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Language quotes and quotations

For every man there is something in the vocabulary that would stick to him like a second skin. His enemies have only to find it.
Ambrose Bierce

Language is a mixture of statement and evocation.
Elizabeth Bowen

Language is the armory of the human mind, and at once contains the trophies of its past and the weapons of its future conquests.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Words are the physicians of the mind diseased.
Aeschylus

Language is the source of misunderstandings.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

No man means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous.
Henry Brooks Adams

Grasp the subject, the words will follow.
Cato the Elder

Let thy speech be short, comprehending much in a few words.
Aprocrypha

High thoughts must have high language.
Aristophanes

He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas of any man I ever met.
Abraham Lincoln

Words calculated to catch everyone may catch no one.
Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.

Use soft words and hard arguments.
English Proverb

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 spurting out ink.
George Orwell

A man thinks that by mouthing hard words he understands hard things.
Herman Melville

For me, words are a form of action, capable of influencing change.
Ingrid Bengis

When ideas fail, words come in very handy.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assaults of thought on the unthinking.
John Maynard Keynes

The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand.
Lewis Thomas

Deeds, not words shall speak me.
John Fletcher

Man invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain.
Lily Tomlin

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

Words have a longer life than deeds.
Pindar

No one has a finer command of language than the person who keeps his mouth shut.
Sam Rayburn

Do not accustom yourself to use big words for little matters.
Samuel Johnson

Works of imagination should be written in very plain language; the more purely imaginative they are the more necessary it is to be plain.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words best of all.
Sir Winston Churchill

I understand a fury in your words,
But not the words.
William Shakespeare

Language exerts hidden power, like a moon on the tides.
Rita Mae Brown

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

A laudation in Greek is of marvellous efficacy on the title-page of a book.
Jean Baptiste Poquelin Moliere

Accent is the soul of a language; it gives the feeling and truth to it.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Syllables govern the world.
John Selden

Speak properly, and in as few words as you can, but always plainly; for the end of speech is not ostentation, but to be understood.
William Penn

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

Language is a form of human reason, which has its internal logic of which man knows nothing.
Claude Levi-Strauss

When a language creates -- as it does -- a community within the present, it does so only by courtesy of a community between the present and the past.
Christopher Ricks

My words fly up, my thoughts remain below:
Words without thoughts never to heaven go.
William Shakespeare

Well languag'd Danyel.
Sir William Browne

Morals and manners will rise or decline with our attention to grammar.
Jason Chamberlain

They have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps.
William Shakespeare

Language is a city to the building of which every human being brought a stone.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

And don't confound the language of the nation With long-tailed words in osity and ation.
John Hookham Frere

Language is the only instrument of science, and words are but the signs of ideas.
Samuel Johnson

The accent of one's country dwells in the mind and in the heart as much as in the language.
Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld

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

To have another language is to possess a second soul.
Charlemagne

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

Thanks to words, we have been able to rise above the brutes; and thanks to words, we have often sunk to the level of the demons.
Aldous Huxley

Thou whoreson zed, thou unnecessary letter!
William Shakespeare

To God I speak Spanish, to women Italian, to men French, and to my horse--German.
Jason Chamberlain

Pedantry consists in the use of words unsuitable to the time, place, and company.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Who climbs the grammar-tree, distinctly knows Where noun, and verb, and participle grows.
John Dryden

Language is fossil poetry.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Language tethers us to the world; without it we spin like atoms.
Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld

Writ in the climate of heaven, in the language spoken by angels.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Grammar, which knows how to lord it over kings, and with high hands makes them obey its laws.
Jean Baptiste Poquelin Moliere

Fie, fie upon her! There's language in her eye, her cheek, her lip; Nay, her foot speaks. Her wanton spirits look out At every joint and motive of her body.
William Shakespeare

Language tethers us to the world; without it we spin like atoms.
Penelope Lively

I can remember the lush spring excitement of language in childhood. Sitting in church, rolling it around my mouth like marbles--tabernacle and pharisee and parable, tresspass and Babylon and covenant.
Penelope Lively

Language helps form the limits of our reality.
Dale Spender

He has strangled His language in his tears.
William Shakespeare

I am the King of Rome, and above grammar.
Sigismund

Don Chaucer. well of English undefyled On Fame's eternall beadroll worthie to be fyled.
Edmund Spenser

The language of truth is unadorned and always simple.
Marcellinus Ammianus

We are getting into semantics again. If we use words, there is a very grave danger they will be misinterpreted.
H. R. Halderman

Those who know nothing of foreign languages, knows nothing of their own.
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

There was speech in their dumbness, language in their very gesture.
William Shakespeare

It is of interest to note that while some dolphins are reported to have learned English - up to fifty words used in correct context - no human being has been reported to have learned dolphinese.
Carl Sagan

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

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

You taught me language, and my profit on't Is, I know how to curse. The red plague rid you For learning me your language!
William Shakespeare


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

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

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

I stand and listen to people speaking french in the stores and in the street. It's such a pert, crisp language, elegant as ruffling taffeta.
Belva Plain