Abigail Adams (1744 – 1818), letter to John Adams, 1774
He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas of any man I ever met.
Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865)
Words calculated to catch everyone may catch no one.
Words are the physicians of the mind diseased.
Aeschylus (525 BC – 456 BC), Prometheus Bound
Language is the source of misunderstandings.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900 – 1944)
Let thy speech be short, comprehending much in a few words.
High thoughts must have high language.
Aristophanes (450 BC – 388 BC), Frogs, 405 B.C.
Grasp the subject, the words will follow.
Cato the Elder (234 BC – 149 BC)
Use soft words and hard arguments.
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 spurting out ink.
George Orwell (1903 – 1950), “Politics and the English Language“, 1946
A man thinks that by mouthing hard words he understands hard things.
Herman Melville (1819 – 1891)
For me, words are a form of action, capable of influencing change.
When ideas fail, words come in very handy.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 – 1832)
Deeds, not words shall speak me.
John Fletcher (1579 – 1625)
Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assaults of thought on the unthinking.
John Maynard Keynes (1883 – 1946)
The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand.
Lewis Thomas (1913 – 1993)
Man invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain.
Lily Tomlin (1939 – )
We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language.
Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900), The Canterville Ghost, 1882
Words have a longer life than deeds.
Pindar (522 BC – 443 BC), Nemean Odes
Language exerts hidden power, like a moon on the tides.
Rita Mae Brown, Starting From Scratch, 1988
Drawing on my fine command of the English language, I said nothing.
Robert Benchley (1889 – 1945)
No one has a finer command of language than the person who keeps his mouth shut.
Sam Rayburn (1882 – 1961)
Do not accustom yourself to use big words for little matters.
Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784)
Works of imagination should be written in very plain language; the more purely imaginative they are the more necessary it is to be plain.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 – 1834)
Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words best of all.
Sir Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965)
Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.
William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)
Speak properly, and in as few words as you can, but always plainly; for the end of speech is not ostentation, but to be understood.
William Penn (1644 – 1718)
I understand a fury in your words, But not the words.
William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616), “Othello”, Act 4 scene 2
My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go.
William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616), “Hamlet”, Act 3 scene 3
They have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps.
- On the Importance of Plain Language (kylemackiemasters.wordpress.com)