- A phrase is born into the world both good and bad at the same time. The secret lies in a slight, an almost invisible twist. The lever should rest in your hand, getting warm, and you can only turn it once, not twice.
Guy de Maupassant (1932) 1894–1940 Russian short-story writer:
- One picture is worth ten thousand words.
Printers' Ink 10 March 1927: in
- A definition is the enclosing a wilderness of idea within a wall of words.
Notebooks (1912) ch. 14 1835–1902 English novelist:
- He who understands baboon [will] would do more towards metaphysics than Locke.
Charles Darwin's Notebooks 1836–1844 (1987) 1809–82 English natural historian: Notebook M (16 August 1838) in P. H. Barrett et al. (eds.)
- In language, the ignorant have prescribed laws to the learned.
Maxims (1830) 1770–1831 English artist and writer:
- Language is fossil poetry.
Essays. Second Series (1844) ‘The Poet’ 1803–82 American philosopher and poet:
- Where in this small-talking world can I find
A longitude with no platitude?
The Lady's not for Burning (1949) act 3 1907–2005 English dramatist:
- The chief merit of language is clearness, and we know that nothing detracts so much from this as do unfamiliar terms.
ad 129–199 Greek physician: On the Natural Faculties bk. 1, sect. 1
- Merely corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative.
The Mikado (1885) act 2 1836–1911 English writer of comic and satirical verse:
- The true use of speech is not so much to express our wants as to conceal them.
The Bee no. 3 (20 October 1759) ‘On the Use of Language’ 1728–74 Irish writer, poet, and dramatist:
- There's a cool web of language winds us in,
Retreat from too much joy or too much fear.
1895–1985 English poet: ‘The Cool Web’ (1927)
- It is hard for a woman to define her feelings in language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs.
Far from the Madding Crowd (1874) 1840–1928 English novelist and poet:
- I believe that political correctness can be a form of linguistic fascism, and it sends shivers down the spine of my generation who went to war against fascism.
Paris Review 1995 1920–2014 English writer of detective stories: in
- Language is the dress of thought.
Lives of the English Poets (1779–81) ‘Cowley’; see Pope, Wesley 1709–84 English poet, critic, and lexicographer:
- The mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that ‘w-a-t-e-r’ meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, joy, set it free!
The Story of My Life (1902) ch. 4 1880–1968 American writer and social reformer, blind and deaf from the age of 19 months:
- Good heavens! For more than forty years I have been speaking prose without knowing it.
Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (1671) act 2, sc. 4 1622–73 French comic dramatist:
- 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.
Shooting an Elephant (1950) ‘Politics and the English Language’ 1903–50 English novelist:
- Different persons growing up in the same language are like different bushes trimmed and trained to take the shape of identical elephants. The anatomical details of twigs and branches will fulfill the elephantine form differently from bush to bush, but the overall outward results are alike.
Word and Object (1960) 1908–2000 American philosopher:
- One of our defects as a nation is a tendency to use what have been called ‘weasel words’. When a weasel sucks eggs the meat is sucked out of the egg. If you use a ‘weasel word’ after another, there is nothing left of the other. 1858–1919 American Republican statesman, 26th President 1901–9: speech in St Louis, 31 May 1916
- Slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands and goes to work.
New York Times 13 February 1959 1878–1967 American poet: in
- If a lion could talk, we could not understand him.
Philosophical Investigations (1953) pt. 2 1889–1951 Austrian-born philosopher:
- The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922) 1889–1951 Austrian-born philosopher: