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Quotes

Language is the archives of history.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1844

We should have a great many 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, 1690

Every man is surrounded by a neighborhood of voluntary spies.

—Jane Austen, 1818

Do not the most moving moments of our lives find us all without words?

—Marcel Marceau, 1958

History does not merely touch on language, but takes place in it.

—Theodor Adorno, c. 1946

The chief merit of language is clearness, and we know that nothing detracts so much from this as do unfamiliar terms.

—Galen, c. 175

How absurd men are! They never use the liberties they have, they demand those they do not have. They have freedom of thought, they demand freedom of speech.

—Søren Kierkegaard, 1843

Slang is as old as speech and the congregating together of people in cities. It is the result of crowding and excitement and artificial life.

—John Camden Hotten, 1859

Newspapers always excite curiosity. No one ever lays one down without a feeling of disappointment.

—Charles Lamb, 1833

I am always sorry when any language is lost, because languages are the pedigrees of nations.

—Samuel Johnson, 1773

The only authors whom I acknowledge as American are the journalists. They indeed are not great writers, but they speak the language of their countrymen, and make themselves heard by them. 

—Alexis de Tocqueville, 1840

Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

—Ludwig Wittgenstein, 1921

I rather think the cinema will die. Look at the energy being exerted to revive it—yesterday it was color, today three dimensions. I don’t give it forty years more. Witness the decline of conversation. Only the Irish have remained incomparable conversationalists, maybe because technical progress has passed them by.

—Orson Welles, 1953