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The Best Quotes About Language

Updated June 14, 2019 1.7k votes 478 voters 30.6k views88 items

List RulesMust be a famous or well-known quote. Vote for the Language sayings that strongly resonate with you, and downvote any you didn't like.

A list of the best language quotes and sayings, including the names of each speaker or author when available. This list is sorted by popularity, so only the most famous language quotes are at the top. The authors of these historic language quotes are displayed next to each quote, so if you see one you like be sure to check out other inspirational language quotes from that same writer.

This list answers the questions, "What are the best quotes about language?" and "What are inspirational language quotes?"

This list includes notable language quotes by various authors, writers, playwrights, speakers, politicians, athletes, poets, and more. Vote on your favorites so that the greatest language quotes rise to the top, as the order of the list changes dynamically based on votes. Don't let your favorite language sayings get to the bottom of the list.
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  • 26
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    Life and language are alike sacred. Homicide and verbicide --that is, violent treatment of a word with fatal results to its legitimate meaning, which is its life --are alike forbidden.

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

    Samuel Johnson
  • 28
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    An art whose medium is language will always show a high degree of critical creativeness, for speech is itself a critique of life: it names, it characterizes, it passes judgment, in that it creates.

    Thomas Mann
  • 29
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    A language is a dialect with an army and a navy

    Max Weinreich
  • 30
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    Language is the dress of thought.

    Samuel Johnson
  • 31
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    There is the fear, common to all English-only speakers, that the chief purpose of foreign languages is to make fun of us. Otherwise, you know, why not just come out and say it?

    Barbara Ehrenreich
  • 32
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    We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.

    Booker T. Washington
  • 33
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    There is no such thing as an ugly language. Today I hear every language as if it were the only one, and when I hear of one that is dying, it overwhelms me as though it were the death of the earth.

    Elias Canetti
  • 34
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    Viewed freely, the English language is the accretion and growth of every dialect, race, and range of time, and is both the free and compacted composition of all.

    Walt Whitman
  • 35
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    The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.

    George Orwell
  • 36
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    We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.

    Oscar Wilde
  • 37
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    The downtrodden, who are the great creators of slang.

    Anthony Burgess
  • 38
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    Drawing on my fine command of the language, I said nothing.

    Robert Benchley
  • 39
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    Language is a form of human reason, which has its internal logic of which man knows nothing.

    Claude Lévi-Strauss
  • 40
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    The language of truth is simple.

    Euripides
  • 41
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    Language is political. That's why you and me, my Brother and Sister, that's why we supposed to choke our natural self into the weird, lying, barbarous, unreal, white speech and writing habits that the schools lay down like holy law. Because, in other words, the powerful don't play; they mean to keep that power, and those who are the powerless (you and me) better shape up --mimic/ape/suck --in the very image of the powerful, or the powerful will destroy you --you and our children.

    June Jordan
  • 42
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    We are armed with language adequate to describe each leaf of the filed, but not to describe human character.

    Henry David Thoreau
  • 43
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    Writing in English is the most ingenious torture ever devised for sins committed in previous lives. The English reading public explains the reason why.

    James Joyce
  • 44
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    Curiously enough, it seems to be only in describing a mode of language which does not mean what it says that one can actually say what one means.

    Paul de Man
  • 45
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    All official institutions of language are repeating machines: school, sports, advertising, popular songs, news, all continually repeat the same structure, the same meaning, often the same words: the stereotype is a political fact, the major figure of ideology.

    Roland Barthes
  • 46
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    All true language is incomprehensible, like the chatter of a beggar's teeth.

    Antonin Artaud
  • 47
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    Public speaking is done in the public tongue, the national or tribal language; and the language of our tribe is the men's language. Of course women learn it. We're not dumb. If you can tell Margaret Thatcher from Ronald Reagan, or Indira Gandhi from General Somoza, by anything they say, tell me how. This is a man's world, so it talks a man's language.

    Ursula K. Le Guin
  • 48
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    Language is a part of our organism and no less complicated than it.

    Ludwig Wittgenstein
  • 49
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    There is in every child a painstaking teacher, so skilful that he obtains identical results in all children in all parts of the world. The only language men ever speak perfectly is the one they learn in babyhood, when no one can teach them anything!

    Maria Montessori
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    The learned fool writes his nonsense in better language than the unlearned, but it is still nonsense.

    Benjamin Franklin