+ 357 There is a slam-dunk case for extending foreign language teaching to children aged five. Just as some people have taken a perverse pride in not understanding mathematics, so we have taken a perverse pride in the fact that we do not speak foreign languages, and we just need to speak louder in English. Michael Gove
+ 333 If you could extend the elective franchise to all persons of color who can read the Constitution of the United States in English and write their names and to all persons of color who own real estate valued at not less than two hundred and fifty dollars and pay taxes thereon, and would completely disarm the adversary. This you can do with perfect safety. And as a consequence, the radicals, who are wild upon negro franchise, will be completely foiled in their attempts to keep the Southern States from renewing their relations to the Union. Andrew Johnson
+ 327 When I was a child I used to read books by Gerald Durrell, who founded Jersey Zoo. He had a job collecting animals for zoos and for a long time that is what I wanted to do. Later when I was a teenager I had a fantastic English teacher called Mrs. Stafford. Her enthusiasm made me decide to be a writer. Melvin Burgess
+ 369 I think the biggest difficulty is that when I'm here in America, there's a necessity of using English, so I really have a great sense of really wanting to learn, but unfortunately when I head back to Japan, the necessity vanishes and so does my enthusiasm about learning. Chiaki Kuriyama
+ 296 By an application of the theory of relativity to the taste of readers, today in Germany I am called a German man of science, and in England I am represented as a Swiss Jew. If I come to be represented as a bete noire, the descriptions will be reversed, and I shall become a Swiss Jew for the Germans and a German man of science for the English. Albert Einstein
+ 822 When I arrived in England I thought I knew English. After I'd been here
an hour I realized that I did not understand one word. In the first week I
picked up a tolerable working knowledge of the language and the next seven
years convinced me gradually but thoroughly that I would never know it
really well, let alone perfectly. This is sad. My only consolation being
that nobody speaks English perfectly.
Remember that those five hundred words an average Englishman uses are
far from being the whole vocabulary of the language. You may learn another
five hundred and another five thousand and yet another fifty thousand and
still you may come across a further fifty thousand you have never heard of
before, and nobody else either. If you live here long enough you will find
out to your greatest amazement that the adjective nice is not the only
adjective the language possesses, in spite of the fact that in the first
three years you do not need to learn or use any other adjectives. You can
say that the weather is nice, a restaurant is nice, Mr Soandso is nice, Mrs Soandso's clothes are nice, you had a nice time, and all this will be very
nice. Then you have to decide on your accent. You will have your foreign
accent all right, but many people like to mix it with something else. I knew
a Polish Jew who had a strong Yiddish-Irish accent. People found it
fascinating though slightly exaggerated. The easiest way to give the impression of having a good accent or no foreign accent at all is to hold an unlit pipe in your mouth, to mutter between your teeth and finish all your
sentences with the question: 'isn't it?' People will not understand much,
but they are accustomed to that and they will get a most excellent
I have known quite a number of foreigners who tried hard to acquire an
Oxford accent. The advantage of this is that you give the idea of being
permanently in the company of Oxford dons and lecturers on medieval
numismatics; the disadvantage is that the permanent singing is rather a
strain on your throat and that it is a type of affection that even many
English people find it hard to keep up incessantly. You may fall out of it,
speak naturally, and then where are you? The Mayfair accent can be highly
recommended, too. The advantages of Mayfair English are that it unites the
affected air of the Oxford accent with the uncultured flavour of a
half-educated professional hotel-dancer.
The most successful attempts, however, to put on a highly cultured air
have been made on the polysyllabic lines. Many foreigners who have learnt
Latin and Greek in school discover with amazement and satisfaction that the
English language has absorbed a huge amount of ancient Latin and Greek
expressions, and they realize that
a) it is much easier to learn these expressions than the much simpler
b) that these words as a rule are interminably long and make a simply
superb impression when talking to the greengrocer, the porter and the
insurance agent. Imagine, for instance, that the porter of the block of
flats where you live remarks sharply that you must not put your dustbin out
in front of your door before 7.30 a.m. Should you answer 'Please don't bully
me,' a loud and tiresome argument may follow, and certainly the porter will
be proved right, because you are sure to find a dause in your contract
(small print, of last page) that the porter is always right and you owe
absolute allegiance and unconditional obedience to him. Should you answer,
however, with these words: 1 repudiate your petulant expostulations,' the
argument will be closed at once, the porter will be proud of having such a
highly cultured man in the block, and from that day onwards you may, if you
please, get up at four o'clock in the morning and hang your dustbin out of
the window. But even in Curzon Street society, if you say, for instance,
that you are a tough guy they will consider you a vulgar, irritating and
objectionable person. Should you declare, however, that you are an
inquisitorial and peremptory homo sapiens, they will have no idea what you
mean, but they will feel in their bones that you must be something
wonderful. When you know all the long words it is advisable to start
learning some of the short ones, too. You should be careful when using these
endless words. An acquaintance of mine once was fortunate enough to discover
the most impressive word notalgia for back-ache. Mistakenly, however, he
declared in a large company: 'I have such a nostalgia.' 'Oh, you want to go
home to Nizhne-Novgorod?' asked his most sympathetic hostess. 'Not at all,'
he answered. 'I just cannot sit down.' . Finally, there are two important
points to remember:
1. Do not forget that it is much easier to write in English than to
speak English, because you can write without a foreign accent.
