Sunday, April 22, 2012

More Than Words

I must begin this post by stating that I liked this reading of Wittgenstein more so than the last one. Even though he still had numbered points, I liked that he explained each point within a detailed paragraph, instead of breaking it down into smaller decimals. It was much easier to follow along this way, and while I know I didn't understand everything that he tried to talk about, I can definitely say that I understand more.

Now what I have chosen to write my blog post on is on the idea of tones and facial expressions. It takes a lot more than just words for language to make complete sense. There are plenty of sentences and ideas that can be taken more than just one way, so it is important to be able to pick up on a person's tone, or to be able to read their facial expressions in order to realize what they are meaning. For example, "I'm great" is a fairly common response to the question, "How are you?" and those two words can mean a number of things. Perhaps the person really is great, which you can probably tell by their smile, but perhaps the person is actually quite the opposite of great, in which case it is necessary to realize that in the tone of their voice. There are other times when you can tell exactly what a person is thinking or feeling without them having to say anything, simply because of the look on their face. Although words are clearly extremely important, it takes more than that to form a successful language.


  1. It's so true that tones and facial expressions are a language since they contribute to the overall meaning and messages we create with our language. The most modern (and rather silly) example I can think of is texting. By communicating in this way, the person on the other hand cannot be sure of the tone that is being implied. I'm sure many of us have been in a situation in which we've received what we thought was a snappy or sarcastic reply back to a text message we sent. From there, it's a downward spiral toward awkwardness and hurt feelings. Therefore, it's true that tones and facial expressions are key.

  2. I also like this format so much better.
    This is a really good point, Cassidy. Wittgenstein says words have an associated meaning that we give them but he doesn't account for multiple meanings, inflection, sarcasm, etc. And I like what you said about facial expressions, because that is after all what makes it hard to tell what a person really means when e-mailing or texting (as Catherine says). Do you think Wittgenstein was unfamiliar with sarcasm?

  3. I would like to think that Wittgenstein was familiar with sarcasm mostly because I believe him to have been a pretty smart guy. Nowadays, sarcasm seems so completely ubiquitous we rarely notice. Not only that, I think most people use it without noticing. I know that I often say sarcastic things at the wrong time or in the wrong place and usually when I don't really mean to be sarcastic. I really like all of your points about sarcasm and tone, particularly because I feel as though Wittgenstein would not only agree but appreciate the idea and prevalence of sarcasm.

  4. Thanks a lot, Cassidy. You got this stuck in my head: