The Importance of Words

dictionarySlovenly language corrodes the mind. — John Q. Adams.

Words, when well chosen, have so great a force in them that a description often gives us more lively ideas than the sight of things themselves. — Joseph Addison, The Spectator, No. 416 (June 27, 1712).

There is a certain Coldness and Indifference in the Phrases of our European Languages, when they are compared with the Oriental Forms of Speech; and it happens very luckily, that the Hebrew Idioms run into the English Tongue with a particular Grace and Beauty. Our Language has received innumerable Elegancies and Improvements, from that Infusion of Hebraisms, which are derived to it out of the Poetical Passages in Holy Writ. They give a Force and Energy to our Expressions, warm and animate our Language, and convey our Thoughts in more ardent and intense Phrases, than any that are to be met with in our own Tongue. There is something so pathetick in this kind of Diction, that it often sets the Mind in a Flame, and makes our Hearts burn within us. How cold and dead does a Prayer appear, that is composed in the most Elegant and Polite Forms of Speech, which are natural to our Tongue, when it is not heightened by that Solemnity of Phrase, which may be drawn from the Sacred Writings. — Joseph Addison, The Spectator, No. 405 (June 14, 1712).

If the way in which men express their thoughts is slipshod and mean, it will be very difficult for their thoughts themselves to escape being the same. — Alford.

By words the mind is winged. — Aristophanes.

Charles V used to say that "the more languages a man knew, he was so many more times a man." Each new form of human speech introduces one into a new world of thought and life. So in some degree is it in traversing other continents and mingling with other races. As a hawk flieth not high with one wing, even so a man reacheth not to excellence with one tongue. — Roger Ascham.

Our common stock of words embodies all the distinctions men have found worth drawing, and the connexions they have found worth marketing, in the lifetimes of many generation; these surely are likely to be more numerous, more sound, since they have stood up to the long test of thee survival of the fittest, and more subtle, at least in all ordinary and reasonably practical matters, than any that you or I are likely to think up in our arm-chairs of an afternoon-the most favoured alternative method. — J. L. Austin, 'A Plea for Excuses', Philosophical Papers,1961.

Men suppose their reason has command over their words; still it happens that words in return exercise authority on reason. — Francis Bacon.

There are also idols formed by the reciprocal intercourse and society of man with man, which we call idols of the market, from the commerce and association of men with each other; for men converse by means of language, but words are formed at the will of the generality, and there arises from a bad and unapt formation of words a wonderful obstruction to the mind. Nor can the definitions and explanations with which learned men guard and protect themselves in some instances afford a complete remedy— words still manifestly force the understanding, throw everything into confusion, and lead mankind into vain and innumerable controversies and fallacies. — Francis Bacon, Novum Organum, I, 43.

All words have the "taste" of a profession, a genre, a tendency, a party, a particular work, a particular person, a generation, an age group, the day and hour. Each word tastes of the context and contexts in which it has lived its socially charged life... — Mikhail Bakhtin in The Dialogic Imagination.

Thinking cannot be clear till it has had expression. We must write, or speak, or act our thoughts, or they will remain in a half torpid form. Our feelings must have expression, or they will be as clouds, which, till they descend in rain, will never bring up fruit or flower, So it is with all the inward feelings; expression gives them development. Thought is the blossom; language the opening bud; action the fruit behind it. — H.W. Beecher.

The language denotes the man; a coarse or refined character finds its expression naturally in coarse or refined phraseology. — Christian Bovee.

How did the surgeon acquire his knowledge of the structure of the human body? In part this comes from the surgeon's firsthand experience during his long training. But what made this experience fruitful was the surgeon's earlier training, the distillation of generations of past experience which was transmitted to the surgeon in his anatomy classes. It has taken hundreds of years and millions of dissections to build up the detailed and accurate picture of the structure of the human body that enables the surgeon to know where to cut. A highly specialized sublanguage has evolved for the sole purpose of describing this structure. The surgeon had to learn this jargon of anatomy before the anatomical facts could be effectively transmitted to him. Thus, underlying the 'effective action' of the surgeon is an 'effective language.' — I. D. J. Bross, "Languages in Cancer Research," in Murphy, Pressman, and Mirand, eds., Perspectives in Cancer Research and Treatment (New York: Alan R. Liss, 1973), p. 217.

