Quotations about:
    talking


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The tongue is a wild beast; once let loose it is difficult to chain.

[Es fiera la lengua, que si una vez se suelta, es muy dificultosa de poderse volver a encadenar.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 222 (1647) [tr. Jacobs (1892)]
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(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translations:

The tongue is a beast, which once at large, is hard to recapture and to chain.
[tr. Fischer (1937)]

The tongue is a wild animal, and once it breaks loose, it is hard to return to its cage.
[tr. Maurer (1992)]

 
Added on 3-Oct-22 | Last updated 3-Oct-22
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Not to talk with people although they can be talked with is to waste people. To talk with people although they can’t be talked with is to waste words. A man of understanding does not waste people, but he also does not waste words.

[子曰、可與言、而不與之言、失人、不可與言、而與之言、失言、知者不失人、亦不失言。]

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [論語, 论语, Lúnyǔ], Book 15, verse 8 (15.8) (6th C. BC – 3rd C. AD) [tr. Dawson (1993)]
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(Source (Chinese)). Older translations use Legge's original verse divisions and numbering (15.7).

The passage contains a native pun, combining both noun and verb senses of yén [言] (talk), which is difficult to translate into English (leading to blends of "speak" and "talk" and "words"). Alternate translations:

When a man may be spoken with, not to speak to him is to err in reference to the man. When a man may not be spoken with, to speak to him is to err in reference to our words. The wise err neither in regard to their man nor to their words.
[tr. Legge (1861), 15.7]

Not to speak to a man to whom you ought to speak, is to lose your man; to speak to one to whom you ought not to speak is to lose your words. those who are wise will not lose their man, nor yet their words.
[tr. Jennings (1895), 15.7]

When you meet the proper person to speak to and do not speak out, you lose your opportunity; but when you meet one who is not a proper person to speak to and you speak to him, you waste your words. A man of intelligence never loses his opportunity, neither does he waste his words.
[tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898), 15.7]

Not to enlighten one who can be enlightened is to waste a man; to enlighten one who cannot be enlightened is to waste words. The intelligent man neither wastes his man nor his words.
[tr. Soothill (1910), 15.7]

When you should talk to a man, and don’t, you lose the man; when it’s no use talking to a man, and you talk to him, you waste words. An intelligent man wastes (loses) neither men nor words.
[tr. Pound (1933), 15.7]

Not to talk to one who could be talked to, is to waste a man. To talk to those who cannot be talked to, is to waste one's words. He who is truly wise never wastes a man; but on the other hand, he never wastes his words.
[tr. Waley (1938), 15.7]

When you find a person worthy to talk to and fail to talk to him, you have lost your man. When you find a man unworthy to talk to and you talk to him, you have lost (i.e., wasted) your words. A wise man neither loses his man, nor loses his words.
[tr. Lin Yutang (1938)]

To fail to speak to a man who is capable of benefiting is to let a man go to waste. To speak to a man who is incapable of benefiting is to let one's words go to waste. A wise man lets neither men nor words go to waste.
[tr. Lau (1979), 15.8]

When dealing with a man who is capable of understanding your teaching, if you do not teach him, you waste the man. When dealing with a man who is incapable of understanding your teaching, if you do teach him, you waste your teaching. A wise teacher wastes no man and wastes no teaching.
[tr. Leys (1997), 15.8]

When you should talk with one, you do not talk with one, it means to lose the people. When you should not talk with one, you talk with one, it means to lose the word. A wise person does not lose the people, and does not lose the word too.
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998), 15.8 / #392]

To fail to speak to someone who can be engaged is to let that person go to waste; to speak to someone who cannot be engaged is to waste your words. The wise [zhi] do not let people go to waste, but they do not waste their words, either.
[tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998), 15.8]

If he can be talked to and you do not talk to him, you waste the man. If he cannot be talked to and you talk to him, you waste your talk. The knowledgeable will not waste a man, but will also not waste his talk.
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998), 15.8]

When a person is capable of understanding your words, and you refuse to speak, you're wasting a person. When a person isn't capable of understanding your words, and you speak anyway, you're wasting words. The wise waste neither words nor people.
[tr. Hinton (1998), 15.8]

If it's someone you ought to speak to and you fail to speak, you waste a person. If it's someone you ought not to speak to and you speak, you waste words. The wise man doesn't waste people and doesn't waste words, either.
[tr. Watson (2007), 15.8]

Not to speak to a man who is capable of absorbing what you say is to let the man go to waste. To speak to a man who is incapable of absorbing what you say is to let your words go to waste. A person of wisdom does not let either men or words go to waste.
[tr. Annping Chin (2014), 15.8]

When it is appropriate and feasible to speak [and give advice] to a person, but you refrain from doing so, you will lose a friend. When it is inappropriate or infeasible to speak to a person, but you speak anyhow, you misspeak.
[tr. Li (2020), 15.8]

 
Added on 5-Jul-22 | Last updated 5-Jul-22
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A sick man that gets talking about himself, a woman that gets talking about her baby, and an author that begins reading out of his own book, never know when to stop.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894) American poet, essayist, scholar
The Poet at the Breakfast-Table, ch. 11 (1872)
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Added on 15-Dec-21 | Last updated 15-Dec-21
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It must be remembered also that he who can talk with himself has no need of another’s conversation.

