"But how many kinds of sentences are there? Say assertion, question, and command? There are countless kinds: countless different kinds of use of what we call “symbols”, “words”, “sentences”. And this multiplicity is not something fixed, given once for all; but new types of language, new language-games, as we may say, come into existence others become obsolete and get forgotten. …
Here the term “language game” is meant to bring into prominence the fact that the speaking of language is part of an activity, or of a life-form.
Review the multiplicity of language-games in the following examples, and in others:
- Giving orders and obeying them-
- Describing the appearance of an object, or giving its measurements-
- Reporting an event-
- Speculating about the event-
- Forming and testing a hypothesis-
- Presenting the results of an experiment in tables and diagrams-
- Making up a story; and reading it-
- Play-acting-
- Singing catches-
- Guessing riddles-
- Making a joke; telling it-
- Solving a problem in practical arithmetic-
- Translating from one language into another-
- Requesting, thanking, cursing, greeting, praying.
It is interesting to compare the multiplicity of the tools in language and of the ways they are used, the multiplicity of kinds of word and sentence, with what logicians have said about the structure of language (Including [L. Wittgenstein])."
(LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN, Philosophical Investigations )

Language Game: The Builders Language (a Cartridge) 

Wittgenstein's first example of a language game is implemented as a Pico-8 cartridge. Pico-8 is a fantasy console for making tiny games, with an 8x8 sprite editor, and room for 35 KB of content. The game puts you in the position of an assistant B, bringing building-stones to a builder A. The 'builders game' passage goes,

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.
--Conceive this as a complete primitive language.

The finished version of the game will also include slabs and beams.

Screenshot of The Builder's Language with a hand in front of it

Theory: Language Games

The "language-game" approach to theorizing language, popularized and named by Ludwig Wittgenstein, imagines language as a range of practices driven by shared social understandings: we play "games" like telling jokes, asking and answering questions, saying "present" in turn at the beginning of a class, etc. A complexity of this form of theory is that it adamantly refuses to say decisively what the "games" in "language-games" are (refuses to presuppose some ontology in which to theorize).

Created by Qfwfq on 2019/01/11 00:52


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Titled, "Untitled" - Kavi Duvvoori - The Committee Made in Charge of Such Matters - Please Reuse or Distribute Further Only With a Measure of Generosity, Care, and Sense