Those who write as they speak, even though they speak well, write badly. — Comte de Buffon, Discours sur le style, 1753.

A very great part of the mischiefs that vex this world arises from words. — Edmund Burke.

A blow with a word strikes deeper than a blow with a sword. — Robert Burton, The anatomy of melancholy I.2.4.4.

Language is called the garment of thought: however, it should rather be, language is the flesh-garment, the body, of thought. — Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus, Book 1, Chapter 11.

The coldest word was once a glowing new metaphor. — Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present, 1843.

Language is not merely a means of expression and communication; it is an instrument of experiencing, thinking, and feeling ... Our ideas and experiences are not independent of language; they are all integral parts of the same pattern, the warp and woof of the same texture. We do not first have thoughts, ideas, feelings, and then put them into a verbal framework. We think in words, by means of words. Language and experience are inextricably interwoven, and the awareness of one awakens the other. Words and idioms are as indispensible to our thoughts and experiences as are colors and tints to a painting. — William Chomsky (died 1977), Hebrew: the Eternal Language (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1957), p.3. William Chomsky was Professor of Hebrew at Dropsie College and one of the world's foremost Hebrew grammarians. He was the father of Noam Chomsky, the famous linguist.

Language is properly the servant of thought, but not unfrequently becomes its master. The conceptions of a feeble writer are greatly modified by his style; a man of vigorous powers makes his style bend to his conceptions ... a fact compatible enough with the acknowledgement of Dryden, that a rhyme had often helped him to an idea. — Clulow.

Language is the armory of the human mind, and at once contains the trophies of its past and the weapons of its future conquests. — Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

For one word a man is often deemed to be wise, and for one word he is often deemed to be foolish. We should indeed be careful what we say. — Confucius.

Give me the right word and the right accent and I will move the world. — Joseph Conrad, A personal record.

He who wants to persuade should put his trust, not in the right argument, but in the right word. The power of sound has always been greater than the power of sense. — Joseph Conrad, A personal record.

Language is not only the vehicle of thought, it is a great and efficient instrument in thinking. — Sir H. Davy.

The individual's whole experience is built upon the plan of his language. — Henri Delacroix.

All translation, I suppose may be reduced to these three heads. First, that of metaphrase, or turning an author word by word, and line by line, from one language into another... The second way is that of paraphrase, or translation with latitude, where the author is kept in view by the translator, so as never to be lost, but his words are not so strictly followed as his sense ... The third way is that of imitation, where the translator (if he has not now lost that name) assumes the liberty not only to vary the words and sense, but to forsake them both as he sees occasion; and taking only some general hints from the original ... work as he pleases. — John Dryden, Preface to Ovid's Epistles, 1680.

For the same things uttered in Hebrew, and translated into another tongue, have not the same force in them: and not only these things, but the law itself, and the prophets, and the rest of the books, have no small difference, when they are spoken in their own language. — Ecclesiasticus, The Prologue.

How can we appraise a proposal if the terms hurled at our ears can mean anything or nothing, and change their significance with the inflection of the voice? Welfare state, national socialism, radical, liberal, conservative, reactionary and a regiment of others ... these terms in today's usage, are generally compounds of confusion and prejudice. If our attitudes are muddled, our language is often to blame. A good tonic for clearer thinking is a dose of precise, legal definition. — Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Though the origin of most of our words is forgotten, each word was at first a stroke of genious, and obtained currency because for the moment it symbolized the world to the first speaker and to the hearer. The etymologist finds the deadest word to have been once a brilliant picture. Language is fossilized poetry. — Emerson, The Poet .

Poetry is what is lost in translation. — Robert Frost, Quoted in Robert Frost: a Backward Look by Louis Untermeyer (1964).

So sensible were the Romans of the influence of language over national manners, that it was their most serious care to extend, with the progress of their arms, the use of the Latin tongue. — Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, II.