[Etinim, qui secum loqui poterit, sermonem alterius non requiret.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Tusculan Disputations [Tusculanae Disputationes], Book 5, ch. 40 (5.40) / sec. 117 (45 BC) [tr. Peabody (1886)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

For he that can speak with himself; will not much need the Discourse of another.
[tr. Wase (1643)]

Whoever can converse with himself doth not need the conversation of another.
[tr. Main (1824)]

For the man who can speak with himself, does not require the discourse of another.
[tr. Otis (1839)]

Whoever can converse with himself doth not need the conversation of another.
[tr. Yonge (1853)]

One who can converse with himself will not miss the conversation of someone else.
[tr. Douglas (1990)]

He who can talk to himself, will have no need of another’s conversation.
[tr. @sentantiq (2012)]

A man who is able to hold conversation with himself will not need another with whom to converse.
[tr. Davie (2017)]

 
Added on 11-Nov-21 | Last updated 11-Aug-22
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Good conversation can leave you more exhilarated than alcohol; more refreshed than the theater or a concert. It can bring you entertainment and pleasure; it can help you get ahead, solve problems, spark the imagination of others. It can increase your knowledge and education. It can erase misunderstandings, and bring you closer to those you love.

Dorothy Sarnoff
Dorothy Sarnoff (1914-2008) American opera singer, actress, image consultant
Speech Can Change Your Life (1971)
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Added on 8-Jul-21 | Last updated 8-Jul-21
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There is a time for long tales, but there is also a time for sleep.

[Ὥρη μὲν πολέων μύθων, ὥρη δὲ καὶ ὕπνου.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 11, l. 379 (11.379) [Odysseus] (c. 700 BC) [tr. Rieu (1946)]
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On being asked by King Alcinoüs to continue his tale of journeying to the Land of the Dead. Original Greek. Alternate translations:

  • '“Most eminent king,” said he, “times all must keep, / There’s time to speak much, time as much to sleep.' [tr. Chapman (1616)]
  • "There is a time for talk, a time for rest." [tr. Hobbes (1675), l. 362]
  • "Since yet the early hour of night allows / Time for discourse, and time for soft repose." [tr. Pope (1725)]
  • "The time suffices yet / For converse both and sleep." [tr. Cowper (1792), l. 460-61]
  • "Night is the time for converse, night for rest." [tr. Worsley (1861), st. 54]
  • "A time there is for speech / Howe'er prolong'd: a time, too, for repose." [tr. Musgrave (1869), l. 585]
  • "A time there is for tales -- and a time for sleep!" [tr. Bigge-Wither (1869), l. 378]
  • "There is a time for many words and there is a time for sleep." [tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]
  • "Time is for words abundant, and time for sleep maybe." [tr. Morris (1887)]
  • "There is a time for stories and a time for sleep." [tr. Palmer (1891)]
  • "There is a time for making speeches, and a time for going to bed." [tr. Butler (1898)]
  • "There is a time for many words and there is a time also for sleep." [tr. Murray (1919)]
  • "Surely there is a time for long speaking and a time for sleep." [tr. Lawrence (1932)]
  • "There is a time for story telling; there is also a time for sleep." [tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]
  • "There is a time for many words, and a time for sleeping." [tr. Lattimore (1965)]
  • "It's true that there's still time for tales and talk, / yet there is, too, a time for sleep." [tr. Mandelbaum (1990)]
  • "There is a time for many words, a time for sleep as well." [tr. Fagles (1996)]
  • "There is a time for words and a time for sleep." [tr. Lombardo (2000), l. 389]
  • "There is a time for long tales, but there is also a time for sleep." [tr. DCH Rieu (2002)]
  • "There is a time for long tales, and there is a time for sleep." [tr. Verity (2016)]
  • "It is a time for many tales, but also a time for sleep." [tr. Wilson (2017)]
  • "There's a time for long stories, and a time for sleep." [tr. Green (2018)]
  • "There’s a time / for many stories and a time for sleep." [tr. Johnston (2019), l. 477-78]
 
Added on 26-May-21 | Last updated 9-Dec-21
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Now, that man is more of a political animal than bees or any other gregarious animals is evident. Nature, as we often say, makes nothing in vain, and man is the only animal whom she has endowed with the gift of speech.

