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Conversation is a game of circles.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1841

The word conversation is the verbalization of concepts involving abstractions and concrete objects which make up the world we live in. Also, a conversation is communication by two or more people, or by ones self. It can be very involved or just simple small talk.


Ancient history[edit]

  • In conversation avoid the extremes of forwardness and reserve.
    • Cato (234 BC - 149 BC). Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 137.
  • Discourse, the sweeter banquet of the mind.
    • Homer, The Odyssey, Book 15, line 433. Pope's translation. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 137.
  • Rarus sermo illis et magna libido tacendi.
    • Their conversation was brief, and their desire was to be silent.
    • Juvenal, Satires, II. 14.
  • We took sweet counsel together.
    • Psalms. LV. 14. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 137.
  • Talis hominibus est oratio qualis vita.
  • Sermo animi est imago; qualis vir, talis et oratio est.
    • Conversation is the image of the mind; as the man, so is his speech.
    • Syrus, Maxims.
  • Ita fabulantur ut qui sciant Dominum audire.
    • They converse as those who know that God hears.
    • Tertullian (Ca. 150-220) , Apologeticus, p. 36. (Ed. Rigalt). Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 137.

17th century[edit]

  • There is, however, nothing wanting to the idleness of a philosopher but a better name, and that meditation, conversation, and reading should be called “work.”
  • A young man before he leaves the shelter of his father's house, and the guard of a tutor, should be fortify'd with resolution, and made acquainted with men, to secure his virtues, lest he should be led into some ruinous course, or fatal precipice, before he is sufficiently acquainted with the dangers of conversation, and his steadiness enough not to yield to every temptation.
  • With thee conversing I forget all time:
    All seasons and their change, all please alike.

18th century[edit]

  • Method is not less requisite in ordinary conversation than in writing, provided a man would talk to make himself understood.
    • Joseph Addison (1672–1719), The Spectator, No. 476. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 137.
  • With good and gentle-humored hearts
    I choose to chat where'er I come
    Whate'er the subject be that starts.
    But if I get among the glum
    I hold my tongue to tell the truth
    And keep my Breath to cool my broth.
    • John Byrom (1692–1763) , Careless Content. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 137.
  • But conversation, choose what theme we may,
    And chiefly when religion leads the way,
    Should flow, like waters after summer show'rs,
    Not as if raised by mere mechanic powers.
  • I never, with important air,
    In conversation overbear.
    * * * *
    My tongue within my lips I rein;
    For who talks much must talk in vain.
    • John Gay, Fables (1727), Part I. Introduction, line 53.
  • With thee conversing I forget the way.
    • John Gay (1685–1732), Trivia, Book II, line 480. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 137.
  • They would talk of nothing but high life and high-lived company, with other fashionable topics, such as pictures, taste, Shakespeare, and the musical glasses.
  • His conversation does not show the minute hand; but he strikes the hour very correctly.
    • Samuel Johnson (1709-84), Johnsoniana, Kearsley, line 604. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 137.
  • Tom Birch is as brisk as a bee in conversation; but no sooner does he take a pen in his hand, than it becomes a torpedo to him, and benumbs all his faculties.
  • That silence is one of the great arts of conversation is allowed by Cicero himself, who says, there is not only an art, but even an eloquence in it.
    • Hannah More (1745–1833) , Essays on Various Subjects, Thoughts on Conversation.
  • Form'd by thy converse, happily to steer
    From grave to gay, from lively to severe.
  • And surely one of the best rules in conversation is, never to say a thing which any of the company can reasonably wish had been left unsaid…
  • A dearth of words a woman need not fear;
    But 'tis a task indeed to learn to hear:
    In that the skill of conversation lies;
    That shows or makes you both polite and wise.

19th century[edit]

  • Conversation is the laboratory and workshop of the student.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82), Society and Solitude, Clubs. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 137.
  • And when you stick on conversation's burs,
    Don't strew your pathway with those dreadful urs.
    • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809–94), A Rhymed Lesson, Urania. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 137.
  • What are the great faults of coversation? Want of ideas, want of words, want of manners, are the principal ones, I suppose you think. I don't doubt it, but I will tell you what I have found spoil more good talks than anything else;- long arguments on special points between people who differ on the fundamental principles upon which these points depend. No men can have satisfactory relations with each other until they have agreed on certain ultimata [finalities] of belief not to be disturbed in ordinary conversation, and unless they have sense enough to trace the secondary questions depending upon these ultimate beliefs to their source. In short, just as a written constitution is essential to the best social order, so a code of finalities is a necessary condition of talk between two persons.
  • Men of great conversational powers almost universally practise a sort of lively sophistry and exaggeration which deceives for the moment both themselves and their auditors.
  • Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
    • O. Henry (1862–1910), The Complete Life of John Hopkins. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 137.
  • A single conversation across the table with a wise man is better than ten years' study of books.

20th century[edit]

  • Sinclair: (incredulous) You think about this stuff a lot?
    Garibaldi: Yeah. Look, okay, I'm sorry I asked. You're always so serious all the time. Not every conversation has to be the end of the world as we know it.
  • Communication can only take place among equals.
    • Kenneth Boulding (1974). Collected Papers: Toward a general social science. L.D. Singell ed. p. 240.
  • The Great Conversation began before the beginnings of experimental science. But the birth of the Conversation and the birth of science were simultaneous. The earliest of the pre-Socratics were investigating and seeking to understand natural phenomena; among them were men who used mathematical notions for this purpose. Even experimentation is not new; it has been going on for hundreds of years. But faith in experimentation as an exclusive method is a modern manifestation. is now regarded in some quarters... as the sole method of obtaining knowledge of any kind.
  • Rimmer: So now we don’t have that conversation and move straight onto the next conversation?
    Pree: Your next conversation is a conversation about not having the previous conversation, saying you were looking forward to the previous conversation, and now feel a bit lost not having had that conversation. You conclude that you will probably get used to hearing the results of your conversations and no longer having the conversations yourselves.
  • Do you know that conversation is one of the greatest pleasures in life? But it wants leisure.
  • British conversation is like a game of cricket or a boxing match; personal allusions are forbidden like hitting below the belt, and anyone who loses his temper is disqualified.
  • Each word is a singularity, or is connected with a singularity, in our way of understanding existence.
    • Léon Rosenfeld (1904–74) As quoted in A Question of Physics: Conversations in Physics and Biology (1979), Paul Buckley and F. David Peat, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, p. 29.
  • There is no such thing as conversation. It is an illusion. There are intersecting monologues, that is all.
  • A philosopher who is not taking part in discussions is like a boxer who never goes into the ring.
  • Conversation is imperative if gaps are to be filled, and old age, it is the last gap but one.

21st century[edit]

  • "I don’t really care that much about if I want to be more successful or less successful in art, because I never think life and art should be separate. What’s life if you don’t have conversation and joy and anger?"
    • Ai Weiwei "Every day I think, this will be the day I get taken in again..." in: Guardian, November 25, 2011.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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