53. Our language-game (48) has various possibilities; there is a variety of cases in which we should say that a sign in the game was the name of a square of such-and-such a colour. We should say so if, for instance, we knew that the people who used the language were taught the use of the signs in such-and-such a way. Or if it were set down in writing, say in the form of a table, that this element corresponded to this sign, and if the table were used in teaching the language and were appealed to in certain disputed cases.
We can also imagine such a table's being a tool in the use of the language. Describing a complex is then done like this: the person who describes the complex has a table with him and looks up each element of the complex in it and passes from this to the sign (and the one who is given the description may also use a table to translate it into a picture of coloured squares). This table might be said to take over here the role of memory and association in other cases. (We do not usually carry out the order "Bring me a red flower" by looking up the colour red in a table of colours and then bringing a flower of the colour that we find in the table; but when it is a question of choosing or mixing a particular shade of red, we do sometimes make use of a sample or table.)
If we call such a table 'the expression of a rule of the language-game', it can be said that what we call a 'rule' of a language-game may have very different roles in the game.


  1. Time for some of the detail he was insisting on in the previous sections.
  2. The table is not immune from the insistence that rules are (no more than) stable patterns of human behaviour - that, as one might say - the extension of the rule is the rule; that the pattern of behaviour comes first, and is last.
  3. W. is not going to be trapped into returning to traditional abstract philosophy, making a definitive statement such as "A colour table is the expression of a rule of a language game", as though he has thus, by pure thought, made some kind of profound, abstract, general, discovery, about the relationship between the concepts to which 'rule' and 'table' refer. This must be resisted. What we ordinarily call 'rules' have various roles in the LG, and what we call 'tables' sometimes can be seen playing some of these same roles. That is all. (Compare the final sentence of 69 where, after a discussion in which he himself has used the words 'exact' and 'inexact', he reminds the reader, the interlocutor, and perhaps himself that "you still owe me a definition of 'exactness'" - which we will not be able to provide. The fuzziness is everywhere)