[διότι δὲ πολιτικὸν ὁ ἄνθρωπος ζῷον πάσης μελίττης καὶ παντὸς ἀγελαίου ζῴου μᾶλλον, δῆλον. οὐθὲν γάρ, ὡς φαμέν, μάτην ἡ φύσις ποιεῖ·]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Politics [Πολιτικά], Book 1, ch. 2, sec. 10 / 1253a.7-11 [tr. Jowett (1885)]
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Original Greek. Alternate translations:

  • "And that man is a social animal in a fuller sense than any bee or gregarious animal is evident; for nature, we say, makes nothing without an object, and man is the only animal that possesses rational speech." [tr. Bolland (1877)]
  • "The gift of speech also evidently proves that man is a more social animal than the bees, or any of the herding cattle: for nature, as we say, does nothing in vain, and man is the only animal who enjoys it." [tr. Ellis (1912)]
  • "And why man is a political animal in a greater measure than any bee or any gregarious animal is clear. For nature, as we declare, does nothing without purpose; and man alone of the animals possesses speech." [tr. Rackham (1932)]
  • "That man is much more a political animal than any kind of bee or any herd animal is clear. For, as we assert, nature does nothing in vain; and man alone among the animals has speech." [tr. Lord (1984)]
  • "It is also clear why a human is more of a political animal than any bee or any other gregarious animal. For nature does nothing pointlessly, as we say, and a human being alone among the animals has speech." [tr. Reeve (2007)]
  • "It is clear that man is a political animal, more than every bee and herd animal: for nature makes nothing in vain and man alone of living things has reason." [tr. @sentantiq (2011)]
 
Added on 12-Feb-21 | Last updated 12-Feb-21
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Ultimately, the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or friendship, is conversation.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
“Epistola: In Carcere et Vinculis,” Letter to Alfred Douglas (Mar 1897)
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Wilde titled the letter, written while in prison in Reading, England, Epistola: In Carcere et Vinculis ("Letter: In Prison and in Chains"). Upon release, the letter was entrusted to Robert Ross, who in 1905, after Wilde's death, published an edited version under the title De Profundis ("From the Depths," from Psalm 130), and later editions have retained that name. This quotation was not in the 1905 edition, but in the eventually fully-restored version in Wilde's complete letters. More information on the history of the letter here.
 
Added on 1-Jan-19 | Last updated 25-Feb-22
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Man is a talking animal and he will always let himself be swayed by the power of the word.

Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) French author, existentialist philosopher, feminist theorist
Les Belles Images (1966)
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Added on 12-Feb-18 | Last updated 12-Feb-18
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Talk doesn’t cook rice.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Chinese proverb


Also attributed to the Japanese.
 
Added on 3-May-17 | Last updated 3-May-17
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The noisiest streams are the shallowest.

(Other Authors and Sources)
English proverb
 
Added on 19-Apr-17 | Last updated 19-Apr-17
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We seldom regret talking too little, but very often talking too much. This is a well-known maxim which everybody knows and nobody practices.

Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
“Of Mankind,” #149, The Characters [Les Caractères] (1688) [tr. van Laun (1929)]
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Added on 22-Feb-17 | Last updated 22-Feb-17
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A sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use.

Washington Irving (1783-1859) American author [pseud. for Geoffrey Crayon]
“Rip Van Winkle,” The Sketch Book (1820)
 
Added on 15-Feb-17 | Last updated 15-Feb-17
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Abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery, of party, faction, and division of society.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Letter to J. H. Tiffany (31 Mar 1819)
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Talking is one of the fine arts — the noblest, the most important, the most difficult — and its fluent harmonies may be spoiled by the intrusion of a single harsh note.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894) American poet, essayist, scholar
The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table (1858)
 
Added on 13-Feb-17 | Last updated 13-Feb-17
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The tongue is not steel, yet it cuts.

George Herbert (1593-1633) Welsh priest, orator, poet.
Jacula Prudentum (1651)
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Added on 8-Feb-17 | Last updated 8-Feb-17
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Every man hears only what he understands.

goethe-every-man-hears-understands-wist_info-quote

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
The Maxims and Reflections of Goethe, #385 [tr. Saunders (1892)]
 
Added on 25-Jan-17 | Last updated 25-Jan-17
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A soft Tongue may strike hard.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Oct 1744)
 
Added on 18-Jan-17 | Last updated 18-Jan-17
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Far more numerous was the herd of such,
Who think too little, and who talk too much.

John Dryden (1631-1700) English poet, dramatist, critic
Absalom and Achitophel, l. 533 (1681)
 
Added on 28-Dec-16 | Last updated 28-Dec-16
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There was much conversation, most of which sounded like the rest of it.

Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) American novelist, playwright
Arrowsmith, ch. 14 (1925)
 
Added on 3-Nov-15 | Last updated 3-Nov-15
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God gave us teeth to hold back our tongue.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Greek proverb
 
Added on 13-Nov-14 | Last updated 13-Nov-14
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Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Proverbs 17:28
 
Added on 30-Oct-14 | Last updated 30-Oct-14
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