English language

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Quotations about the English language or some aspect of it. English is one of the most widespread and most widely spoken languages in the world.

Sourced[edit]

  • To boldly go is rhythmically very neat. The Star Trek scriptwriter hasn't been linguistically bold at all.
  • The English-speaking world may be divided into (1) those who neither know nor care what a split infinitive is; (2) those who do not know, but care very much; (3) those who know and condemn; (4) those who know and approve; and (5) those who know and distinguish....
  • [A speaker who uses a multiple negative] spreads as it were a thin layer of negative colouring over the whole sentence instead of confining it to a single place.
  • The name is misleading, for the preposition to no more belongs to the infinitive as a necessary part of it, than the definite article belongs to the substantive, and no one would think of calling the good man a split substantive.
    • Otto Jespersen, referring to split infinitives, in Essentials of English Grammar
  • Fussing about split infinitives is one of the more tiresome pastimes invented by nineteenth-century grammarians.

British vs. American English[edit]

  • The gift of a common tongue is a priceless inheritance and it may well some day become the foundation of a common citizenship.
    • Winston Churchill, speech at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts (September 6, 1943); in Robert Rhodes James, ed., Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897–1963 (1974), vol. 7, p. 6825.
  • It is a misfortune for Anglo-American friendship that the two countries are supposed to have a common language. A Frenchman in America is not expected to talk like an American, but an Englishman speaking his mother tongue is thought to be affected and giving himself airs. Or else he is taken for a German or a Dutchman, and is complemented on his grammatical mastery of the language of another nation.
    • Bertrand Russell, "Can Americans and Britons Be Friends?", Saturday Evening Post, 3 June 1944
  • The United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language.
    • George Bernard Shaw, widely attributed beginning in the 1940s, e.g. Reader’s Digest (November 1942). Not found in his published works.
    • Variant: The English and the Americans are two peoples divided by a common language.
  • We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.

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