Civilization could not exist until there was written language, because without written language no generation could bequeath to succeeding generations anything but its simpler findings.— Charlton Laird
The most charming Charlton Laird quotes that are glad to read
You and I who read and write books have very little effect upon language.
We may think about it, write about it, and read about it, but it goes on without us, or in spite of us.
Amoebas, once they have themselves well pulled in two, go their ways-they practice divorce, but no remarriage.
Man can be defined, if one wishes, as a languag-ized mammal.
Babies and language are the essential ingredients of civilization, and speakers of language no more know where it came from than babies know where they come from.
Jazz was formerly a crude term for indulging in an action which in polite society is referred to, if at all, only with such vague Latin terms as intercourse and cohabitation.
An amoeba is a formless thing which takes many shapes.
It moves by thrusting out an arm, and flowing into the arm. It multiplies by pulling itself in two, without permanently diminishing the original. So with words. A meaning may develop on the periphery of the body of meanings associated with a word, and shortly this tentacle-meaning has grown to such proportions that it dwarfs all other meanings.
Grammar is not a set of rules; it is something inherent in the language, and language cannot exist without it. It can be discovered, but not invented.
The truth seems to be that they [teachers of grammar] were victims of a mighty hoax, one of those true belly-rumbling impostures which a workaday world can but seldom afford.
Quite naturally, scholars assumed that Latin grammar was not merely Latin grammar, but that it was grammar itself. They borrowed it and made the most of it.
If language is intimately related to being human, then when we study language we are, to a remarkable degree, studying human nature.
The great arbiters of language are the women who speak it in the presence of children... What the women pass on to the next generation is "right" and what they do not bother to pass on to their children sooner or later becomes "wrong.
Language is a living thing. It must survive in men's minds and on their tongues if it survives at all.