Quotations about   English

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We open our mouths and out flow words whose ancestries we do not even know. We are walking lexicons. In a single sentence of idle chatter we preserve Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Norse: we carry a museum inside our heads, each day we commemorate peoples of whom we have never heard.

Penelope Lively (b. 1933) British writer
Moon Tiger (1987)
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Added on 2-Oct-18 | Last updated 2-Oct-18
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A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.

George Orwell (1903-1950) English writer [pseud. of Eric Arthur Blair]
“Politics and the English Language,” Horizon (Apr 1946)
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Added on 15-Apr-17 | Last updated 15-Apr-17
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Everything is possible for an eccentric, especially when he is English.

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
A Floating City, ch. 8 (1871)
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Added on 2-Sep-16 | Last updated 2-Sep-16
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England and America are two countries separated by a common language.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
(Attributed)

Not found in Shaw's writing. See here for further discussion. See also Wilde.
Added on 12-Apr-16 | Last updated 12-Apr-16
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Indeed, in many respects, she was quite English, and was an excellent example of the fact that we have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
The Canterville Ghost (1887)

See Shaw.
Added on 6-Apr-16 | Last updated 12-Apr-16
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The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle their pockets for new vocabulary.

James Nicoll (b. 1961) Canadian reviewer, editor
“The King’s English,” rec.arts.sf-lovers (15 May 1990)
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Nicoll later corrected the final verb to "rifle."
Added on 13-Jan-16 | Last updated 13-Jan-16
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For a terrifying moment I thought he was going to hug me, but fortunately we both remembered we were English just in time. Still, it was a close call.

Ben Aaronovitch (b. 1964) British author
Moon Over Soho (2011)
Added on 2-Dec-15 | Last updated 2-Dec-15
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