Communication is the passage of information from a sender to a receiver in a manner that is coherent to both. For communication to be complete, the receiver must give a feedback showing acknowledgement and understanding of the information communicated. In human communications, language is an important aspect of passing information from one person to the other. This leads to development of the language game concept. Various theories have tried to explain the language game.
Language game is drawn from a philosophical view that the language use can be through the way it is simply used to portray an action which is cemented into the language (Wittgenstein, 2). Simple elements of language may not be defined easily but the way in which they are used has been acquired when a child is learning its first language, the child then associates this simple words with certain meaning and as a result it is able to communicate its desires. The child here is not in a position to understand the meaning of the word but quickly learns to associate the word with the object at hand. Language games relate to fictional aspects of languages uses that are simpler that what is of everyday use. In terms of training and child development, language games entail simple language uses that a child is first taught. The concept also relates to specific areas of language, each with its own grammars, syntax and association to other specific language games.
Language games are mostly used at an early age for example when a child is learning the language. The teacher may show the child a picture of an object and ask them to name it. Here the child goes back to the prior information he was given as says the word he was told that represents the picture. Therefore questions of the meaning of the word used are not raised since the child is only acquiring language.
There are several other examples in which simple parts of language are taking in as they are and make part of understanding the language in general. This range from words used to identify color. These are handed down as one is at the early stages of language acquisition. It does not mean that language is meaningless as there are words that when used together communicate actual meaning, an example like green berries. since someone knows what berries are and can identify the color green he/she will be able to pick out the exact item in question by associating meaning of the two word used together to form the phrase.
Meaning in language is drawn from the representations of the words in the language at hand. Taking these representations one is able to associate the meanings of these objects with those of others to create meaning in a phrase like green berries, having said this we cannot overlook the functional words that in themselves to not represent specific objects rather they serve the purpose of giving relation to words for example point a direction. These words are like demonstratives this, these, that and those. These words are used to relate two objects in terms of distance or direction. You cannot deduce the meaning of the word that, since in acquiring the language we learn the function of such words to serve the purpose of giving specific meaning to a sentence or phrase.
The main purpose of language is communication and since there is an ever ending need by human being to make utterances to express their different desires. As a result language will be dynamic, it will do well to focus on the purpose of language rather than dwell too much on the meaning of specific utterances. If we do this we risk losing or distorting the ease with which we are able to communicate. This will in turn make is difficult for people who want to learn the language in question as a second language.
The ‘language game’ concept underscores the fact that in speaking a language , we engage in part of activities, or a given form of life. Forms of life are depicted as varying and, dependent on such factors as cultures, contexts, histories, etc. these factors appeal to different forms of life. It is the form of life that is common to mankind and constitutes a, shared human behavior. According to Wittgenstein (72), without language people cannot communicate and without speech use and writing, communication is not possible. Through communication via speech, listeners integrate both the visual and auditory information in a speech perception. This is known as the McGurk effect (Yunqing et al, 23). Language games enhance facial communication and use of gestures. The facial cues also facilitate the process of language comprehension in both a bilingual and a multilingual speech environment. A facial cue provides significant information about the linguistic, social and cultural identities of a speaker or a listener. The language-face congruencies reflect the influences of automatic priming from a visual perception of the face to the brain’s language system. When human face and language cues are congruent, there would be facilitation. The facilitation occurs as a result of the spread in the activation from either the linguistic identity or socio-cultural identities, or both, of the supposed face to the identities of the languages required for production.
In saying that we should focus on the communicative purpose of language, we do not overlook the meaning that is carried by the specific words in a language. Rather it is, important to understand that just like in a game every move counts to achieve and end game. The same move too can be made at a different time and signify something totally different. A word in a language once learnt can be used differently to convey different meanings. If focus is put on meaning alone there is risk of failing to acquire the language in question successfully.
There are various representations of different objects by the use of different word, from names of people, color, shapes, pictures and objects. All these we learn to perceive at an early age as we learn language. These word representations are accepted and mastered. In a language game one will use this prior knowledge to create meaning. Of course this is after the repeated practice of learning the word and associating it with its representation in the world around them.
The concept of language games helps us to be able to fully grasp the role of simple language in our everyday communication while at the same time not undermining the meaning of language, taking an example of someone who is deaf, dumb and blind. This person will use what is around them and create meaning in a language he/she understands, with the help of care giver. These representations will help communicate need and at the same time understand the world around them. There is little that is done to give meaning to these linguistic presentations.
Language games can be linked with religion and beliefs. This helps in understanding the evolution of language. According to Wittgenstein (93), religion demonstrates that human soul can exist even if the body has degenerated. Human beings are equipped with several ways of communication other than speech such as religion, and use of different senses. Speech forms only one of the several ways through which human beings communicate. This has encouraged social co-operation across human populations, thereby cutting successfully through the cross-cultural conflicts of interest.
All human and non-human co-existence are characteristic of ever-growing conflicts of interest. The result is substantial culmination of violence in quest of territories thereby side-lining co-operation for selfish interests. Struggle for survival in the particular environments contributes to unhealthy competition instead of co-operation. Main essence of language is to foster communication that culminates into a fair understanding of conflicts of interest and create co-operation for the survival of all. Non-human animals exhibit many forms of competition and conflicts of interest due to lack of a common language.
Human communication became easy because of language development. Historians have not been able to explain this evolutionary bit. They have not successfully demonstrated why only human beings possess language, while other animals’ only use some other forms of communication. Human speech is not in essence a complete adaptation to communication. It requires other forms of adaptive techniques such as cognitive senses in order to give wholesome communication. Observational and learning skills become essential for humans to achieve the adaptive techniques that make communication wholesome.
Every day we express ourselves we do use the rules of language without realizing it, especially if it’s our first language. In acquiring the first language we learn to create meaning from phrases and use words that represent certain thing without thinking of the meaning of these words. This is why native speakers of a certain language are able to pass down the language without subjecting their children to a classroom session. The constant words uttered followed by the expression and actions help a child to express their own needs in time.
The game theory annuls a widely held notion that a language is separate and relates to a reality. As such, language as game does not need to be clearly defined to be understood. Language games are the simpler aspects of a language that are less complex, in relation to the language itself. As such language cannot be entirely taken as a fundamental correlation between a name and an object. The name-object correlation cannot be used as the main link between a language and the world. The relationship only makes some sense within a broader context of a language. Under language game, a meaning of a word is often not only vague but also fluid.
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Yunqing Lia, Jing Yangb, Suzanne Scherfa and Ping LiBrain. Two faces, two languages:
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