§19. It is easy to imagine a language consisting only of orders and reports in battle.—Or a language consisting only of questions and expressions for answering yes and no. And innumerable others.—And to imagine a language means to imagine a form of life.

But what about this: is the call "Slab!" in example (2) a sentence or a word?If a word, surely it has not the same meaning as the like-sounding word of our ordinary language, for in §2 it is a call. But if a sentence, it is surely not the elliptical sentence: "Slab!" of our language.—As far as the first question goes you can call "Slab!" a word and also a sentence; perhaps it could be appropriately called a 'degenerate sentence' (as one speaks of a degenerate hyperbola); in fact it is our 'elliptical' sentence.—But that is surely only a shortened form of the sentence "Bring me a slab", and there is no such sentence in example (2).—But why should I not on the contrary have called the sentence "Bring me a slab" a lengthening of the sentence "Slab!"?—Because if you shout "Slab!" you really mean: "Bring me a slab".—But how do you do this: how do you mean that while you say "Slab!"? Do you say the unshortened sentence to yourself? And why should I translate the call "Slab!" into a different expression in order to say what someone means by it? And if they mean the same thing—why should I not say: "When he says 'Slab!' he means 'Slab!'"? Again, if you can mean "Bring me the slab", why should you not be able to mean "Slab!"?—But when I call "Slab!", then what I want is, that he should bring me a slab!—Certainly, but does 'wanting this' consist in thinking in some form or other a different sentence from the one you utter?—



  1. A 'form of life' is not much more than the language, the samples, the pointing procedure, arrows on tables, and the set of practices in which they are embedded.
  2. The conic section which is a hyperbola can be progressively altered until it becomes a straight line.
  3. There is no absolutely preferred language which somehow captures the sense that is in our mind, independent of the use - perhaps because it has broken up the sense into its atomic components. Wanting the slab, as something in our mind, does not somehow require that we think the standard English sentence. There is symmetry between the two languages. The speaker of language (2) can say that when the normal English speaker says (NI)"Bring me a slab!" he means (2)"Slab!", just as we can say that when she says (2)"Slab!" she means (NE)"Bring me a slab!". Both are right. Both mean the same, which is demonstrated in use by what happens when they are said.