A veritable feast of quotes for language lovers to savour

quotes about languageAs a copywriter with a linguistic background I am – unsurprisingly – more than a little bit interested in language. Not just the finer points of grammar, spelling and punctuation, but also its etymology, usage and evolution.

Following on from previous blog posts featuring quotes about writing and words, it seems only logical therefore to produce one about famous (and not so famous) language quotations.

So I hope you enjoy this collection of quotes about language…

Defining language

Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.” ~ Rita Mae Brown

“Language is the dress of thought.” ~ Samuel Johnson

“Language has no independent existence apart from the people who use it. It is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end of understanding who you are and what society is like.” ~ David Crystal

“Language is wine upon the lips.” ~ Virginia Woolf

“Language is not a handmaiden to perception; it is perception; it gives shape to what would otherwise be inert and dead.” ~ Stanley Fish

“Language is not simply a reporting device for experience but a defining framework for it.” ~ Benjamin Whorf

Language in action

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

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” ~ Nelson Mandela

“He [Winston Churchill] mobilized the English language and sent it into battle to steady his fellow countrymen and hearten those Europeans upon whom the long dark night of tyranny had descended.” ~ Ed Murrow

“If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular.” ~ David Ogilvy

“Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” ~ George Orwell

Limitations and evolution

“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein

“To experience sublime natural beauty is to confront the total inadequacy of language to describe what you see. Words cannot convey the scale of a view that is so stunning it is felt.” ~ Eleanor Catton

“The English language is a work in progress. Have fun with it.” ~ Jonathan Culver

“Texting has added a new dimension to language use, but its long-term impact is negligible. It is not a disaster.” ~ David Crystal

Humorous quotes about language

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

“England and America are two countries divided by a common language.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

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

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

“It’s a strange world of language in which skating on thin ice can get you into hot water.” ~ Franklin P. Jones

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

These represent just a small selection of the many wonderful quotes about language. Do you know any others that should be included here? If so, please do let me know below.

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