Who does not know another language does not know his own. — Goethe, Sprüche in Prosa.

The pressure to conform to 'politically correct' speech is primarily a pressure not to use certain expressions. But when our freedom to use certain expressions is taken away, then our ability to think in certain ways is also curtailed. — Wayne Grudem, What's Wrong with Gender-Neutral Bibles 1997.

Words ... so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become, in the hands of one who knows how to combine them! — Nathaniel Hawthorne, American Notebooks, 1841-1852.

Languages happily restrict the mind to what is of its own native growth and fitted for it, as rivers and mountains bond countries; or the empire of learning, as well as states, would become unwieldy and overgrown. — Hazlitt, 'On Old English Writers and Speakers', 1825.

Most wonderful of all are words, and how they make friends one with another. — O. Henry.

The first author of speech was God himself, that instructed Adam how to name such creatures as He presented to his sight... — Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, I, 4.

The most noble and profitable invention of all other was that of speech, consisting of names or appellations, and their connexion; whereby men register their thoughts, recall them when they are past, and also declare them one to another for mutual utility and conversation; without which there had been amongst men neither Commonwealth, nor society, nor contract, nor peace, no more than amongst lions, bears and wolves. — Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, I, 4.

A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanging; it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and time in which it is used. — Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Language is a solemn thing: it grows out of life ... out of its agonies and ecstasies, its wants and weariness. Every language is a temple in which the soul of those who speak it is enshrined. — Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow. — Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall. — Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Why then should words challenge Eternity, When greatest men, and greatest actions die? Use may revive the obsoletest words, And banish those that now are most in vogue; Use is the judge, the law, and rule of speech. — Horace, Ars Poetica.

Words may be either the servants or masters. If the former they may safely guide us in the way of truth. If the latter they intoxicate the brain and lead into swamps of thought where there is no solid footing. Among the sources of those innumerable calamities which from age to age have overwhelmed mankind, may be reckoned as one of the principal, the abuse of words. — George Horne.

Some hold translations not unlike to be The wrong side of a Turkey tapestry. — James Howell, Familiar Letters, Book I, Letter 6.

Language is by its very nature a communal thing; that is, it expresses never the exact thing but a compromise ... that which is common to you, me, and everybody. — T. E. Hulme, Speculations, 1924.

Der mensch lebt mit den Gegenständen hauptsächlich, ja ... sogar ausschliesslich so, wie die Sprache sie ihm zuführt. [Man lives with the world about him principally, indeed ... exclusively, as language presents it to him]. — Wilhelm von Humboldt, 1767-1835.

Words are tools which automatically carve concepts out of experience. — Julian Sorrell Huxley.

The poor and the affluent are not communicating because they do not have the same words. — Peter Jennison.

The common people do not accurately adapt their thoughts to objects; nor, secondly, do they accurately adapt their words to their thoughts; they do not mean to lie; but, taking no pains to be exact, they give you very false accounts. A great part of their language is proverbial; if anything rocks at all, they say it rocks like a cradle; and in this way they go on. — Samuel Johnson.

As any custom is disused, the words that expressed it must perish with it; as any opinion grows popular, it will innovate speech in the same proportion as it alters practice. — Samuel Johnson, Preface, Dictionary of the English language, 1755.

Every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of the language. — Samuel Johnson, Dictionary of the English language.

Language is the dress of thought; and as the noblest mien, or most graceful action, would be degraded and obscured by a garb appropriated to the gross employments of rustics or mechanics, so the most heroic sentiments will lose their efficacy, and the most splendid ideas drop their magnificence, if they are conveyed by words used commonly upon low and trivial occasions, debased by vulgar mouths, and contaminated by inelegant applications. Truth indeed is always truth, and reason is always reason; they have an intrinsic and unalterable value, and constitute that intellectual gold which defies destruction: but gold may be so concealed in baser matter, that only a chemist can recover it; sense may be so hidden in unrefined and plebeian words, that none but philosophers can distinguish it; and both may be so buried in impurities, as not to pay the cost of their extraction. — Samuel Johnson, "The Life of Cowley," English Poets (1779).

Poetry cannot be translated; and, therefore, it is the poets that preserve the languages; for we would not be at the trouble to learn a language if we could have all that is written in it just as well in a translation. But as the beauties of poetry cannot be preserved in any language except that in which it was originally written, we learn the language. — Samuel Johnson.

Words borrowed of Antiquity do lend a kind of Majesty to style, and are not without their delight sometimes. For they have the authority of years, and out of their intermission do win to themselves a kind of grace-like newness. But the eldest of the present, and newest of the past Language, is the best. — Ben Jonson, Discoveries.

In the commerce of speech use only coin of gold and silver. — Joubert.

Despite the great wealth of words which European languages possess, the thinker finds himself often at a loss for an expression exactly suited to his conception, for want of which he is unable to make himself intelligible either to others or to himself.
— Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, Transcendental Dialectic.

Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind. — Rudyard Kipling, Speech, Feb. 14, 1923.

Our concepts structure what we perceive, how we get around in the world and how we relate to other people. Our conceptual system thus plays a central role in defining our everyday realities. — George Lakoff.

Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature. — George Lakoff.

Learn the value of a man's words and expressions, and you know him. Each man has a measure of his own for everything; this he offers you inadvertently in his words. He who has a superlative for everything wants a measure for the great or small. — Johann Kaspar Lavater.

Most of our expressions are metaphorical ... the philosophy of our forefathers lies hidden in them. — Lichtenberg, Aphorisms, 1764-99.

Regardless of how primitive or abbreviated language may be, it is pivotal to cognition: by means of it we designate numbers, perform mathematics, calculations, analyze perceptions, distinguish the essential from the nonessential, and form categories of distinct impressions. Apart from being a means of communicating, language is fundamental to perception and memory, thinking and behavior. It organizes our inner life. — A. R. Luria.

I have undertaken to translate the Bible into German. This was good for me; otherwise I might have died in the mistaken notion that I was a learned fellow. — Martin Luther.

Hardly any original thoughts on mental or social subjects ever make their way among mankind or assume their proper importance in the minds even of their inventors, until aptly selected words or phrases have as it were nailed them down and held them fast. — John Stuart Mill, A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive: Being a Connected View of the Principles of Evidence and the Methods of Scientific Investigation (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1858), p. 426.

Bad words are as influential as the plague and the pestilence. They have wrought more evil than battle, murder, and sudden death. They creep through the ear into the heart, call up all its bad passions, and tempt it to break God's commandments. A few bad words got into the ear of the mother of mankind, and they led her on to eat the forbidden fruit, and thus to bring death into the world. — G. Mogridge.

The word is half his that speaks and half his that hears it. — Montaigne, Essays III.xiii.

The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc [English Socialism], but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought--that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc--should be literally unthinkable, at least as far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meanings and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect method. This was done partly by the invention of new words and by stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meanings whatever. — George Orwell, 1984.

"You haven't a real appreciation of Newspeak, Winston ... The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect." — Syme, explaining Newspeak to Winston in George Orwell's novel, 1984.

What is originality? To see something that has no name as yet and hence cannot be mentioned although it stares us all in the face. The way men usually are, it takes a name to make something visible for them. Those with originality have for the most part also assigned names. — Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science 1882-7.

Expression is the dress of thought, and still
Appears more decent as more suitable.
A vile Conceit in pompous words express'd
Is like a clown in regal purple dress'd
For diff'rent styles with diff'rent subjects sort,
As sev'ral garbs with country, town, and court.
Some by old words to fame have made pretence,
Ancients in phrase, mere moderns in their sense.
— Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism (1711)

A foreign tongue is spread not by fire and the sword but by its own richness and superiority. — Alexander Pushkin, on a translation of Krylov's Fables, cit. Pushkin on Literature, ed. Tatiana Wolfe.

