Wittgensteins Notion of Language Game

Wittgenstein used the term language game to designate forms of language simpler than the entirety of a language itself. These forms of language are interwoven by family resemblance. For Wittgenstein, language game recognizes the fact that the act of speaking language is an activity, a form of life. As Wittgenstein noted

Let us imagine a language ...The language is meant to serve for communication between a builder A and an assistant B. A is building with building-stones there are blocks, pillars, slabs and beams. B has to pass the stones, and that in the order in which A needs them. For this purpose they use a language consisting of the words block, pillar, slab, beam. A calls them out --B brings the stone which he has learnt to bring at such-and-such a call.

Now, language game may be used to refer to 1) fictional languages that are simpler than conventional language 2) simple uses of language exhibited when children are first taught language, 3) specific regions of language which possess distinct grammar and relations, and 4) all of a natural language composed of a family of language games.

The meanings which can be derived from concepts blend into one another. Because the rules of language are analogous to the rules of games, there is something in language which is analogous to making a move. In short, meanings can only be found in the activities of humans. As Wittgenstein argued

We name things and then we can talk about them can refer to them in talk. As if what we did next were given with the mere act of naming. As if there were only one thing called talking about a thing  This, with its correlate, ostensive definition, is, we might say, a language game on its own.


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