concept

language Quotes

51 of the best book quotes about language
  1. #1
    “Eileen had long white hands. One evening when playing tig she had put her hands over his eyes: long and white and thin and cold and soft. That was ivory: a cold white thing. That was the meaning of Tower of Ivory.”
  2. #2
    “How beautiful and sad that was! How beautiful the words were where they said Bury me in the old churchyard! A tremor passed over his body. How sad and how beautiful! He wanted to cry quietly but not for himself: for the words, so beautiful and sad, like music. The bell! The bell! Farewell! O farewell!”
  3. #3
    “The woman’s last speech had contained symbols new to him and those which were not new had been arranged in fashions not easily understood. But he was happy that the flavor had been suitable for communication between water brothers—although touched with something disturbing and terrifyingly pleasant.”
  4. #4
    ″‘Yes, Jubal. You—’ Smith stopped, looked embarrassed. ‘I again have not words. I will read and read and read, until I find words. Then I will teach my brother.‘”
  5. #5
    “It was not possible to separate in the Martian tongue the human concepts: ‘religion,’ ‘philosophy,’ and ‘science’—and, since Mike thought in Martian, it was not possible for him to tell them apart.”
  6. #6
    “You need to think in Martian to grok the word ‘grok.‘”
  7. #7
    “I tried to tell her all that had happened, all that I’d come to understand: the meaningless objectness of the world, the universal bruteness. She only stared, troubled at my noise. She’d forgotten all language long ago, or maybe had never known any.”
  8. #8
    “If instead of saying ‘I am in love’ we say ‘I am loving’ or ‘I will love.’ Our patterns around romantic love are unlikely to change if we do not change our language.”
  9. #9
    “You see this creature with her kerbstone English: the English that will keep her in the gutter to the end of her days. Well, sir, in three months I could pass that girl off as a duchess at an ambassador’s garden party.”
  10. #10
    “A woman who utters such depressing and disgusting sounds has no right to be anywhere—no right to live. Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech: that your native language is the language of Shakespeare and Milton and The Bible; and don’t sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon.”
  1. #11
    “I’ve taught scores of American millionairesses how to speak English: the best looking women in the world. I’m seasoned. They might as well be blocks of wood. I might as well be a block of wood.”
  2. #12
    “The English have no respect for their language, and will not teach their children to speak it.”
  3. #13
    “I was quite frightened once or twice because Eliza was doing it so well. You see, lots of the real people can’t do it at all: they’re such fools that they think style comes by nature to people in their position; and so they never learn.”
  4. #14
    “One thing is certain, the language was ineffaceably stamped upon my brain, though for a long time no one knew it, least of all myself.”
  5. #15
    “We often sit together at my kitchen table. The whole afternoon might go by without our saying a word. If we do talk, we never speak in Yiddish. The words of our childhood became strangers to us—we couldn’t use them in the same way and so we chose not to use them at all. Life demanded a new language.”
  6. #16
    “It took me a moment. And then I realized the difference. He was speaking to me in Yiddish.”
  7. #17
    “No . . . You can’t understand. You’re using the language of reason, not of the heart; you live in a world of abstractions.”
  8. #18
    ″‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.’
    ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.‘”
  9. #19
    “Language is a finer medium.”
  10. #20
    “Mastery of language affords remarkable power.”