According to Solomon, life and death are in the power of the tongue; and as Euripedes truly affirmeth, every unbridled tongue in the end shall find itself unfortunate; in all that ever I observed I ever found that men's fortunes are oftener made by their tongues than by their virtues, and more men's fortunes overthrown thereby, also, than by their vices. — Sir Walter Raleigh.

For myself, I am so aghast at the increasing difficulties which present themselves, and so well convinced of the almost demonstrable impossibility that languages should owe their original institution to merely human means, that I leave, to any who will undertake it, the discussion of the difficult problem, which was most necessary, the existence of society to the invention of language or the invention of language to the establishment of society. — Rousseau, Origin of Inequality.

We may appropriately speak of a language of the Holy Ghost. For in the Bible it is evident that the Holy Spirit has been at work, moulding for itself a distinctively religious mode of expression out of the language of the country which it has chosen as its sphere, and transforming the linguistic elements which it found ready to hand, and even conceptions already existing, into a shape and form appropriate to itself and all its own. — Richard Rothe, Zur Dogmatik (Gotha, 1863), p. 238.

A language will often be wiser, not merely than the vulgar, but even than the wisest of those who speak it. Being like amber in its efficacy to circulate the electric spirit of truth, it is also like amber in embalming and preserving the relics of ancient wisdom, although one is not seldom puzzled to decipher its contents. Sometimes it locks up truth, which were once well known, but which, in the course of ages, have passed out of sight and been forgotten. In other cases it holds the germs of truths, of which, though they were never plainly discerned, the genius of its framers caught a glimpse in a happy moment of divination. — George Augustus Sala (1828-1895).

All language is rhetorical, and even the senses are poets. — George Santayana, The letters of George Santayana.

Words are weapons, and it is dangerous in speculation, as in politics, to borrow them from the arsenal of the enemy. — George Santayana, Obiter Scripta.

Human beings do not live in the objective world alone, nor alone in the world of social activity as ordinarily understood, but are very much at the mercy of the particular language which has become the medium of expression for their society. It is quite an illusion to imagine that one adjusts to reality essentially without the use of language and that language is merely an incidental means of solving specific problems of communication or reflection. The fact of the matter is that the 'real world' is to a large extent unconsciously built upon the language habits of the group. No two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered as representing the same social reality. The worlds in which different societies live are distinct worlds, not merely the same world with different labels attached... We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation. — Edward Sapir [1884-1936], Culture, Language and Personality.

So close is the connection between intelligence and speech, between thought and word, that the one may be called the inward speech, or speech concealed, and the other the outward thought, or thought revealed. … In the same degree in which the mind produces thoughts it also clothes them in words of some kind, although they may not be expressed or uttered. If a man thinks he knows a thing, but cannot say it, his knowledge is to the same extent defective; the idea may be begotten, but it is not born until it assumes shape and form in some word or words, or some symbolic signs, however imperfectly they may convey the meaning. — Phillip Schaff, “The English Language,” in Literature and Poetry: Studies on the English Language; the Poetry of the Bible; etc. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1890), pp. 1-2.

Syllables govern the world. — John Selden, Table Talk: Power.

England and America are two countries separated by the same language. — George Bernard Shaw.

It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth, without making some other Englishman despise him. — George Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion, Preface.

No man fully capable of his own language ever masters another. — George Bernard Shaw, Maxims for Revolutionists.

The success and enduring influence of any systematic construction of truth, be it sacred or secular, depends as much upon an exact terminology, as upon close and deep thinking itself. Indeed, unless the results to which the human mind arrives are plainly stated, and firmly fixed in an exact phraseology, its thinking is to very little purpose in the end. 'Terms,' says Whewell, 'record discoveries.' [History of Inductive Sciences.] There may be the most thorough analysis, and the most comprehensive and combining synthesis; the truth in its deepest and most scientific form may be reached by the individual mind; and yet the public mind and after ages be none the wiser for it. That which was seen it may be with crystal clearness, and in bold outline, in the consciousness of an individual thinker, may fail to become the property and possession of mankind at large, because it is not transferred from the individual to the general mind, by means of a precise phraseology, and a rigorous terminology. Nothing is in its own nature more fugacious and shifting than thought; and particularly thought upon the mysteries of Christianity. A conception that is plain and accurate in the understanding of the first man becomes obscure and false in that of the second, because it was not grasped, and firmly held, in the form and proportions with which it first came up, and then handed over to other minds, a fixed and scientific quantity. — William G.T. Shedd, A History of Christian Doctrine, vol. 1 (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1865), pp. 362-3.

