I love languages. I love listening to the different sounds. I love reading to my kids in different languages. I love it that we are a bilingual family, and that we are becoming a trilingual family.
But sometimes it is hard to make myself understood. We’ve had comments about our accents being different, and being difficult to understand. I have the hardest time speaking to customer service people over the phone. So it is good to read some quotes about the diversity of languages, and the benefits of multilingualism. Here are some of my favorites (from the MotherTongues website):
If you talk to [someone] in a language [he or she] understands, that goes to [the person’s] head. If you talk to [somebody] in [his or her] language, that goes to [the] heart.
– Nelson Mandela
Speak a new language so that the world will be a new world.
Being exposed to the existence of other languages increases the perception that the world is populated by people who not only speak differently from oneself but whose cultures and philosophies are other than one’s own. Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry but by demonstrating that all people cry, laugh, eat, worry and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try to understand each other, we may even become friends.
– Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now
How many languages are there in the world? How about 5 billion! Each of us talks, listens, and thinks in his/her own special language that has been shaped by our culture, experiences, profession, personality, mores and attitudes. The chances of us meeting someone else who talks the exact same language is pretty remote.
A special kind of beauty exists which is born in language, of language, and for language.
– Gaston Bachelard
For me, words are a form of action, capable of influencing change.
– Ingrid Bengis
Among my most prized possessions are words that I have never spoken.
– Orson Rega Card
To have another language is to possess a second soul.
Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.
– Rita Mae Brown
Language is a city to the building of which every human being brought a stone.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Those who know nothing of foreign languages, knows nothing of their own.
– Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.
– Oliver Wendell Holmes
I am always sorry when any language is lost, because languages are the pedigrees of nations.
– Samuel Johnson
Americans who travel abroad for the first time are often shocked to discover that, despite all the progress that has been made in the last 30 years, many foreign people still speak in foreign languages.
– Dave Barry
I have been a believer in the magic of language since, at a very early age, I discovered that some words got me into trouble and others got me out.
– Katherine Dunn
Language is wine upon the lips.
– Virginia Woolf
There are hundreds of languages in the world, but a smile speaks them all.
The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.
– Ludwig Wittgenstein
We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.
– Toni Morrison
Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about.
– Benjamin Lee Whorf
If we spoke a different language, we would perceive a somewhat different world.
– Ludwig Wittgenstein
We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race.
– Kofi Annan