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Martin Heidegger speaks of his aim as follows: “To bring language as language to language.” What does he mean by this dense and enigmatic statement?

“To bring language as language to language” is to realize that we live in a world of language as much as one of physical objects. When we bring the bucket to the well, we are also bringing the word “bucket” to the word “well,” and to realize this is to bring the language as language to language.

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Heidegger’s formulations of language are often so dense as to seem mystical, but this is at least partly because he is so concerned with thinking about language itself in a new way. He is not interested in linguistics in the traditional sense of studying the functions of language as a scientific discipline. Instead of writing about language as an object of study, Heidegger sees language as a reality within which we all live. His aim is to write from within this reality of...

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