The only thing in life is language. Not love. Not anything else.
The common faults of American language are an ambition of effect, a want of simplicity, and a turgid abuse of terms.
In language, the ignorant have prescribed laws to the learned.
Language is the picture and counterpart of thought.
Verbing weirds language.
Thou whoreson Zed! thou unnecessary letter!
Evolution teaches us the original purpose of language was to ritualize men's threats and curses, his spells to compel the gods; communication came later.

Language is the term commonly used for any distinctive means of communication. There are several types of language, including , written language, and oral/aural language (spoken). The study of language is commonly called Linguistics.


  • The language denotes the man. A coarse or refined character finds its expression naturally in a coarse or refined phraseology.
  • The only thing in life is language. Not love. Not anything else.
    • Richard Burton as quoted by Melvyn Bragg in Richard Burton: A Life (1988)
  • We think only through the medium of words.—Languages are true analytical methods.—Algebra, which is adapted to its purpose in every species of expression, in the most simple, most exact, and best manner possible, is at the same time a language and an analytical method.—The art of reasoning is nothing more than a language well arranged.
  • The common faults of American language are an ambition of effect, a want of simplicity, and a turgid abuse of terms.
  • Language is a city to the building of which every human being brought a stone.
  • Not only the entire ability to think rests on language... but language is also the crux of the misunderstanding of reason with itself.
  • The people from Prague and other Czechs should be whipped who speak half Czech and half German (...) And who could enumerate how the Czech language has already been corrupted, so that the true Czech hears they speak, but he does not understand them. And from that arises envy, anger, conflict, strife and Czech humiliation.
    • Jan Hus in Výklad viery, desatera a páteře (Interpretation of the Faith, the Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer) as quoted in A Companion to Jan Hus (2015) by František Šmahel (ed.), pp. 190-191.
  • Language is the picture and counterpart of thought.
    • Mark Hopkins, Address, Dedication of Williston Seminary, Dec. 1, 1841.
  • I first said "No; that is the white man's God, and the white man's religion; and that God would not have anything to do with the Indians." …I thought that God could only understand English... I then met with Peter Jones, who was converted a few months before me, and, to my surprise, I hear him return thanks, at meal, in Ojibway. This was quite enough for me. I now saw that God could understand me in my Ojibway, and therefor went far into the woods and prayed, in the Ojibway tongue.
  • Language is the dress of thought.
    • Samuel Johnson, Lives of the English Poets (1781), "The Life of Cowley".
  • Men learned to speak in order to understand one another. Cultural languages have lost the ability to help men to advance beyond the most rudimentary level and attain understanding. It seems that the time has come to learn to be silent once again.
    • Fritz Mauthner, Beiträge zu einer Kritik der Sprache, 1923, I, p. 56; as quoted in [1]
  • Human beings do not live in the objective world alone, nor alone in the world of social activity as ordinarily understood, but are very much at the mercy of the particular language which has become the medium of expression for their society. It is quite an illusion to imagine that one adjusts to reality essentially without the use of language and that language is merely an incidental means of solving specific problems of communication or reflection. The fact of the matter is that the "real world" is to a large extent unconsciously built upon the language habits of the group. No two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered as representing the same social reality. The worlds in which different societies live are distinct worlds, not merely the same world with different labels attached … We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation.
    • Edward Sapir, The Status Of Linguistics As A Science (1929)
  • A clever Toronto lawyer was deep into a technical argument before the Supreme Court. His position was dependent upon a close reading of the legal text and turned on the letter of the law. Suddenly the chief justice, Beverley McLachlin, leaned forward and asked the counsel if his argument also worked in French. After all, the law is the law in both languages and a loophole in one tends to evaporate in the other. Only an argument of substance stands up. The lawyer had no idea what to reply.
  • Thou whoreson Zed! thou unnecessary letter!
    • William Shakespeare, King Lear (1608), Act II, scene 2, line 66.
  • 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, The Tempest (c. 1610-1612), Act I, scene 2, line 363.
  • 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.
  • Verbing weirds language.
    • Bill Watterson, Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat: A Calvin and Hobbes Collection (1994), p. 53.
  • Speech is the best show a man puts on.
  • There is no mode of action, no form of emotion, that we do not share with the lower animals. It is only by language that we rise above them, or above each other — by language, which is the parent, and not the child, of thought.
  • Evolution teaches us the original purpose of language was to ritualize men's threats and curses, his spells to compel the gods; communication came later.
    • Gene Wolfe, "The Death of Doctor Island", Universe 3 (1973), ed. Terry Carr; reprinted in The Best of Gene Wolfe (2009).
  • Jede Zeit sagt, daß derzeit die Sprache so gefährdet und von Zersetzung bedroht sei wie nie zuvor. In unserer Zeit aber ist die Sprache tatsächlich so gefährdet und von Zersetzung bedroht wie nie zuvor.
    • Every age claims that its language is more endangered and threatened by decay than ever before. In our time, however, language is really endangered and threatened by decay as never before.
    • Hans Weigel, Die Leiden der jungen Wörter / The Sorrows of Young Words (1974), quoted by Rudi Keller Is the German Language Going to the Dogs? en, de

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical QuotationsEdit

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 426.
  • Well languag'd Danyel.
  • And who in time knows whither we may vent
    The treasure of our tongue? To what strange shores
    This gain of our best glory shall be sent,
    T' enrich unknowing nations with our stores?
    What worlds in th' yet unformed Occident
    May come refin'd with th' accents that are ours?
  • Who climbs the grammar-tree, distinctly knows
    Where noun, and verb, and participle grows.
  • “A language, like a species, when extinct, never… reappears.”
  • And don't confound the language of the nation
    With long-tailed words in osity and ation.
  • Language is the only instrument of science, and words are but the signs of ideas.
  • L'accent du pays où l'on est né demeure dans l'esprit et dans le cœur comme dans le langage.
  • La grammaire, qui sait régenter jusqu'aux rois,
    Et les fait, la main haute, obéir à ses lois.
    • Grammar, which knows how to lord it over kings, and with high hands makes them obey its laws.
    • Molière, Les Femmes Savantes (1672), II. 6.
  • Une louange en grec est d'une merveilleuse efficace à la tête d'un livre.
    • A laudation in Greek is of marvellous efficacy on the title-page of a book.
    • Molière, Preface. Les Précieuses Ridicules.
  • L'accent est l'âme du discours, il lui donne le sentiment et la vérité.
    • Accent is the soul of a language; it gives the feeling and truth to it.
    • Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, I.
  • Syllables govern the world.
  • Ego sum rex Romanus, et supra grammaticam.
    • I am the King of Rome, and above grammar.
    • Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor, at the Council of Constance (1414), to a prelate who objected to his grammar.
  • Don Chaucer, well of English undefyled
    On Fame's eternall beadroll worthie to be fyled.
  • Language is the expression of ideas, and if the people of one country cannot preserve an identity of ideas they cannot retain an identity of language.
  • From purest wells of English undefiled
    None deeper drank than he, the New World's Child,
    Who in the language of their farm field spoke
    The wit and wisdom of New England folk.
  • Oft on the dappled turf at ease
    I sit, and play with similes,
    Loose type of things through all degrees.

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