Quotations about   vocabulary

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A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?

But you are not obliged to go to all this trouble. You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in. The will construct your sentences for you — even think your thoughts for you, to a certain extent — and at need they will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself.

It is at this point that the special connection between politics and the debasement of language becomes clear.

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 25-Apr-17 | Last updated 25-Apr-17
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I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me.

A. A. Milne (1882-1956) English poet and playwright [Alan Alexander Milne]
Winnie-the-Pooh, ch. 4 (1926)
Added on 17-Feb-16 | Last updated 17-Feb-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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Do keep a thesaurus, but in the shed at the back of the garden or behind the fridge, somewhere that demands travel or effort. Chances are the words that come into your head will do fine, e.g., “horse”, “ran”, “said”.

Roddy Doyle (b. 1958) Irish novelist, dramatist, screenwriter
In “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction,” The Guardian (20 Feb 2010)
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Added on 29-May-14 | Last updated 29-May-14
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“Work, the what’s-its-name of the thingummy and the thing-um-a-bob of the what-d’you-call-it.”

P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975) Anglo-American humorist, playwright and lyricist [Pelham Grenville Wodehouse]
Psmith, Journalist (1915)
Added on 11-May-09 | Last updated 5-Sep-19
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