Quotes About Words And Their Meanings

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Quotes About Words And Their Meanings

Words, English words, are full of echoes, of memories, of associations. They have been out and about, on peoples lips, in their houses, in the streets, in the fields, for so many centuries. And that is one of the chief difficulties in writing them today that they are stored with other meanings, with other memories, and they have contracted so many famous marriages in the past.
— Virginia Woolf —

It is, of course, we who house poems as much as their words, and we ourselves must be the locus of poetry's depth of newness. Still, the permeability seems to travel both ways: a changed self will find new meanings in a good poem, but a good poem also changes the shape of the self. Having read it, we are not who we were the moment before ... Art lives in what it awakens in us ... Through a good poem's eyes we see the world liberated from what we would have it do. Existence does not guarantee us destination, nor trust, nor equity, nor one moment beyond this instant's almost weightless duration. It is a triteness to say that the only thing to be counted upon is that what you count on will not be what comes. Utilitarian truths evaporate: we die. Poems allow us not only to bear the tally and toll of our transience, but to perceive, within their continually surprising abundance, a path through the grief of that insult into joy.

— Jane Hirshfield

No critic and advocate of immutability has ever once managed properly or even marginally to outwit the English language's capacity for foxy and relentlessly slippery flexibility. For English is a language that simply cannot be fixed, not can its use ever be absolutely laid down. It changes constantly; it grows with an almost exponential joy. It evolves eternally; its words alter their senses and their meanings subtly, slowly, or speedily according to fashion and need.

— Simon Winchester

Rebecca was an academic star. Her new book was on the phenomenon of word casings, a term she'd invented for words that no longer had meaning outside quotation marks. English was full of these empty words
"friend" and "real" and "story" and "change"
words that had been shucked of their meanings and reduced to husks. Some, like "identity" and "search" and "cloud," had clearly been drained of life by their Web usage. With others, the reasons were more complex; how had "American" become an ironic term? How had "democracy" come to be used in an arch, mocking way?

— Jennifer Egan

Like prepositional phrases, certain structural arrangements in English are much more important than the small bones of grammar in its most technical sense. It really wouldn't matter much if we started dropping the s from our plurals. Lots of words get along without it anyway, and in most cases context would be enough to indicate number. Even the distinction between singular and plural verb forms is just as much a polite convention as an essential element of meaning. But the structures, things like passives and prepositional phrases, constitute, among other things, an implicit system of moral philosophy, a view of the world and its presumed meanings, and their misuse therefore often betrays an attitude or value that the user might like to disavow.

— Richard Mitchell

John Edgar Wideman Quotes: Kids use words in ways that release
Kids use words in ways that release hidden meanings, revel the history buried in sounds. They haven't forgotten that words can be more than signs, that words have magic, the power to be things, to point to themselves and materialize. With their back-formations, archaisms, their tendency to play the music in words
rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, repetition
children peel the skin from language. Words become incantatory. Open Sesame. Abracadabra. Perhaps a child will remember the word and will bring the walls tumbling down.

— John Edgar Wideman

That small word "Force," they make a barber's block,
Ready to put on
Meanings most strange and various, fit to shock
Pupils of Newton ...
The phrases of last century in this
Linger to play tricks
Vis viva and Vis Mortua and Vis Acceleratrix:
Those long-nebbed words that to our text books still
Cling by their titles,
And from them creep, as entozoa will,
Into our vitals.
But see! Tait writes in lucid symbols clear
One small equation;
And Force becomes of Energy a mere
Space-variation.

— James Clerk Maxwell

Maggie Nelson Quotes: Words change depending on who speaks
Words change depending on who speaks them; there is no cure. The answer isn't just to introduce new words (boi, cis-gendered, andro-fag) and then set out to reify their meanings (though obviously there is power and pragmatism here). One must also become alert to the multitude of possible uses, possible contexts, the wings with which each word can fly. Like when you whisper, You're just a hold, letting me fill you up. Like when I say husband.

— Maggie Nelson

He did not like the grown-ups who talked down to him, but the ones who went on talking in their usual way, leaving him to leap along in their wake, jumping at meanings, guessing, clutching at known words, and chuckling at complicated jokes as they suddenly dawned. He had the glee of the porpoise then, pouring and leaping through strange seas.

— T.H. White

Noise has one advantage. It drowns out words. And suddenly he realized that all his life he had done nothing but talk, write, lecture, concoct sentences, search for formulations and amend them, so in the end no words were precise, their meanings were obliterated, their content lost, they turned into trash, chaff dust, sand; prowling through his brain, tearing at his head. they were his insomnia, his illness. And what he yearned for at that moment, vaguely, but with all his might, was unbounded music, absolute sound, a pleasant and happy all-encompassing, over-poering, window-rattling din to engulf, once and for all, the pain, the futility, the vanity of words. Music was the negation of sentences, music was the anti-word!

— Milan Kundera

Lauren Oliver Quotes: I pull the book of shhh onto my lap and
I pull The Book of Shhh onto my lap and flip through the pages. Even though the psalms and prayers are still familiar, the words look strange and their meanings are indecipherable: It's like returning somewhere you haven't been since you were a child, and finding everything smaller and disappointing.

— Lauren Oliver

The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.

— Terry Pratchett

For Hood's sake,' the foreigner muttered. 'What's wrong with words?' 'With words,' said Redmask, turning away, 'meanings change.' 'Well,' Anaster Toc said, following as Redmask made his way back to his army's camp,.. 'that is precisely the point. That's their value - their ability to adapt -' 'Grow corrupt, you mean. The Letheri are masters at corrupting words, their meanings. They call war peace, they call tyranny liberty. On which side of the shadow you stand decides a word's meaning. Words are the weapons used by those who see others with contempt. A contempt which only deepens when they how those others are deceived and made into fools because they choose to believe. Because in their naivety they thought the meaning of a word was fixed, immune to abuse.

