it seems that Carroll himself had to be able to make the distinction between these two levels, and we may go as far as saying that to set his paradox, such an intuition was necessary. In both cases he seems to point out that the distinction between language and metalanguage does not go without saying. In contrast to Alice's discourse that remains concerned with the relationship between name and thing ('That's the name of the song;" "that's what the song is called;" "what is the song?"), the White Knight sets the subtlety of his own logical processes, which imply the necessary distinction of the level of metalanguage ("what the name is called") although he immediately makes it equivalent to the level of language. The White Knight thus stands out as a parodic double of the author.Quite right.