An aphorism is nothing else but the slightest
form of writing raised to the highest level of expressive communication. Carl William Brown





I do not mind what language an opera is sung in, so long as it is in an language I do not understand.


Edward Appleton (1892-1965, British physicist, winner of Nobel Prize, 1947)


By words the mind is winged.


Aristophanes (BC 448-380, Greek comic poet, satirist)


All true language is incomprehensible, like the chatter of a beggar's teeth.


Antonin Artaud (1896-1948, French theater producer, actor, theorist)


A special kind of beauty exists which is born in language, of language, and for language.


Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962, French scientist, philosopher, literary theorist)


No language is rude that can boast polite writers.


Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898, British illustrator, writer)


Drawing on my fine command of the language, I said nothing.


Robert Benchley (1889-1945, American humorist, critic, parodist)


All official institutions of language are repeating machines: school, sports, advertising, popular songs, news, all continually repeat the same structure, the same meaning, often the same words: the stereotype is a political fact, the major figure of ideology.


Roland Barthes (1915-1980, French semiologist)


Language is a skin: I rub my language against the other. It is as if I had words instead of fingers, or fingers at the tip of my words. My language trembles with desire.


Roland Barthes (1915-1980, French semiologist)


If everything is perfect, language is useless. This is true for animals. If animals don't speak, it's because everything's perfect for them. If one day they start to speak, it will be because the world has lost a certain sort of perfection.


Jean Baudrillard (French postmodern philosopher, writer)


Never resist a sentence you like, in which language takes its own pleasure and in which, after having abused it for so long, you are stupefied by its innocence.


Jean Baudrillard (French postmodern philosopher, writer)


One can say of language that it is potentially the only human home, the only dwelling place that cannot be hostile to man.


John Berger (1926-, British actor, critic)


There is nothing in philosophy that could not be said in everyday language.


Henri L. Bergson (1859-1941, French philosopher)


Because language is the carrier of ideas, it is easy to believe that it should be very little else than such a carrier.


Louise Bogan (1897-1970, American poet, critic)


The English language is rather like a monster accordion, stretchable at the whim of the editor, compressible ad lib.


Robert Burchfield (1923-, New Zealand scholar, lexicographer)


The downtrodden, who are the great creators of slang.


Anthony Burgess (1917-1993, British writer, critic)


Language is a virus from outer space.


William S. Burroughs (1914-1997, American writer)


My general theory since 1971 has been that the word is literally a virus, and that it has not been recognized as such because it has achieved a state of relatively stable symbiosis with its human host; that is to say, the word virus (the Other Half) has established itself so firmly as an accepted part of the human organism that it can now sneer at gangster viruses like smallpox and turn them in to the Pasteur Institute.


William S. Burroughs (1914-1997, American writer)


As the language of the face is universal, so 'tis very comprehensive; no laconism can reach it: 'Tis the short hand of the mind, and crowds a great deal in a little room


Jeremy Collier (1650-1726, British clergyman, conjuror)


Everything can change, but not the language that we carry inside us, like a world more exclusive and final than one's mother's womb.


Italo Calvino (1923-1985, Cuban writer, essayist, journalist)


To a teacher of languages there comes a time when the world is but a place of many words and man appears a mere talking animal not much more wonderful than a parrot.


Joseph Conrad (1857-1924, Polish-born British novelist)


There is no such thing as an ugly language. Today I hear every language as if it were the only one, and when I hear of one that is dying, it overwhelms me as though it were the death of the earth.


Elias Canetti (1905-1994, Austrian novelist, philosopher)


By such innovations are languages enriched: when the words are adopted by the multitude and naturalized by custom.


Miguel De Cervantes (1547-1616, Spanish novelist, dramatist, poet)


To have another language is to possess a second soul.


Charlemagne (742-814, King of the Franks, Emperor of the West)


To have another language is to possess a second soul.


Charlemagne (742-814, King of the Franks, Emperor of the West)


I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men and German to my horse.


Charles V (1500-1558, Spanish King)


Language is a process of free creation; its laws and principles are fixed, but the manner in which the principles of generation are used is free and infinitely varied. Even the interpretation and use of words involves a process of free creation.


Noam Chomsky (1928-, American linguist, political activist)


One does not inhabit a country; one inhabits a language. That is our country, our fatherland -- and no other.


