Language Quotes

Most popular language quotes

The root function of language is to control the universe by describing it.
Language is the substitution of symbol for reality, thus the first, immense separation of humanity from the animate earth.
Language is fossil poetry.
Language is wine upon his lips.
Language is memory and metaphor.
Language is the dress of thought.
Language, the machine of the poet.


All words are pegs to hang ideas on.

ideas proverbs words

Language is the archives of history.
High thoughts must have high language.


Correct English is the slang of prigs.
Learn a new language and get a new soul.
— Czech proverb


Nothing surely is more alive than a word.
Language is what stops the heart exploding.
Language is not the frosting, it's the cake.
Language is a finding place, not a hiding place.
Words without ideas are like sails without wind.
— Courier-Record (Blackstone, Virginia)
To "coin a phrase" is to place some value upon it.
In the naming of things one must go with the crowd.
A different language is a different vision of life.
A language is a dialect that has an army and a navy.
Accuracy of language is one of the bulwarks of truth.

accuracy truth

Language is to the mind more than light is to the eye.
Language is a window through which we look at the world.
A cliché is only something well said in the first place.
Language exerts hidden power, like the moon on the tides.
He who is ignorant of foreign languages knows not his own.
At the very least, a mind enclosed in language is in prison.
Like a diaphanous nightgown, language both hides and reveals.
No man fully capable of his own language ever masters another.
In language, the ignorant have prescribed laws to the learned.
Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace-up shoes.
Thoughts corrupt language, and language can also corrupt thought.


Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know men.


To speak of "mere words" is much like speaking of "mere dynamite."
An idea does not pass from one language to another without change.


Language is the archives of history. ... Language is fossil poetry.
Language ought to be the joint creation of poets and manual workers.
Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds.


Words, like eyeglasses, blur everything that they do not make clearer.


Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will break our hearts.
Our language is funny—a fat chance and a slim chance are the same thing.


Use what language you will, you can never say anything but what you are.


Words, like eyeglasses, blur everything that they do not make more clear.


Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God.
Language screens reality as a filter on a camera lens screens light waves.
Words are like diamonds. Polish them too much, and all you get are pebbles.
A pun is a pistol let off at the ear; not a feather to tickle the intellect.


Words must surely be counted among the most powerful drugs man ever invented.
Language is the main instrument of man's refusal to accept the world as it is.
Language is a city to the building of which every human being brought a stone.
We have a symbiotic relationship with a non-material being that we call language.
We shall never understand each other until we reduce the language to seven words.
Every language is a temple, in which the soul of those who speak it is enshrined.
Words are vehicles that can transport us from the drab sands to the dazzling stars.
The American language is in a state of flux based on the survival of the unfittest.
Slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands and goes to work.
I personally think we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.


Man does not live by words alone, despite the fact that sometimes he has to eat them.


Literature ... the Promised Land in which language becomes what it really ought to be.


To reason with a poor language is like using a pair of scales with inaccurate weights.


A language is like a beach: every wave of history deposits verbal driftwood on its sand.
It's a strange world of language in which skating on thin ice can get you into hot water.
I am always sorry when any language is lost, because languages are the pedigrees of nations.
Male supremacy is fused into the language, so that every sentence both heralds and affirms it.
Language is a playing with words until they can impersonate physical objects and abstract ideas.
Language.  I loved it. And for a long time I would think of myself, of my whole body, as an ear.
The notion that anything is gained by fixing a language in a groove is cherished only by pedants.
If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.


If the Romans had been obliged to learn Latin, they would never have found time to conquer the world.
The Romans would never have found time to conquer the world if they had been obliged fist to learn Latin.
Language is the road map of a culture.  It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.
There is something particularly human about using tools; the first and most important tool being language.
One does not inhabit a country; one inhabits a language.  That is our country, our fatherland—and no other.
Violence of language leads to violence of action. Angry men seldom fight if their tongues do not lead the fray.


Language is the amber in which a thousand precious and subtle thoughts have been safely embedded and preserved.
The man who does not know other languages, unless he is a man of genius, necessarily has deficiencies in his ideas.


