Quotations About
language

Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.

Speech, 14 Feb 1923
Posted in: Rudyard Kipling

I should as soon think of swimming across Charles River when I wish to go to Boston, as of reading all my books in originals when I have them rendered for me in my mother tongue.

Books

Mac: Can I warn you about something? You’re a rich and famous person, and for that reason only, she may want to sleep with you.
Will: That didn’t sound like something that should come with a warning, that sounded like something that should come with balloons.
Mac: I loathe you right now.

Posted in: The Newsroom

“Yes it is,” said the Professor. “Wait—” he motioned to Richard, who was about to go out again and investigate— “let it be. It won’t be long.”

Richard stared in disbelief. “You say there’s a horse in your bathroom, and all you can do is stand there naming Beatles songs?”

Holly: I just don’t know where we are. There’s no two ways about it: I flamingoed up.
Rimmer: What do you mean?
Holly: It’s like a cock-up, only much much bigger.

Parallel Universe (season 2, episode 6)
Posted in: Red Dwarf

Judge Chamberlain Haller: Uh… did you say ‘yutes’?
Vinny Gambini: Yeah, two yutes.
Judge Chamberlain Haller: What is a yute?
Vinny Gambini: Oh, excuse me, your honor…Two youths.

Posted in: My Cousin Vinny

Children who hear acquire language without any particular effort; the words that fall from others’ lips they catch on the wing, as it were, delightedly, while the little deaf child must trap them by a slow and often painful process. But whatever the process, the result is wonderful. Gradually from naming an object we advance step by step until we have traversed the vast distance between our first stammered syllable and the sweep of thought in a line of Shakespeare.

The Story of My Life
Posted in: Helen Keller

Buffy: Am I crazy?
Willow: Well, crazy is such a strong word.
Giles: Let’s not rule it out, though.

Graduation Day, Part 2

A witty saying proves nothing.

Le dîner du comte de Boulainvilliers (1767)
Posted in: Voltaire

He had a word, too. Love, he called it. But I had been used to words for a long time. I knew that that word was like the others: just a shape to fill a lack; that when the right time came, you wouldn’t need a word for that anymore than for pride or fear.

As I Lay Dying (1930)
Posted in: William Faulkner

Jason: She over-French pronounces French words.

There is really nothing more to say — except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how.

The Bluest Eye (1969)
Posted in: Toni Morrison

No one has a finer command of language than the person who keeps his mouth shut.

Posted in: Sam Rayburn

Mal: So, she’s added cussing and hurling-about of things to her repertoire. She really is a prodigy.
Simon: It’s just a bad day.
Mal: No, a bad day is when someone’s yellin’ spooks the cattle. Understand? You ever see cattle stampede when they got no place to run? It’s kind of like a meat grinder. And it’ll lose us half the herd.

Posted in: Firefly

Humour is the first of the gifts to perish in a foreign tongue.

The Common Reader (1925)
Posted in: Virginia Woolf

Phil: I’m the cool dad. That’s my thing. I’m hip. I surf the Web. I text. LOL: laughing out loud. OMG: Oh my God. WTF: Why the face?

Pilot (season 1, episode 1)
Posted in: Modern Family

Ralph: Is there any way I could go with you to get one of those medals?
Markowski: Negatory.
Ralph: Does that mean maybe?

Posted in: Wreck-It Ralph

The trouble was that he was talking in philosophy, but they were listening in gibberish.

Small Gods
Posted in: Terry Pratchett

Haley: Mom, don’t do it! She’ll be in the same class as I am! Why are you even taking second year math?
Alex: You’re a senior. Why are you still in second year math?
Haley: Not still, again.

Phil on Wire (season 3, episode 3)
Posted in: Modern Family

Occasionally words must serve to veil the facts. But let this happen in such a way that no one become aware of it; or, if it should be noticed, excuses must be at hand to be produced immediately.

quoted in Arthur Koestler's Darkness At Noon (1941)

Nobody had ever said that to Bertie before. How about some chocolate? It was not a complex, phrase, but its power, its sheer, overwhelming sense of gift and possibility filled Bertie with awe. Well might more of us say these words to others, and more frequently – how healing would that prove to be. “Look, we’ve had our differences, but how about some chocolate?” Or: “I’m so sorry, how about some chocolate?” Or simply: “Great to see you! How about some chocolate?”

The Importance of Being Seven (2012)