2. In a bus and in other public places it is more advisable to speak
softly in good German than to shout in abominable English.
Anyway, this whole language business is not at all easy. After spending
eight years in this country, the other day I was told by a very kind lady:
'But why do you complain? You really speak a most excellent accent without
the slightest English.'
The Language by George Mikes
+ 248 The English have all the material requisites for the revolution. What they lack is the spirit of generalization and revolutionary ardour. Karl Marx
+ 235 Kami are defined in English as "spirits", "essences" or "gods", referring to the energy generating the phenomena.
+ 294 Kami or shin is defined in English as "god", "spirit", "spiritual essence", all these terms meaning the energy generating a thing. Since the Japanese language does not distinguish between singular and plural, kami refers to the divinity, or sacred essence, that manifests in multiple forms. Rocks, trees, rivers, animals, places, and even people can be said to possess the nature of kami. Kami and people exist within the same world and share its interrelated complexity.
+ 282 Though the word Kami is translated in multiple ways into English, no one English word expresses its full meaning. In this way, the ambiguity of the meaning of Kami is necessary, as it conveys the ambiguous nature of Kami themselves. As Shinto is an inclusive religion, Kami has been expanded to include Buddhas and the Judeo-Christian God.
+ 282 Mutual understanding would be immensely facilitated by the use of one universal tongue. But which shall it be, is the great question. At present it looks as if the English might be adopted as such, though it must be admitted that it is not the most suitable. Each language, of course, excels in some feature.... A practical answer to that momentous question must perforce be found in times to come, for it is manifest that by adopting one common language the onward march of man would be prodigiously quickened. I do not believe that an artificial concoction, like Volapuk, will ever find universal acceptance, however time-saving it might be. That would be contrary to human nature. Languages have grown into our hearts. Nikola Tesla
+ 86 Just English Now
+ 101 An Englishman in New York stopped at a window in the middle of which stood one lone clock.
The Englishman went inside.
- he sang out.
From behind a curtain stepped a bearded man in a skullcap.
- Would you please inspect this watch? - The Englishman worked at the strap.
- Tell me whether it needs...
- Why are you asking me?
- asked the bearded one.
- Aren't you a jeweler? -
- No. I'm a moyl. -
- A what? -
- A moyl. I make circumcisions.
- Good Lord! - exclaimed the Englishman.
- But why do you have a clock in your window?! -
- Mister, - sighed the moyl,
- what would you put in the window? -
+ 103 So the Synagogue got really fed up with its Rabbi. The Executive Committee met and ne-too-reluctantly, concluded that they'd have to let him go. Trouble was - who'd want to take him - especially if it got out that he'd been fired? So the Executive Committee decided to give him a glowing letter of recommendation. It compared the Rabbi to Shakespeare, Moses and even G-d Himself. The recommendation was so warm that within six weeks the Rabbi succeeded in securing himself a pulpit in a major upwardly-mobile Synagogue 500 miles away, at twice his original salary and with three junior Rabbis working under him. Needless to say, in a couple of months the Rabbi's new employers began to observe some of his imperfections. The President of the Rabbi's new pulpit angrily called the President of the old Synagogue charging "We employed this man mostly on the basis of your recommendation. How could you possibly compare him to Shakespeare, Moses and even G-d Himself, when he can't string together a correct sentence in English, when his knowledge of Hebrew is worse than mine and that on top of everything else, he's a liar, a cheat and an all-round low-life?" "Simple," answered his colleague. "Like Shakespeare he has no Hebrew or Jewish knowledge. Like Moses, he can't speak English, and like G-d Himself - 'Er is nisht kan mentch (He's not a human being!).