Excerpt from Man and Language
Everything that belongs to man's basic structure has been given Jo him in advance; it has all been ready for him from the very beginning, before he ever takes and uses it. Language is one of the things which is given to him in advance. "Language," writes Wilhelm von Humboldt, "must, in accordance with my deepest conviction, be considered part of the very constitution of man. In order to truly understand one single word, not as a merely physical stimulant but as an articulated sound describing a concept, language must reside in man as a whole and as a coherent structure."
Language is given to man. It exists before man begins to speak. Without it he could not speak. Man speaks in the language which has been given to him before he actually speaks. The gift is beyond all experience and it is outside man, yet it exists for man. It is something to which man comes and from which he parts again. The gift is a numinosum: it simultaneously repels man and attracts him. Man establishes his world between this to and fro. Time is based on the movement towards and away from the things that are given to man.
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