E. M. Cioran (1911-1995, Rumanian-born French philosopher)


The common faults of American language are an ambition of effect, a want of simplicity, and a turgid abuse of terms.


James F. Cooper (1789-1851, American novelist)


And who in time knows whither we may vent the treasure of our tongue?  To what strange shores this gain of our best glory shall be sent, T' enrich  unknowing Nations with our stores? What worlds in the yet unformed Occident may come refin'd with th' accents that are ours?


Samuel Daniel


It is still not enough for language to have clarity and content... it must also have a goal and an imperative. Otherwise from language we descend to chatter, from chatter to babble and from babble to confusion.


Rene Daumal (1908-1944, French poet, critic)


Language is not only the vehicle of thought, it is a great and efficient instrument in thinking.


Sir Humphrey Davy (1778-1829, British chemist)


Male supremacy is fused into the language, so that every sentence both heralds and affirms it.


Andrea Dworkin (1946-, American feminist critic)


There is the fear, common to all English-only speakers, that the chief purpose of foreign languages is to make fun of us. Otherwise, you know, why not just come out and say it?


Barbara Ehrenreich (1941-, American author, columnist)


Language is the archives of history.


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, American poet, essayist)


The chief merit of language is clearness, and we know that nothing detracts so much from this as do unfamiliar terms.


Claudius Galen (130-200, Physician born in Pergamus)


The words of language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought. The physical entities which seem to serve as elements in thought are certain signs and more or less clear images.


Albert Einstein (1879-1955, German-born American physicist)


The finest language is mostly made up of simple unimposing words.


George Eliot (1819-1880, British novelist)


I like to be beholden to the great metropolitan English speech, the sea which receives tributaries from every region under heaven.


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, American poet, essayist)


The language of truth is simple.


Euripides (BC 480-406, Greek tragic poet)


I ascribe a basic importance to the phenomenon of language. To speak means to be in a position to use a certain syntax, to grasp the morphology of this or that language, but it means above all to assume a culture, to support the weight of a civilization.


Frantz Fanon (1925-1961, French psychiatrist)


The learned fool writes his nonsense in better language than the unlearned, but it is still nonsense.


Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790, American scientist, publisher, diplomat)


Words are the leaves of the tree of language, of which, if some fall away, a new succession takes their place.


John French (1852-1925, British field marshal)


He who does not know foreign languages does not know anything about his own.


Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749-1832, German poet, dramatist, novelist)


Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.


Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894, American author, wit, poet)


Life and language are alike sacred. Homicide and verbicide -- that is, violent treatment of a word with fatal results to its legitimate meaning, which is its life -- are alike forbidden.


Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894, American author, wit, poet)


Public speaking is done in the public tongue, the national or tribal language; and the language of our tribe is the men's language. Of course women learn it. We're not dumb. If you can tell Margaret Thatcher from Ronald Reagan, or Indira Gandhi from General Somoza, by anything they say, tell me how. This is a man's world, so it talks a man's language.


Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-, American author)


It is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs.


Thomas Hardy (1840-1928, British novelist, poet)


Man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master of man.


Martin Heidegger (1889-1976, German philosopher)


The eyes have one language everywhere.


George Herbert (1593-1632, British metaphysical poet)


After all, when you come right down to it, how many people speak the same language even when they speak the same language?


Russell Hoban (1925-, American author)


The proverbial German phenomenon of the verb-at-the-end about which droll tales of absentminded professors who would begin a sentence, ramble on for an entire lecture, and then finish up by rattling off a string of verbs by which their audience, for whom the stack had long since lost its coherence, would be totally nonplussed, are told, is an excellent example of linguistic recursion.


Douglas Hofstadter


Grammar and logic free language from being at the mercy of the tone of voice. Grammar protects us against misunderstanding the sound of an uttered name; logic protects us against what we say have double meaning.


Rosenstock Huessy


Language most shows a man, speak that I may see thee.


Ben Johnson (1572-1637, British clergyman, poet, painter)


To rescue from oblivion even a fragment of a language which men have used and which is in danger of being lost -- that is to say, one of the elements, whether good or bad, which have shaped and complicated civilization -- is to extend the scope of social observation and to serve civilization.


Victor Hugo (1802-1885, French poet, dramatist, novelist)


I am always sorry when any language is lost, because languages are the pedigrees of nations.


