Thursday, December 29, 2011

Principles for preaching- words don't (primarily) mean things

Words don't (primarily) mean things.
They do things.
Even when they mean things they are doing things, whether it is making (notice the 'ing') sense of experience or performing some interpersonal role.

When you prepare to preach, the most important question is not "What am I trying to mean?", but "What am trying to do ?". If you get the second question clear, the first question will fall into place.

When I write the words above, I'm not (primarily) trying to put together ideas. No, I'm trying to remind myself of the purpose involved in any speaking, and I'm letting you in on this reminder.

Now, I've been reading Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations. I'm not through it yet, but I think he is perhaps a bit harsh on Augustine. (somehow missing Augustines focus on desire???)
Anyway, he was big on the idea of the function of words. Words 'mean' only within certain language games. He maybe goes to far and cuts off any connection with the outside world (it is all game), but it is interesting none the less.
Can any of you smart people let me know how linguists feel about the philosophical 'turn to linguistics'? In some ways the functional approach of Wittgenstein seems similar to the Systemic Functional Linguistics of MAK Halliday (only Wittgenstein is heaps easier to read!)

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