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A language is a process of free creation; its laws and principles are fixed, but the manner in which the principles of generation are used is free and infinitely varied. Cartesian Linguistics, cited Noam Chomsky, tweet 31st July 2023
Another advantage we had was language. Planet of the Apemen: Battle for Earth I, BBC 2011
Our language lacks words to express this offence, the demolition of a man. Primo Levi, If This is a Man, re year in Auschwitz, 1958
It is hard for a woman to define her feelings in language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs. Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd
Hunting requires conscious planning and organisation by means of language as well as special weapons. Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man 1/13: Lower Than the Angels, BBC 1973
Language is central to us ... to Homo sapiens. Dr Alice Roberts, Origins of Us 3/3: Brains, BBC 2011
Grammar is what makes human language critical to igniting the human spark. The Human Spark III: Brain Matters, PBS 2010
Forming grammatically correct sentences is for the normal individual the prerequisite for any submission to social laws. No one is supposed to be ignorant of grammaticality … The unity of language is fundamentally political. Gilles Deleuze, Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia
There are now five thousand languages scattered abroad across the face of the Earth in such a bewildering variety that it seems impossible they could ever be traced back to a common starting point, a mother tongue. Horizon: Before Babel, BBC 1992
Surprising connections between the world’s languages. ibid.
Linguists have now established that a whole range of languages stretching from Iceland to India form one family called Indo-European. ibid.
What makes a language change over the centuries? ibid.
In Russia in the 1860s a group of linguists started to piece together a language twice as old as Indo-European. ibid.
For archaeologists this realisation that art, language and thought was all the same thing was a huge breakthrough. Suddenly what they had to look for was clear. Discover the earliest forms of human art and you would have found the day we learned to think. Horizon: The Day We Learned to Think, BBC 2003
From the moment we’re born we have language in our lives. A unique ability that defines us as human. Horizon: Why Do We Talk? BBC 2010
Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophische Untersuchungen
I took a First in Oriental Languages at Cambridge. You Only Live Twice 1967 starring Sean Connery & Donald Pleasence & Akiko Wakabayashi & Tetsuro Tamba & Lois Maxwell & Teru Shimada & Karin Dor & Bernard Lee & Desmond Llewelyn et al, director Lewis Gilbert, Bond
This telepathic species have no concept of spoken language. Star Trek: The Next Generation s7e7: Dark Page
Puking – he [Shakespeare] liked strong sounds of that sort. Simon Callow, Being Shakespeare, Sky Arts 2013
This is the language of politics and power … This is the world that little William and his classmates were being prepared for. ibid.
‘The Eleventh Edition is the definitive edition,’ he said. ‘We’re getting the language into its final shape – the shape it’s going to have when nobody speaks anything else. When we’ve finished with it, people like you will have to learn it all over again. You think, I dare say, that our chief job is inventing new words. But not a bit of it! We’re destroying words – scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. We’re cutting the language down to the bone. The Eleventh Edition won’t contain a single word that will become obsolete before the year 2050. George Orwell, 1984
But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. ibid.
The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declare aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink. George Orwell
Language ought to be the joint creation of poets and manual workers. George Orwell
To write or even speak English is not a science but an art. There are no reliable words. Whoever writes English is involved in a struggle that never lets up even for a sentence. He is struggling against vagueness, against obscurity, against the lure of the decorative adjective, against the encroachment of Latin and Greek, and, above all, against the worn-out phrases and dead metaphors with which the language is cluttered up. George Orwell
Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. George Orwell, Politics and the English Language
The revolution will be complete when the language is perfect. 1984 1984 starring John Hurt & Richard Burton & Suzanna Hamilton & Cyril Cusack & Gregor Fisher & James Waker & Andrew Wilde & Corina Seddon & Rupert Baderman & John Boswall et al, director Michael Radford, Winston to brother
The Hittite language was written in a series of triangular shaped signs called cuniform, one of the world’s oldest writing systems. Lost Cities of the Ancients: The Dark Side of Hattusha, BBC 2012
One by one the hieroglyphs were deciphered. ibid.
In language there are only differences. Even more important: a difference generally implies positive terms between which the difference is set up; but in language there are only differences without positive terms. Whether we take the signified or the signifier, language has neither ideas nor sounds that existed before the linguistic system, but only conceptual and phonic differences that have issued from the system. The idea or phonic substance that a sign contains is of less importance than the other signs that surround it ... A linguistic system is a series of differences of sound combined with a series of differences of ideas; but the pairing of a certain number of acoustical signs with as many cuts made from the mass thought engenders a system of values. Ferdinand de Saussure
Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita, 1955
You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style. ibid.
I am not yet so lost in lexicography as to forget that words are the daughters of the earth, and that things are the sons of heaven. Language is only the instrument of science, and words are but the signs of ideas: I wish, however, that the instrument might be less apt to decay, and that signs might be permanent, like the things which they donate. Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language, 1755
Every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of the language. ibid.
But these were the dreams of a poet doomed at last to wake a lexicographer. ibid.
In all pointed sentences, some degree of accuracy must be sacrificed to conciseness. Samuel Johnson, The British Magazine January 1760, ‘On the Bravery of the English Common Soldiers’
I have laboured to refine our language to grammatical purity, and to clear it from colloquial barbarisms, licentious idioms, and irregular combinations. Samuel Johnson, cited The Rambler 14th March 1752
I am always sorry when any language is lost, because languages are the pedigree of nations. Samuel Johnson, The Life of Samuel Johnson IV