Samuel Johnson (1709-1784, British author)


Language is the dress of thought.


Samuel Johnson (1709-1784, British author)


It's a strange world of language in which skating on thin ice can get you into hot water.


Franklin P. Jones


Writing in English is the most ingenious torture ever devised for sins committed in previous lives. The English reading public explains the reason why.


James Joyce (1882-1941, Irish author)


Language is the mother of thought, not its handmaiden.


Karl Kraus (1874-1936, Austrian satirist)


Language is the inventory of human experience.


L. W. Lockhart


Any language is necessarily a finite system applied with different degrees of creativity to an infinite variety of situations, and most of the words and phrases we use are "prefabricated" in the sense that we don't coin new ones every time we speak.


David Lodge (1935-, British author)


Language, the machine of the poet, is best fitted for his purpose in its rudest state. Nations, like individuals, first perceive, and then abstract. They advance from particular images to general terms. Hence the vocabulary of an enlightened society is philosophical, that of a half-civilized people is poetical.


Thomas B. Macaulay (1800-1859, American essayist and historian)


Curiously enough, it seems to be only in describing a mode of language which does not mean what it says that one can actually say what one means.


Paul De Man (1919-1983, Belgian-born American literary critic)


Syntax and vocabulary are overwhelming constraints -- the rules that run us. Language is using us to talk -- we think we're using the language, but language is doing the thinking, we're its slavish agents.


Harry Mathews (1930-, American novelist)


There is in every child a painstaking teacher, so skillful that he obtains identical results in all children in all parts of the world. The only language men ever speak perfectly is the one they learn in babyhood, when no one can teach them anything!


Maria Montessori (1870-1952, Italian educator)


Language is the Rubicon that divides man from beast.


Max Muller (1823-1900, British philosopher, philologist)


The problems of society will also be the problems of the predominant language of that society. It is the carrier of its perceptions, its attitudes, and its goals, for through it, the speakers absorb entrenched attitudes. The guilt of English then must be recognized and appreciated before its continued use can be advocated.


Njabulo Ndebele


The significance of language for the evolution of culture lies in this, that mankind set up in language a separate world beside the other world, a place it took to be so firmly set that, standing upon it, it could lift the rest of the world off its hinges and make itself master of it. To the extent that man has for long ages believed in the concepts and names of things as in aeternae veritates he has appropriated to himself that pride by which he raised himself above the animal: he really thought that in language he possessed knowledge of the world.


Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900, German philosopher)


Language ought to be the joint creation of poets and manual workers.


George Orwell (1903-1950, British author, "Animal Farm")


The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.


George Orwell (1903-1950, British author, "Animal Farm")


We invent the world through language. The world occurs through language.


Mal Pancoast


Man, even man debased by the neocapitalism and pseudosocialism of our time, is a marvelous being because he sometimes speaks. Language is the mark, the sign, not of his fall but of his original innocence. Through the Word we may regain the lost kingdom and recover powers we possessed in the far-distant past.


Octavio Paz (1914-1998, Mexican poet, essayist)


You can't write about people out of textbooks, and you can't use jargon. You have to speak clearly and simply and purely in a language that a six-year-old child can understand; and yet have the meanings and the overtones of language, and the implications, that appeal to the highest intelligence.


Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980, American short-story writer, novelist)


We might hypothetically possess ourselves of every technological resource on the North American continent, but as long as our language is inadequate, our vision remains formless, our thinking and feeling are still running in the old cycles, our process may be "revolutionary" but not transformative.


Adrienne Rich (1929-, American poet)


My God! The English language is a form of communication! Conversation isn't just crossfire where you shoot and get shot at! Where you've got to duck for your life and aim to kill! Words aren't only bombs and bullets -- no, they're little gifts, containing meanings!


Philip Roth (1933-, American novelist)


The English have no respect for their language, and will not teach their children to speak it.


George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950, Irish-born British dramatist)


If you want to tell the untold stories, if you want to give voice to the voiceless, you've got to find a language. Which goes for film as well as prose, for documentary as well as autobiography. Use the wrong language, and you're dumb and blind.


Salman Rushdie (1948-, Indian-born British author)


The secret of language is the secret of sympathy and its full charm is possible only to the gentle.


