I'm reading a Mathematical Logic book (A course in mathematical logic, Bell.M ) and the author is saying that the symbols of a formal language don't have a well-defined shape, he's claiming that they are abstract entities.
I think he is saying that even though symbols are usually defined by its shape, the symbols of a formal language have 'abstract' shapes.
He goes on explaining that we couldn't possible be able to define an exact shape in a formal language because that wouldn't be reproduceble in all metalanguages studying the symbols of that objective language ( the formal language ).
He proposes them, that when we are studying a formal language ( objective language ) by means of a meta-language, and we want to reference the objects of the formal language ( its symbols ), we use as name, metalinguistic symbols.
By doing this, we don't have to worry with the "shape" of the symbols in the objective languaeg when we are changing the meta-language that is studying the formal language, because the shape is not well-defined, they are allowed to vary with the meta-language.
All in all, i think he is claiming that the symbols, lexicon or alphabet of a formal language, and hence the syntax is independent of its visual representation.
I'm curious if this approach is worth to make and also if people are worried to make such distinction ( or is it only him ) ?
Also, i would like to be corrected if i misunderstood the point.