Linguistics Quotes

Quotes tagged as "linguistics" (showing 1-30 of 168)
Stephen Fry
“Language is my whore, my mistress, my wife, my pen-friend, my check-out girl. Language is a complimentary moist lemon-scented cleansing square or handy freshen-up wipette. Language is the breath of God, the dew on a fresh apple, it's the soft rain of dust that falls into a shaft of morning sun when you pull from an old bookshelf a forgotten volume of erotic diaries; language is the faint scent of urine on a pair of boxer shorts, it's a half-remembered childhood birthday party, a creak on the stair, a spluttering match held to a frosted pane, the warm wet, trusting touch of a leaking nappy, the hulk of a charred Panzer, the underside of a granite boulder, the first downy growth on the upper lip of a Mediterranean girl, cobwebs long since overrun by an old Wellington boot.”
Stephen Fry

Frantz Fanon
“To speak a language is to take on a world, a culture.”
Frantz Fanon

George Steiner
“when a language dies, a way of understanding the world dies with it, a way of looking at the world. ”
George Steiner

Ludwig Wittgenstein
“Language disguises thought.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

Robert A. Heinlein
“Long human words (the longer the better) were easy, unmistakable, and rarely changed their meanings . . . but short words were slippery, unpredictable, changing their meanings without any pattern.”
Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

Nina George
“Often it’s not we who shape words, but the words we use that shape us.”
Nina George, The Little Paris Bookshop

Steven Pinker
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to compute it.”
Steven Pinker, Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language

David Foster Wallace
“...we live in an era of terrible preoccupation with presentation and interpretation, one in which relations between who someone is and what he believes and how he "expresses himself" have been thrown into big time flux.”
David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster and Other Essays

عبد الوهاب المسيري
“نجد أن الفن الحداثي يزداد ابهاما وتعقيدا حتى اصبح فنا نخبويا رغم ثورته على البرجوازية”
عبد الوهاب المسيري, اللغة والمجاز بين التوحيد ووحدة الوجود

“The job of the linguist, like that of the biologist or the botanist, is not to tell us how nature should behave, or what its creations should look like, but to describe those creations in all their messy glory and try to figure out what they can teach us about life, the world, and, especially in the case of linguistics, the workings of the human mind.”
Arika Okrent, In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and the Mad Dreamers Who Tried to Build a Perfect Language

Michael Crichton
“The academic world was marching toward ever more specialized knowledge, expressed in ever more dense jargon.”
Michael Crichton, The Lost World

David Foster Wallace
“There's a grosser irony about Politically Correct English. This is that PCE purports to be the dialect of progressive reform but is in fact - in its Orwellian substitution of the euphemisms of social equality for social equality itself - of vastly more help to conservatives and the US status quo than traditional SNOOT prescriptions ever were.”
David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster and Other Essays

Bill Bryson
“Language, never forget, is more fashion than science, and matters of usage, spelling and pronunciation tend to wander around like hemlines.”
Bill Bryson, The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way

“Before you judge me as some kind of 'anything goes' language heathen, let me just say that I'm not against usage standards. I don't violate them when I want to sound like an educated person, for the same reason I don't wear a bikini to a funeral when I want to look like a respectful person. There are social conventions for the way we do lots of things, and it is to everyone's benefit to be familiar with them. But logic ain't got nothin' to do with it.”
Arika Okrent, In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and the Mad Dreamers Who Tried to Build a Perfect Language

“We cannot control the way people interpret our ideas or thoughts, but we can control the words and tones we choose to convey them. Peace is built on understanding, and wars are built on misunderstandings. Never underestimate the power of a single word, and never recklessly throw around words. One wrong word, or misinterpreted word, can change the meaning of an entire sentence - and even start a war. And one right word, or one kind word, can grant you the heavens and open doors.”
Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem

Hal Herzog
“Psycholinguists argue about whether language reflects our perception of reality or helps create them. I am in the latter camp. Take the names we give the animals we eat. The Patagonian toothfish is a prehistoric-looking creature with teeth like needles and bulging yellowish eyes that lives in deep waters off the coast of South America. It did not catch on with sophisticated foodies until an enterprising Los Angeles importer renamed it the considerably more palatable "Chilean sea bass.”
Hal Herzog, Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's So Hard to Think Straight About Animals

“In the world “out there,” there are no verbs, no speech events, and no adjacency pairs. There are particles of matter moving around in certain recurrent and yet not fully predictable patterns. We interpret such experiences as and through symbolic means, including linguistic expressions. That’s what it means to be human.”
Duranti a Alessandro, Linguistic Anthropology: A Reader