He gave man speech, and speech created thought, which is the measure of the universe. — Shelley, Prometheus Unbound II.iv.

It is with words as with sunbeams ... the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn. — Robert Southey.

We next went to the School of Languages, where three Professors sat in Consultation upon improving that of their own Country. The first Project was to shorten Discourse by cutting Polysyllables into one, and leaving out Verbs and Participles; because in Reality all things imaginable are but Nouns. — Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels.

We are armed with language adequate to describe each leaf of the field, but not to describe human character. — Henry David Thoreau.

Colors fade, temples crumble, empires fall, but wise words endure. — Edward Thorndike.

Language is the amber in which a thousand precious thoughts have been safely embedded and preserved. It has arrested ten thousand lightning-flashes of genius, which, unless thus fixed and arrested, might have been as bright, but would have also been as quickly passing and perishing as the lightning. — Trench.

The Church today is concerned about communicating with the contemporary world and especially about the need to speak in a new idiom. The language of the Church had better be the language of the New Testament. To proclaim the Gospel with new terminology is hazardous when much of the message and valuable overtones that are implicit in the New Testament might be lost forever. 'Most of the distortions and dissentions that have vexed the Church,' observed the late Dean of York, 'where these have touched theological understanding, have arisen through the insistence of sects or sections of the Christian community upon using words which are not found in the New Testament.' True, we must in our preaching employ the speech of the factories and homes of our century, or we will not preach at all. Here comes the clash of the two languages, the Biblical and the secular. We must translate. Else we shall continue to speak Greek. But our peril is that of succumbing to modern language and failing to preach the Gospel because we have made not only its language but its message 'modern.' — Nigel Turner, Christian Words (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1980), p. viii. Turner quotes Alan Richardson, Introduction to the Theology of the New Testament (SCM Press, 1958), p. 217.

I had perceaved by experyence how that it was impossible to stablysh the laye people in any truth, excepte the scripture were playnly layde before their eyes in their mother tongue. — William Tyndale.

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug. — Mark Twain.

An idea does not pass from one language to another without change. — Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo (1864-1936), Spanish writer, in The Tragic Sense of Life (1913).

Many a treasure besides Ali Baba's is unlocked with a verbal key. — Henry van Dyke.

While there are a good many reasons for the growth of the Church during the first five centuries, it appears that the sacred Scriptures in the language and in the hands of the laity had a good deal to do with it. — Morris Watkins.

Language as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God. — Noah Webster.

Not in books only, not yet in oral discourse, but often also in words there are boundless stores of moral and historic truth, and no less of passion and imagination laid up, from which lessons of infinite worth may be derived. — Whately.

We dissect nature along lines laid down by our native languages. The categories and types that we isolate from the world of phenomena we do not find there because they stare every observer in the face; on the contrary, the world is presented in a kaleidoscopic flux of impressions which has to be organized by our minds - and this means largely by the linguistic systems in our minds. We cut nature up, organize it into concepts, and ascribe significances as we do, largely because we are parties to an agreement to organize it in this way - an agreement that holds throughout our speech community and is codified in the patterns of our language. The agreement is, of course, an implicit and unstated one, but its terms are absolutely obligatory; we cannot talk at all except by subscribing to the organization and classification of data which the agreement decrees. — Benjamin Lee Whorf [1897-1941], Language, Thought and Reality.

A good catchword can obscure analysis for fifty years. — Wendell L. Wilkie, Town hall debate, 1938.

The knowledge of words is the gate of scholarship. — John Wilson.

The limits of my language stand for the limits of my world. — Ludwig Wittgenstein, quoted in Karl Kraus by Harry Zohn.