Language is, without a doubt, the most momentous and at the same time the most mysterious product of the human mind.
As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action.
Language is the apparel in which your thoughts parade before the public.  Never clothe them in vulgar or shoddy attire.
Because language is the carrier of ideas, it is easy to believe that it should be very little else than such a carrier.
Language is civilization itself.  The Word, even the most contradictory word, binds us together.  Wordlessness isolates.
When language in common use in any country becomes irregular and depraved, it is followed by their ruin and degradation.
One can say of language that it is potentially the only human home, the only dwelling place that cannot be hostile to man.
Nothing is more common than for men to think that because they are familiar with words they understand the ideas they stand for.


In certain trying circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity furnishes a relief denied even to prayer.


If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
For language is the armory of the human mind; and at once contains the trophies of its past, and the weapons of its future conquests.
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.
Different persons growing up in the same language are like different bushes trimmed and trained to take the shape of identical elephants.
Language, never forget, is more fashion than science, and matters of usage, spelling, and pronunciation tend to wander around like hemlines.
Our native language is like a second skin, so much a part of us we resist the idea that it is constantly changing, constantly being renewed.
Language, if it throws a veil over our ideas, adds a softness and refinement to them, like that which the atmosphere gives to naked objects.
Language is obviously as different from other animals' communication systems as the elephant's trunk is different from other animals' nostrils.
Language is living, kicking, growing, fluttering, evolving reality, and the teacher should spontaneously reflect its vibrant and protean qualities.
By its very looseness, by its way of evoking rather than defining, suggesting rather than saying, English is a magnificent vehicle for emotional poetry.


Language is by its very nature a communal thing; that is, it expresses never the exact thing but a compromise—that which is common to you, me, and everybody.
Language is the soul of intellect, and reading is the essential process by which that intellect is cultivated beyond the commonplace experiences of everyday life.


The future author is one who discovers that language, the exploration and manipulation of the resources of language, will serve him in winning through to his way.


To a teacher of language 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.
Language is as real, as tangible, in our lives as streets, pipelines, telephone switchboards, microwaves, radioactivity, cloning laboratories, nuclear power stations.
Languages, like our bodies, are in a perpetual flux, and stand in need of recruits to supply the place of those words that are continually falling off through disuse.
Language is largely made to show-off, gossip, confuse people, delude them, charm them, seduce them, scare them, and exploit them. And, as a side effect, convey information.
Ours is a precarious language, as every writer knows, in which the merest shadow line often separates affirmation from negation, sense from nonsense, and one sex from the other.
The two words "information" and "communication" are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.


A writer's form of expression may seem quite clear to him, yet obscure to the reader. Why? Because the reader is advancing from language to thought, the writer from thought to language.

words writing

Language is not an infallible guide, but it contains, with all its defects, a good deal of stored insight and experience. If you begin by flouting it, it has a way of avenging itself later on.
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 living language is like a man suffering incessantly from small hemorrhages, and what it needs above all else is constant transfusions of new blood from other tongues. The day the gates go up, that day it begins to die.
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.
Language doesn't belong to grammarians, linguists, wordsmiths, writers, or editors. It belongs to the people who use it. It goes where people want it to go, and, like a balky mule, you can't make it go where it doesn't want to go.
I have sometimes looked with wonder on the jargon of our times, wherein those whose minds reside in the past are called "progressive," while those whose minds are vital enough to challenge and mould the future are dubbed "reactionary."

politics rebels

How did language develop?  In much the same way an economic order develops through the market—out of the voluntary interaction of individuals, in this case seeking to trade ideas or information or gossip rather than goods and services with one another.
Words and languages were created by farmers, hunters, traders, prostitutes, carpenters, dancers, squid ink experts, cardiologists, post office clerks, and home builders. Not by linguists, scribes, bureaucrats, librarians, grammarians, and college professors.
We open our mouths and out flow words whose ancestries we do not even know.  We are walking lexicons. In a single sentence of idle chatter we preserve Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Norse: we carry a museum inside our heads, each day we commemorate peoples of whom we have never heard.

speech words

This is our point: humans suffer, in part, because they are verbal creatures. If this is so, then here is the problem: the verbal skills that create misery are too useful and central to human functioning to ever stop operating. That means suffering is an unavoidable part of the human condition, at least until we know how to better manage the skills language itself has given us.


One ought to recognize that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end. If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark, its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself. Political language—and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists—is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one's own habits, and from time to time, one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase—some jackboot, Achilles' heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno or other lump of verbal refuse—into the dustbin where it belongs.