I've been reading my students' ideas about the way technologies of writing affect what is written & have been struck by how common is the idea that thought precedes language; that language is a transcription of thought. This makes so much sense but is so obviously wrong. I'm trying to figure out how "Slab" & "bring-me-a-slab" & "Bring me a slab" are similar & different. Does it matter that a word may be used as a sentence or a sentence understood as a word? My sense is that Wittgenstein is not so interested in the semantics as in pointing out that we know what we mean in certain situations. It is this knowing-what-we-mean that is irreducible, that flows directly from our forms of life.

What is understood: at the end of remark 20 W points out that in Russian one says "stone red" not "the stone is red." In my attempts to learn Vietnamese I have run across many such "subtractions," particularly having to do with time. In Vietnamese one assumes the present tense unless the context or the grammar indicate otherwise. These are things one simply knows because one has a Vietnamese form of life.


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