resting on each one of them. And they ... began to speak in other tongues .... " Yet their speaking is not meant as a mere facility of the tongue, but as filled with the holy spirit, the pneuma hagion. Even the biblical idea of language referred to here had been preceded by that Greek description of language of which Aristotle gives the standard formulation. Logos, statement, is seen in terms of the phonetic phenomenon of speech. At the beginning of a treatise later entitled peri hermeneias, De Interpretatione, On Interpretation , Aristotle says:

Now, what (takes place) in the making of vocal sounds is a show of what there is in the soul in the way of passions, and what is written is a show of the vocal sounds. And just as writing is not the same among all (men), so also the vocal sounds are not the same. On the other hand, those things of which these (sounds and writings) are a show in the first place, are among all (men) the same passions of the soul, and the matters of which these (the passions) give likening representations are also the same.

These lines of Aristotle constitute the classical passage that allows us to see the structure of which language as vocal sounds is a part: the letters are signs of sounds, the sounds are signs of mental experiences, and these are signs of things. The sign relation constitutes the struts of the structure. We proceed too crudely, though, when we speak everywhere without further definition of signs, of something that signifies and to some extent shows something else. Although Aristotle expressly uses the word semeia, signs, he speaks at the same time of sumbola and homoiomata.

What matters here is that we keep the entire structure of sign relations before our eyes, because it has remained the standard for all later considerations of language, although with numerous modifications.

Language is represented in terms of speech in the sense of vocal sounds. But does not this idea represent a situation in the very nature of language and demonstrable for any language