Mark Twain
“There are ten parts of speech and they are all troublesome.”
Mark Twain, The Awful German Language / Die schreckliche deutsche Sprache

Steven Pinker
“In the speech sound wave, one word runs into the next seamlessly; there are no little silences between spoken words the way there are white spaces between written words. We simply hallucinate word boundaries when we reach the end of a stretch of sound that matches some entry in our mental dictionary.”
Steven Pinker, The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language

Terry Eagleton
“All communication involves faith; indeed, some linguisticians hold that the potential obstacles to acts of verbal understanding are so many and diverse that it is a minor miracle that they take place at all.”
Terry Eagleton, Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate

Charles Darwin
“It may be worth while to illustrate this view of classification, by taking the case of languages. If we possessed a perfect pedigree of mankind, a genealogical arrangement of the races of man would afford the best classification of the various languages now spoken throughout the world; and if all extinct languages, and all intermediate and slowly changing dialects, were to be included, such an arrangement would be the only possible one. Yet it might be that some ancient languages had altered very little and had given rise to few new languages, whilst others had altered much owing to the spreading, isolation, and state of civilisation of the several co-descended races, and had thus given rise to many new dialects and languages. The various degrees of difference between the languages of the same stock, would have to be expressed by groups subordinate to groups; but the proper or even the only possible arrangement would still be genealogical; and this would be strictly natural, as it would connect together all languages, extinct and recent, by the closest affinities, and would give the filiation and origin of each tongue.”
Charles Darwin

Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza
“If there's any interaction between genes and languages, it is often languages that influence genes, since linguistic differences between populations lessen the chance of genetic exchange between them.”
Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza

Diane Ackerman
“Devising a vocabulary for gardening is like devising a vocabulary for sex. There are the correct Latin names, but most people invent euphemisms. Those who refer to plants by Latin name are considered more expert, if a little pedantic.”
Diane Ackerman, Cultivating Delight: A Natural History of My Garden

John Rogers Searle
“It seemed to a number of philosophers of language, myself included, that we should attempt to achieve a unification of Chomsky's syntax, with the results of the researches that were going on in semantics and pragmatics. I believe that this effort has proven to be a failure. Though Chomsky did indeed revolutionize the subject of linguistics, it is not at all clear, at the end the century, what the solid results of this revolution are. As far as I can tell there is not a single rule of syntax that all, or even most, competent linguists are prepared to agree is a rule.”
John Rogers Searle

“Уraaнлa төнчу чoк. Mind has no end.”
K. David Harrison

“Of all the words that exist in any language only a bare minority are pure, unadulterated, original roots. The majority are "coined" words, forms that have been in one way or another created, augmented, cut down, combined, and recombined to convey new needed meanings, The language mint is more than a mint; it is a great manufacturing center, where all sorts of productive activities go on unceasingly.”
Mario Andrew Pei

Seneca
“[Philosophers] have come to envy the philologist and the mathematician, and they have taken over all the inessential elements in those studies—with the result that they know more about devoting care and attention to their speech than about devoting such attention to their lives.”
Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

Alex Morritt
“In the absence of a formally agreed, worldwide dictionary definition of 'Quotography' (in 2016), here are my two cents worth: 'Quotography is the art of pairing unique quotations with complementary images in order to express thought-provoking ideas, challenging concepts, profound sentiments'.”
Alex Morritt, Lines & Lenses

Jennifer Egan
“Das mine!' protested Ava, Bennie's daughter, affirming Alex's recent theory that language acquisition involved a phase of speaking German. She snatched a plastic skillet away from his own daughter, Cara-Ann, who lurched after it, roaring, 'Mine pot! Mine pot!”
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Thomas Mann
“Die älteste Sprache, sagt man, sei das Indogermanische, Indo-europäische, das Sanskrit. Aber es ist so gut wie gewiß, daß das ein "Ur" ist, so vorschnell wie manches andere, und daß es eine wieder ältere Muttersprache gegeben hat, welche die Wurzeln der arischen sowohl wie auch der semitischen und chamitischen Mundarten in sich beschloß. Wahrscheinlich ist sie auf Atlantis gesprochen worden, dessen Silhouette die letzte im Fernendunst undeutlich noch sichtbare Vorbirgskulisse der Vergangenheit bildet, das aber selbst wohl kaum die Ur-Heimat des sprechenden Menschen ist.”
Thomas Mann, Joseph and His Brothers

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