Thursday, March 22, 2012

Beg, Borrow & Steal

We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary. - Booker T. Washington

Viewed freely, the English language is the accretion and growth of every dialect, race, and range of time, and is both the free and compacted composition of all.
- Walt Whitman

Writing in English is the most ingenious torture ever devised for sins committed in previous lives. The English reading public explains
the reason why. - James Joyce

English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgment and education - sometimes it's sheer luck, like getting across the street. - E. B. White

If you're reading this, chances are pretty good that you speak (or at least read) English, a complicated, convoluted, wildly expressive language. The following short video, The History of the English Language, is a clever illustration of how it got that way.

More fun quotes about our beloved English language:

“If the English language made any sense, lackadaisical would have something to do with a shortage of flowers.”- Doug Larson

“If the English language made any sense, a catastrophe would be an apostrophe with fur.”- Doug Larson

“Lymph, v.: to walk with a lisp.” - A Washington Post reader

“I like the word ‘indolence.’ It makes my laziness seem classy.” - Bern Williams

“The quantity of consonants in the English language is constant. If omitted in one place, they turn up in another. When a Bostonian ‘pahks’ his ‘cah,’ the lost ‘r’s migrate southwest, causing a Texan to ‘warsh’ his car and invest in ‘erl wells.’” - Author Unknown

“‘I am’ is reportedly the shortest sentence in the English language. Could it be that ‘I do’ is the longest sentence?” - George Carlin

“In my sentences I go where no man has gone before… I am a boon to the English language.” - George W. Bush

“Introducing ‘Lite’ – The new way to spell ‘Light’, but with twenty percent fewer letters.” - Jerry Seinfeld

“England and America are two countries separated by a common language.” - George Bernard Shaw

“Drawing on my fine command of the English language, I said nothing.” - Robert Benchley

“When I read some of the rules for speaking and writing the English language correctly, I think any fool can make a rule, and every fool will mind it.” - Henry David Thoreau

“I speak two languages: Body and English.” - Mae West


  1. Love that Joyce quote! I'm still only halfway through the video...

  2. Another favourite: "The English language is nobody’s special property. It is the property of the imagination: it is the property of the language itself." — Derek Walcott