Thanks to words, we have been able to rise above the brutes; and thanks to words, we have often sunk to the level of the demons.

Aldous Huxley

The primary needs can be filled without language. We can eat, sleep, make love, build a house, bear children, without language. But we cannot ask questions. We cannot ask, “Who am I? Who are you? Why?”

Madeleine L’Engle

Until we learn the use of living words, we shall continue to be waxworks inhabited by gramophones.

Walter de la Mare

So hard is it to show the various meaning and imperfection of words, when we have nothing else but words to do it by.

John Locke

As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate action: you liberate a city by destroying it. Words are to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests.

Gore Vidal

I dream of lost / vocabularies that might express some of what / we no longer can.

Jack Gilbert, “The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart”

It may turn out that the great restive underground language rising from the American slums and fringe communities is the real American poetry and prose.

Ishmael Reed

Last year’s words belong to last year’s language / And next year’s words await another voice.

T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

Words have their genealogy, their history, their economy, their literature, their art and music, as too they have their weddings and divorces, their successes and defeats, their fevers, their undiagnosable ailments, their sudden deaths.

Virgilia Peterson

Learn a new language and get a new soul.

Czech proverb

Language doesn’t belong to grammarians, linguists, wordsmiths, writers, or editors. It belongs to the people who use it. It goes where people want it to go, and, like a balky mule, you can’t make it go where it doesn’t want to go.

Rosalie Maggio

Why is the alphabet in that order? Is it because of that song?

Steven Wright

She had the tough slangy local manner, the local obscenities, the curious American relative pronouns: what-the-hell, why-the-hell, where-the-hell, who-the-hell, how-the-hell were the only ones she used.

Christina Stead, The People with the Dogs

To speak a language is to take on a world, a culture.

Frantz Fanon

We open our mouths and out flow words whose ancestries we do not even know. We are walking lexicons. In a single sentence of idle chatter we preserve Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Norse; we carry a museum inside our heads, each day we commemorate peoples of whom we have never heard.

Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger

I have been a believer in the magic of language since, at a very early age, I discovered that some words got me into trouble and others got me out.

Katherine Dunn

We are absurdly accustomed to the miracle of a few written signs being able to contain immortal imagery, involutions of thought, new worlds with live people, speaking, weeping, laughing.

Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire

A word has power in and of itself. It comes from nothing into sound and meaning; it gives origin to all things. By means of words can a man deal with the world on equal terms.

N. Scott Momaday

Language is a city, to the building of which every human being brought a stone.

Ralph Waldo Emerson