On the Grammar and Etymology of “Being” • 71

The standard way of examining language is still the grammatical way. Among words and their forms, it finds some that are deviations, inflections of the basic forms. The basic position of the noun (the substantive) is the nominative singular: for example, ὀ κύκλος, the circle. The basic position of the verb is the first person singular present indicative: for example, λέγω, I say. The infinitive, in contrast, is a particular modus verbi, an ἔγκλισις. Of what sort? This is what we must now determine. It is best to do so with an example. One form of λέγω is λέξαιντο, “they (the men, in this case) could be called and addressed”—as traitors, for example. This inflection consists more precisely in the form’s making manifest another person (the third), another number (not the singular, but the plural), another voice (passive instead of active), another tense (aorist instead of present), another mood (not indicative but optative). What is named in the word λέξαιντο is not addressed as actually present at hand, but [50|69] rather represented as only possibly in being.

The inflected form of the word makes all of this manifest in addition and lets it be understood immediately. To make something else manifest in addition, to allow it to arise and be seen in addition—this is the function of the ἔγκλισις, in which the word that stands straight inclines to the side. This is why it is called ἔγκλισις παρεμφατικός. The descriptive word παρεμφαίνω is used genuinely according to the fundamental relation of the Greeks to beings as what is constant.

This word is found, for example, in Plato (Timaeus 50e), in an important context. The question here is the essence of the becoming of what becomes.


Introduction to Metaphysics, 2nd ed. (GA 40) by Martin Heidegger

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