John Ruskin (1819-1900, British critic, social theorist)


A linguistic system is a series of differences of sound combined with a series of differences of ideas.


Ferdinand De Saussure (1857-1913, Swiss linguist)


Language furnishes the best proof that a law accepted by a community is a thing that is tolerated and not a rule to which all freely consent.


Ferdinand De Saussure (1857-1913, Swiss linguist)


The word of man is the most durable of all material.


Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860, German philosopher)


It was Greek to me.


William Shakespeare (1564-1616, British poet, playwright, actor)


If the announcer can produce the impression that he is a gentlemen, he may pronounce as he pleases.


George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950, Irish-born British dramatist)


Language can only deal meaningfully with a special, restricted segment of reality. The rest, and it is presumably the much larger part, is silence.


George Steiner (1929-, French-born American critic, novelist)


Man invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain.


Lily Tomlin (1939-, American comedienne)


We are armed with language adequate to describe each leaf of the field, but not to describe human character.


Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862, American essayist, poet, naturalist)


The genius of democracies is seen not only in the great number of new words introduced but even more in the new ideas they express.


Alexis De Tocqueville (1805-1859, French social philosopher)


I wish life was not so short, he thought. Languages take such a time, and so do all the things one wants to know about.


J. R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973, British novelist, scholar)


Language is the amber in which a thousand precious and subtle thoughts have been safely embedded and preserved. It has arrested ten thousand lightning flashes of genius, which, unless thus fixed and arrested, might have been as bright, but would have also been as quickly passing and perishing, as the lightning.


Richard Chevenix Trench (1807-1886, Irish ecclesiastic, archbishop of Dublin)


There is no such thing as "the Queen's English." The property has gone into the hands of a joint stock company and we own the bulk of the shares!


Mark Twain (1835-1910, American humorist, writer)


How many languages are there in the world? How about 5 billion! Each of us talks, listens, and thinks in his/her own special language that has been shaped by our culture, experiences, profession, personality, mores and attitudes. The chances of us meeting someone else who talks the exact same language is pretty remote.


Author Unknown


Language is the pedigree of nations.


Author Unknown


Caesar had perished from the world of men, had not his sword been rescued by his pen.


Henry Vaughan (1622-1695, Welsh poet)


The universal principle of etymology in all languages: words are carried over from bodies and from the properties of bodies to express the things of the mind and spirit. The order of ideas must follow the order of things.


Giambattista Vico (1688-1744, Italian philosopher, historian)


As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: you liberate a city by destroying it. Words are to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests.


Gore Vidal (1925-, American novelist, critic)


The English language is nobody's special property. It is the property of the imagination: it is the property of the language itself.


Derek Walcott (1930-, Poet and playwright, born in West Indies)


As advertising blather becomes the nation's normal idiom, language becomes printed noise.


George F. Will (1941-, American political columnist)


Language is a part of our organism and no less complicated than it.


Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951, Austrian philosopher)


The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.


Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951, Austrian philosopher)


We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.


Booker T. Washington (1856-1915, American black leader and educator)


A mind enclosed in language is in prison.


Simone Weil (1910-1943, French philosopher, mystic)


Numbers constitute the only universal language.


Nathanael West


The living language is like a cowpath: it is the creation of the cows themselves, who, having created it, follow it or depart from it according to their whims or their needs. From daily use, the path undergoes change. A cow is under no obligation to stay


Elwyn Brooks White (1899-1985, American author, editor)


Viewed freely, the English language is the accretion and growth of every dialect, race, and range of time, and is both the free and compacted composition of all.


Walt Whitman (1819-1892, American poet)


Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about.


Benjamin Lee Whorf (1897-1941, American linguist)


We dissect nature along lines laid down by our native language. Language is not simply a reporting device for experience but a defining framework for it.


Benjamin Lee Whorf (1897-1941, American linguist)


We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.


Oscar Wilde (1856-1900, British author, wit)


Poetry is the language of feeling.


W. Winter


If we spoke a different language, we would perceive a somewhat different world.


Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951, Austrian philosopher)


Methinks the human method of expression by sound of tongue is very elementary, and ought to be substituted for some ingenious invention which should be able to give vent to at least six coherent sentences at once.


Virginia Woolf (1882-1941, British novelist, essayist)


Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.


William Butler Yeats (1865-1939, Irish poet, playwright.)


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