call the being of language in its totality "Saying"-and confess that even so we still have not caught sight of what unifies those ties.
We have a tendency today to we the word "Saying," like so many other words in our language, mostly in a disparaging sense. Saying is accounted a mere say-so, a rumor unsupported and hence untrustworthy. Here "Saying" is not understood in this sense, nor in its natural, essential sense of Saga. Is it used perhaps in the sense of Georg Trakl's line "the venerable saying o( the blue source''? In keeping with the most ancient usage of the word we understand saying in terms of showing, pointing out, signaling. Jean Paul called the phenomena of nature "the spiritual pointer" or "spiritual index finger."*
The essential being of language is Saying as Showing. Its showing character is not baaed on signs of any kind; rather, all signs arise from a showing within whose realm and for whose purposes they can be signs.
In view of the structure of Saying, however, we may not consider showing as exclusively, or even decisively, the property of human activity. Self-showing appearance is the mark. of the presence and absence of everything that is present, of every kind and rank.. Even when Showing is accomplished by our human saying, even then this showing, this pointer, is preceded by an indication that it will let itself be shown.
Only when we give thought to our human saying in this light, only then do we arrive at an adequate definition of what is essentially present in all speaking. Speaking is known as the articulated vocalization of thought by means of the organs o( speech. But speaking is at the same time also listening. It is the custom to put speaking and listening in opposition: one man speaks, the other listens. But listening accompanies and surrounds not only speaking auch as takes place in conversation. The simultaneousness of speaking and listening has a larger meaning. Speaking is of itself a listening. Speaking is listening to the language which we speak. Thus, it is a listening not while but before we are speaking. This listening to language
* "Der geistige Zeigefinger." (Tr.)