Phenomenology Online

A Resource for Phenomenological Inquiry

Linguistic Reflection

It is sometimes surprising how much language can teach us if we allow ourselves to be attentive to even the most common of expressions associated with the phenomenon we wish to pursue. The reason is that sayings, idiomatic phrases, proverbs, and poetic quotes are generally derived phenomenologically: they are born out of lived experience.


Ordinary language is in some sense a huge reservoir in which the incredible variety of richness of human experience is deposited. The problem often is that these deposits have silted, crusted, or fossilized in such a way that the original contact with our primordial experiences is broken.