— Steven Erikson

:Paintings are easy to see," he said after a moment. "Open, presented flat to the eye. Words are not easy. Words have to be discovered, deep in their pages, deciphered, translated, read. Words are symbols to be encoded, their letters trees in a forest, enmeshed, their tangled meanings never finally picked apart.

— Catherine Fisher

He should have known better because, early in his learnings under his brother Mahmoud, he had discovered that long human words (the longer the better) were easy, unmistakable, and rarely changed their meanings . . . but short words were slippery, unpredictable, changing their meanings without any pattern. Or so he seemed to grok. Short human words were never like a short Martian word-such as "grok" which forever meant exactly the same thing. Short human words were like trying to lift water with a knife.

— Robert A. Heinlein

John Crowe Ransom Quotes: Now between the meanings of words and
Now between the meanings of words and their sounds there is ordinarily no discoverable relation except one of accident; and it is therefore miraculous, to the mystic, when words which make sense can also make a uniform objective structure of accents and rhymes.

— John Crowe Ransom

Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes: Occasionally in life there are those
Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

Words do not change their meanings so drastically in the course of centuries as, in our minds, names do in the course of a year or two.

— Marcel Proust

To fit in with the change of events, words, too, had to change their usual meanings. What used to be described as a thoughtless act of aggression was now regarded as the courage one would expect to find in a party member; to think of the future and wait was merely another way of saying one was a coward; any idea of moderation was just an attempt to disguise one's unmanly character; ability to understand a question from all sides meant that one was totally unfitted for action. Fanatical enthusiasm was the mark of a real man, and to plot against an enemy behind his back was perfectly legitimate self-defence. Anyone who held violent opinions could always be trusted, and anyone who objected to them became a suspect.

— Thucydides

Ed Markey Quotes: The constitution is a 200 year old
The Constitution is a 200-year-old parchment, simply because we digitize the words should not suggest their meanings change.

— Ed Markey

It's really funny, because if you make up words, then people project their own meanings onto it, which I find interesting.

— Aphex Twin

Words created divergencies between beings, because their precise meanings put an opinion around the idea. Music only retains the highest and purest substance of the idea, since it has the privilege of expressing all, whilst excluding nothing.

— Nadia Boulanger

The primary function of the creative use of language - in our age - is to try to constantly restore words to their meanings, to keep the living tissue of responsibility alive.

— Jorie Graham

If words are to change their meanings, as assuredly they are, let each user of language make such changes as please himself, put up his own suggestions, and let the best win.

— Rose Macaulay

What enriches language is its being handled and exploited by beautiful minds-not so much by making innovations as by expanding it through more vigorous and varied applications, by extending it and deploying it. It is not words that they contribute: what they do is enrich their words, deepen their meanings and tie down their usage; they teach it unaccustomed rhythms, prudently though and with ingenuity.

— Michel De Montaigne

Words change their meanings, just as organisms evolve. We would impose an enormous burden on our economy if we insisted on payment in cattle every time we identified a bonus as a pecuniary advantage (from the Latin pecus , or cattle, a verbal fossil from a former commercial reality).

— Stephen Jay Gould

Space and force pervade language. Many cognitive scientists (including me) have concluded from their research on language that a handful of concepts about places, paths, motions, agency, and causation underlie the literal or figurative meanings of tens of thousands of words and constructions, not only in English but in every other language that has been studied.

— Steven Pinker

My child, you have a flawed grasp of the nature of myth-making. I am a poet and storyteller, a creator of ballads and sagas. Pray do not confuse the exercise of the imagination with mere mendacity. I am a master of the mysteries of words, their meanings and music and mellifluous magic.

— Frances Hardinge

Bertrand Russell Quotes: The doctrine of maintaining that the
The doctrine (of) maintaining that the language of daily life, with words used in their ordinary meanings, suffices for philosophy ... I find myself totally unable to accept ... Because it makes almost inevitable the perpetuation amongst philosophers of the muddle-headedness they have taken over from common sense.

— Bertrand Russell

Meanings receive their dignity from words instead of giving it to them.

— Blaise Pascal

I was sick of the way my lyrics had been extrapolated, their meanings subverted into polemics and that I had been anointed as the Big Bubba of Rebellion, High Priest of Protest, the Duke of Disobedience, Leader of the Freeloaders, Kaiser of Apostasy, Archbishop of Anarchy, the Big Cheese. Horrible titles any way you want to look at it. All code words for Outlaw.

— Bob Dylan

You and I must realize that the English language is filled with words that, in addition to their literal meanings, convey distinct emotional intensity. For example, if you develop a habit of saying you 'hate' things - you 'hate' your hair; you 'hate' your job; you 'hate' having to do something - do you think this raises the intensity of your negative emotional states more than if you use a phrase like 'I prefer something else'?

— Tony Robbins

Virginia Woolf Quotes: Words english words are full of echoes
Words, English words, are full of echoes, of memories, of associations. They have been out and about, on people's lips, in their houses, in the streets, in the fields, for so many centuries. And that is one of the chief difficulties in writing them today
that they are stored with other meanings, with other memories, and they have contracted so many famous marriages in the past.

— Virginia Woolf

The law is the survival of the fittest ... The law is not the survival of the 'better' or the 'stronger,' if we give to those words any thing like their ordinary meanings. It is the survival of those which are constitutionally fittest to thrive under the conditions in which they are placed; and very often that which, humanly speaking, is inferiority, causes the survival.

— Herbert Spencer

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