Watch Your Language

Sunday, May 6, 2012 – Watch Your Language

We should have a great fewer disputes in the world if words were taken for what they are, the signs of our ideas only, and not for things themselves. ~ John Locke

The reaction to any word may be, in an individual, either a mob-reaction or an individual reaction. It is up to the individual to ask himself: Is my reaction individual, or am I merely reacting from my mob-self? When it comes to the so-called obscene words, I should say that hardly one person in a million escapes mob-reaction. ~ D. H. Lawrence

One man’s frankness is another man’s vulgarity. ~ Kevin Smith

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

I personally believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain. ~ Jane Wagner

Euphemisms are unpleasant truths wearing diplomatic cologne. ~ Quentin Crisp

Slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands and goes to work. ~ Carl Sandburg, New York Times, 13 February 1959

What words say does not last. The words last. Because words are always the same – and what they say is never the same. ~ Antonio Porchia

Man is a creature who lives not upon bread alone, but primarily by catchwords. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

A good catchword can obscure analysis for fifty years. ~ Wendell L. Willkie

I like the word “indolence.” It makes my laziness seem classy. ~ Bern Williams

Our language is funny – a fat chance and slim chance are the same thing. ~ J. Gustav White

If the English language made any sense, lackadaisical would have something to do with a shortage of flowers. ~ Doug Larson

The word “good” has many meanings. For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man. ~ G. K. Chesterton

Dictionaries are like watches; the worst is better than none, and the best cannot be expected to go quite true. ~ Samuel Johnson

Words signify man’s refusal to accept the world as it is. ~ Walter Kaufmann

Language is the means of getting an idea from my brain into yours without surgery. ~ Mark Amidon

There is a certain age at which a child looks at you in all earnestness and delivers a long, pleased speech in all the true inflections of spoken English, but with not one recognizable syllable. There is no way you can tell the child that if language had been a melody, he had mastered it and done well, but that since it was in fact a sense, he had botched it utterly. ~ Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Whenever ideas fail, men invent words. ~ Martin H. Fischer

Human speech is like a cracked cauldron on which we bang out tunes that make bears dance, when what we want is to move the stars to pity. ~ Gustave Flaubert

To handle a language skillfully is to practice a kind of evocative sorcery. ~ Charles Baudelaire

I feed on good soup, not beautiful language. ~ Moliere

Learning preserves the errors of the past, as well as its wisdom. For this reason, dictionaries are public dangers, although they are necessities. ~ Alfred North Whitehead

Every American child should grow up knowing a second language, preferably English. ~ Mignon McLaughlin

A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged, it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and the time in which it is used. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

When a German dives into a sentence, you won’t see him again until he emerges at the other end with the verb between his teeth. ~ Mark Twain

The German language speaks Being, while all the others merely speak of Being. ~ Martin Heidegger

The Germans and I no longer speak the same language. ~ Marlene Dietrich

French is the language that turns dirt into romance. ~ Stephen King

In general, every country has the language it deserves. ~ Jorge Luis Borges

My English text is chaste, and all licentious passages are left in the decent obscurity of a learned language. ~ Edward Gibbon

Parents should conduct their arguments in quiet, respectful tones, but in a foreign language. You’d be surprised what an inducement that is to the education of children. ~ Judith Martin

A riot is the language of the unheard. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

The limits of my language means the limits of my world. ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein

Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language. ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein

A mind enclosed in language is in prison. ~ Simone Weil

Every legend, moreover, contains its residuum of truth, and the root function of language is to control the universe by describing it. ~ James A. Baldwin

We inhabit a language rather than a country. ~ Emile M. Cioran

A language is a more ancient and inevitable thing than any state. ~ Joseph Brodsky

Language is a virus from outer space. ~ William S. Burroughs

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

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

Life is a foreign language; all men mispronounce it. ~ Christopher Morley

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

No one gets angry at a mathematician or a physicist whom he or she doesn’t understand, or at someone who speaks a foreign language, but rather at someone who tampers with your own language. ~ Jacques Derrida

Human life is driven forward by its dim apprehension of notions too general for its existing language. ~ Alfred North Whitehead

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


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