Eventually it may be possible for humans to speak with another species. I have come to this conclusion after careful consideration of evidence gained through my research experiments with dolphins. If new scientific developments are to be made in this direction, however, certain changes in our basic orientation and philosophy will be necessary.
As everyone who has studied transcripts of tape-recorded speech knows, we all seem to be extremely reluctant to come right out and say what we mean—thus the bizarre syntax, the hesitations, the circumlocutions, the repetitions, the contradictions, the lacunae in almost every non-sentence we speak.
Even then he had those piercing cat's eyes of his and when he had said something, finished up by saying: "If I'm wrong, put me right." And so I began to understand that you didn't speak for the sake of speaking, to say that you had done this or that, what you had eaten or drunk, but to work out an idea, to find out what makes the world go round.
The tongues of mocking wenches are as keen
As is the razor's edge invisible,
Cutting a smaller hair than may be seen
Above the sense of sense; so sensible
Seemeth their conference; their conceits have wings
Fleeter than arrows, bullets, wind, thought, swifter things.
Rude am I in my speech,
And little blessed with the soft phrase of peace;
For since these arms of mine had seven years' pith,
Till now some nine moons wasted, they have us'd
Their dearest action in the tented field,
And little of this great world can I speak,
More than pertains to feats of broil and battle,
And therefore little shall I grace my cause
In speaking for myself.
Men will seem to see new destructions in the sky. The flames that fall from it will seem to rise in it and to fly from it with terror. They will hear every kind of animals speak in human language. They will instantaneously run in person in various parts of the world, without motion. They will see the greatest splendour in the midst of darkness. O! marvel of the human race! What madness has led you thus! You will speak with animals of every species and they with you in human speech. You will see yourself fall from great heights without any harm and torrents will accompany you, and will mingle with their rapid course.
Leonardo da Vinci, The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci (1938), XX Humorous Writings, as translated by Edward MacCurdy.
Pierre Blanchet, Pierre Pathelin, III. 2. Same used by Brueys in his L'Avocat Patelin (Maître Patelin) which he says in the preface he took from Blanchet's play. Jacob's ed. in Recueil de Farces Soties, p. 96 gives text as "Revenons a ces mouton." Pasquier—Recherches de la France gives "nos mouton." Rabelais—Pantagruel, Book III. 34. ("Retournous" for "Revenons").
Tout ce qu'on dit de trop est fade et rebutant.
That which is repeated too often becomes insipid and tedious.
When Harel wished to put a joke or witticism into circulation, he was in the habit of connecting it with some celebrated name, on the chance of reclaiming it if it took. Thus he assigned to Talleyrand, in the "Nain Jaune," the phrase, "Speech was given to man to disguise his thoughts."
La parole a été donnée à l'homme pour déguiser sa pensée.
Speech was given to man to disguise his thoughts.
Attributed to Talleyrand by Barrère in Memoirs.
Doubtless there are men of great parts that are guilty of downright bashfulness, that by a strange hesitation and reluctance to speak murder the finest and most elegant thoughts and render the most lively conceptions flat and heavy.
The Tatler, No. 252.
Nullum est jam dictum quod non dictum sit prius.
Nothing is said nowadays that has not been said before.
Oh, but the heavenly grammar did I hold
Of that high speech which angels' tongues turn gold!
So should her deathless beauty take no wrong,
Praised in her own great kindred's fit and cognate tongue,
Or if that language yet with us abode
Which Adam in the garden talked with God!
But our untempered speech descends—poor heirs!
Grimy and rough-cast still from Babel's brick layers:
Curse on the brutish jargon we inherit,
Strong but to damn, not memorise, a spirit!
A cheek, a lip, a limb, a bosom, they
Move with light ease in speech of working-day;
And women we do use to praise even so.