The idea that language is a game at which some players are more skilled than others has a bearing on the vexed relationship between loneliness and speech. Speech failures, communication breakdowns, misunderstandings, mishearings, episodes of muteness, stuttering and stammering, word forgetfulness, even the inability to grasp a joke: all these things invoke loneliness, forcing a reminder of the precarious, imperfect means by which we express our interiors to others. They undermine our footing in the social, casting us as outsiders, poor or non-participants.