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  1. #21
    “I told him that we rapped. He didn’t know what rap music was, so I did my best to explain it to him. ‘It is similar to telling parables, but in the white man’s language,’ I concluded.”
  2. #22
    “I started again. This time I didn’t write about real things and I didn’t write about imaginary things. I wrote about the only thing I knew. The pages piled up.”
  3. #23
    “Modernism in art contributed to the new and challenging literary styles that were emerging in Paris and throughout Europe.[...] The new generation of writers believed that the elaborate language so typical of 19th century literature was a decadence.”
  4. #24
    “A man who has a language consequently possesses the world expressed and implied by that language.”
  5. #25
    ″‘I meant by ‘impenetrability’ that we’ve had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you’d mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don’t mean to stop here all the rest of your life.′
    ‘That’s a great deal to make one word mean,’ Alice said in a thoughtful tone.”
  6. #26
    “They all talked at once, their voices insistent and contradictory and impatient, making of unreality a possibility, then a probability, then an incontrovertible fact, as people will when their desires become words.”
  7. #27
    “That, and so many other smaller incidents in my life, made me realize that language, even more than color, defines who you are to people.”
  8. #28
    ″‘I’ll get bigger and bigger and bigger till I turn into a human.’ ‘Actually, you’re a human already,’ says Ma. ‘Human’s what we both are.’ I thought the word for us was real.”
  9. #29
    “Some [crayons] are spelled wrong on purpose for a joke, like Mauvelous, that’s not very funny I don’t think.”
  10. #30
    “A big part of the tutor’s job was to steer the players away from the professors and courses most likely to lead to lack of performance. The majority of the football team wound up majoring in ‘Criminal Justice.’ What Criminal Justice had going for it was that it didn’t require any math or language skills. Criminal Justice classes were also almost always filled with other football players.”
  1. #31
    “All symbols were in Smith’s vocabulary but he had trouble believing that he had heard rightly.”
  2. #32
    “Tatiana’s English wasn’t very good, and often I couldn’t understand her letters. But I waited for them eagerly.”
  3. #33
    “…a priest of the eternal imagination, transmuting the daily bread of experience into the radiant body of everliving life.”
  4. #34
    “We are tied down to a language which makes up in obscurity what it lacks in style.”
  5. #35
    “I love you in a language that I don’t fully understand. In words that I haven’t found enough courage to forklift out of my chest.”
  6. #36
    ″(Christophine) is intelligent in her way and can express herself well, but I did not like the look of her at all, and consider her a most dangerous person. My wife insisted that she had gone back to Martinique her native island, and was very upset that I had mentioned the matter even in such a roundabout fashion.”
  7. #37
    ″‘What you do with her money, eh?’ Her voice was still quiet but with a hiss in it when she said ‘money.’ I thought, of course, that is what all the rigamarole is about. I no longer felt dazed, tired, half-hypnotized, but alert and wary, ready to defend myself.”
  8. #38
    “One day in the woods he met an Indian. They stood in the wet, cold woods and looked at each other, and they could not talk because they did not know each other’s words.”
  9. #39
    ″(Christophine) had a quiet voice and a quiet laugh (when she did laugh), and though she could speak good English if she wanted to, and French as well as patois, she took care to talk as they talked.”
  10. #40
    “It was their talk about Christophine that changed Coulibri, not the repairs or the new furniture or the strange faces. Their talk about Christophine and obeah changed it.”

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  1. #41
    “Say nothing and it may not be true.”
  2. #42
    “Lies are never forgotten, they go on and they grow.”
  3. #43
    “Strange, strange, that manner of voice pricks me. We’ve come into contact before, I’m sure we have.”
  4. #44
    “The word itself is music.”
  5. #45
    ″‘I know you,’ he said, without looking round – ‘and I want nothing to say to you.‘”
  6. #46
    “Somehow, of late, I had got into the way of involuntarily using this word ‘prefer’ upon all sorts of not exactly suitable occasions. And I trembled to think that my contact with the scrivener had already and seriously affected me in a mental way. And what further and deeper aberration might it not yet produce?”
  7. #47
    “I sat awhile in perfect silence, rallying my stunned faculties. Immediately it occurred to me that my ears had deceived me, or Bartleby had entirely misunderstood my meaning. I repeated my request in the clearest tone I could assume; but in quite as clear a one came the previous reply, ‘I would prefer not to.‘”
  8. #48
    “One great part of every human existence is passed in a state which cannot be rendered sensible by the use of wideawake language, cutanddry grammar and goahead plot.”
  9. #49
    “Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words best of all.”
  10. #50
    “They are conversation-openers in the arcane femine language of Shoe.”
  11. #51
    “The word no, so short, so easy to say, a child’s sound, a noise more than a word, a short exhalation of air: all he had to do was part his lips, and the word would come out, and—and what?”
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