sufficiently clear for our present needs. However, this is what constitutes the peculiarity of listening: it receives its definiteness and clarity from what indications the grant gives to it. But one thing is clear even now: the listening we have now in mind lends toward the grant, as Saying to which the nature of language is akin. If we succeed in gaining insight into the possibility of a thinking experience with language, it might clarify the sense in which thinking is a listening to the grant.*
Finally, the first lecture covers a third point, the transformation of the title of our lecture series. The transformation begins by removing the title's presumptuousness and triteness, by adding a question mark which puts both language and essential being into question, and turns the title into a query: The Nature?—of Language?
Now the point of our attempt is to prepare a thinking experience with language. But since to think is before all else to listen, to let ourselves be told something and not to ask questions, we must strike the question mark out again when a thinking experience is at stake, and yet we can no longer simply return to the original form of the title. If we are to think through the nature of language, language must first promise itself to us, or must already have done so. Language must, in its own way, avow to us itself—its nature. Language persists as this avowal. We hear it constantly, of course, but do not give it thought. If we did not hear it everywhere, we could not use one single word of language. Language is active as this promise. The essential nature of language makes itself known to us as what is spoken, the language of its nature. But we cannot quite hear this primal knowledge, let alone "read" it. It runs: The being of language—the language of being.**
What we have just said is an imposition. If it were merely
* "... in welchem Sinne das Denken ein Horen der Zusage ist." Zusage as here used by Heidegger exceeds the meaning of the translation "grant." Zusage is a Sage, a Saying. To put it brutally: Being says, and language follows Saying in speech. (Tr.)
** "Das Wesen der Sprache: Die Sprache des Wesens." The context here seems to demand the translation "being" for Wesen, otherwise translated variously: nature, essential nature, or essence.(Tr.)