In the final chapter of The Miracle of Language Richard Lederer shares thirty-six pages of quotes on Words. From that extensive list I have picked a few to share with you here.
By words the mind is excited and the spirit elated.
A man’s command of the language is most important. Next to kissing, it’s the most exciting form of communication mankind has evolved.
~ Oren Arnold
Men believe that a society is disintegrating when it can no longer be pictured in familiar terms. Unhappy is a people that has run out of words to describe what is going on.
~ Thurman Arnold
A word after a word after a word is power.
~ Margaret Atwood
I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible.
~ Jane Austen
“Plain English”–everybody loves it, demands it–from the other fellow.
~ Jacques Barzun
Words are as vital to life as food and drink and sex, but on the whole we don’t show as much interest in language as we do in the other–more obvious–pleasures.
~ Gyles Brandreth
Words are as recalcitrant as circus animals, and the unskilled trainer can crack his whip at them in vain.
Standard English is a convenient abstraction, like the average man.
~ G. L. Brook
Words are like planets, each with its own gravitational pull.
~ Kenneth Burke
Be not a slave of words.
~ Thomas Carlyle
The manner of your speaking is full as important as the matter, as more people have ears to be tickled than understanding to judge.
~ Lord Chesterfield
The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.
~ Thomas Jefferson
Thanks to words, we have been able to rise above the brutes; and thanks to words, we have often sunk to the level of demons.
~ Aldous Huxley
We see words that blow like leaves in the winds of autumn–golden words, bronze words, words that catch the light like opals. We learn that words have an independent life of their own, grown out of echoes and connotations and associations. We see that words are tactile; we find rough words, smooth words, words with splintered edges, words to shout or whisper with, words that caress, words that strike.
~ James J. Kilpatrick
Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.
~ Rudyard Kipling.
True eloquence consists of saying all that should be, not all that could be, said.
~ La Rochefoucauld
True wit is Nature to advantage dressed,
What oft was thought, but ne’er so well expressed.
~ Alexander Pope
The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.
~ Chinese Proverb
One should not aim at being possible to understand, but at being impossible to misunderstand.
Time had no special significance for a certain juvenile and incorrigible fisher of words who thought nothing of fishing for two weeks to catch a stanza, or even a line, that he would not throw back into a squirming sea of language where there was every word but the one he wanted. There were strange and iridescent and impossible words that would seize the bait and swallow the hook and all but drag the excited angler in after them, but lie that famous catch of Hiawatha’s, they were generally not the fish he wanted. he wanted fish that were smooth and shining and subtle, and very much alive, and not too strange, and presently, after long patience and many rejections, they began to bite.
~ Edwin Arlington Robinson
If . . . you are willing to think about how we communicate, and consider the words and the forms of grammar, then you are automatically a member of the Authority, entitled to a ring and a secret handshake and the thrill of membership. A word of warning: If you get hooked on the study of the language, you are in that sorority, or fraternity, for life.
~ William Safire
Every utterance is an event, and no two events are precisely alike. The extreme view, therefore, is that no word ever means the same thing twice.
~ Louis B. Saloman
Most people have to talk so they won’t hear.
~ May Sarton
Syllables govern the world.
~ John Selden
My words fly up, my thoughts remain below:
Words without thoughts never to heaven go.
~ William Shakespeare
Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech; that your native tongue is the language of Shakespeare and Milton and the Bible; and don’t sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon.
~ George Bernard Shaw
Words too are known by the company they keep.
~ Joseph Shipley
When it comes to learning good English, most people are prone to be supine.
~ John Simon
It is with words as with sunbeams. The more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.
~ Robert Southey
Man does not live by words alone, despite the fact that sometimes he has to eat them.
~ Adlai Stevenson
A word to the wise is sufficient.
One always refers to language as a tool; but after playing around with more years that there legitimately are, i tell you that it is also, in a vulgar phrase, something else. More precious than pearls at any price, it is a marvelous toy, a plaything of the mind.
~ Joe D. Thomas
English is a language of marvelous qualities. I like to see it properly used just a one likes to see a shirt properly washed and a dinner table properly set.
~ Barbara Tuchman
A new word is like a wild animal you have caught. You must learn its ways and break it before you can use it.
~ H. G. Wells