Mark Twain once said, “My philological studies have satisfied me that a gifted person ought to learn English (barring spelling and pronouncing) in thirty hours, French in thirty days, and German in thirty years.”
How easy (or hard) it is to learn a language depends on your mother tongue. If you speak English you have a headstart with German – the English word ‘father’ and German ‘vater’ are not that different. But there’s a nugget of truth in Twain’s claim. German doesn’t try to make it any easier. It has three genders, four cases, six ways of writing the definite article and twelve ways of forming plurals!
And now, here are some quotations I like:
In words are seen the state of mind and character and disposition of the speaker.
-Plutarch, biographer and philosopher (circa 46-120)
To a clear eye the smallest fact is a window through which the infinite may be seen.
-Thomas Henry Huxley, biologist and writer (1825-1895)
That action is best which accomplishes the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers.
-Francis Hutcheson, philosopher (1694-1746)
Words are timeless. You should utter them or write them with a knowledge of their timelessness.
-Kahlil Gibran, mystic, poet, and artist (1883-1931)
Only those things are beautiful which are inspired by madness and written by reason.
-Andre Gide, author, Nobel laureate (1869-1951)
It is my belief that the writer, the free-lance author, should be and must be a critic of the society in which he lives. It is easy enough, and always profitable, to rail away at national enemies beyond the sea, at foreign powers beyond our borders who question the prevailing order. But the moral duty of the free writer is to begin his work at home; to be a critic of his own community, his own country, his own culture. If the writer is unwilling to fill this part, then the writer should abandon pretense and find another line of work: become a shoe repairman, a brain surgeon, a janitor, a cowboy, a nuclear physicist, a bus driver.
-Edward Abbey, naturalist and author (1927-1989)
He who has a why can endure any how.
-Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher (1844-1900)
The art of life is to know how to enjoy a little and to endure much.
-William Hazlitt, essayist (1778-1830)
Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar.
-Bradley Miller, activist (b. 1956)
To cultivate kindness is a valuable part of the business of life.
-Samuel Johnson, lexicographer (1709-1784)
On two occasions I have been asked, “Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?” I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.
-Charles Babbage, mathematician and computer scientist (1791-1871)
Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials.
-Lin Yutang, writer and translator (1895-1976)
Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.
-Oprah Winfrey, talk show host and philanthropist (b. 1954)
Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.
-A. A. Milne author (1882-1956)
Words form the thread on which we string our experiences.
-Aldous Huxley, novelist (1894-1963)
The path of least resistance makes all rivers, and some men, crooked.
-Napoleon Hill, author (1883-1970)
Every man is a damned fool for at least five minutes every day. Wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit.
-Elbert Hubbard, author, editor, printer (1856-1915)
There are two kinds of truth: the truth that lights the way and the truth that warms the heart. The first of these is science, and the second is art. Neither is independent of the other or more important than the other. Without art science would be as useless as a pair of high forceps in the hands of a plumber. Without science art would become a crude mess of folklore and emotional quackery. The truth of art keeps science from becoming inhuman, and the truth of science keeps art from becoming ridiculous.
-Raymond Thornton Chandler, writer (1888-1959)
When small men begin to cast big shadows, it means that the sun is about to set.
-Lin Yutang, writer and translator (1895-1976)
The Potter books in general are a prolonged argument for tolerance, a prolonged plea for an end to bigotry, and I think it’s one of the reasons that some people don’t like the books, but I think that it’s a very healthy message to pass on to younger people that you should question authority and you should not assume that the establishment or the press tells you all of the truth.
-J.K. Rowling, novelist (b. 1965)
Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war.
-Otto von Bismarck, statesman (1815-1898)
There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up a pen to write.
-William Makepeace Thackeray, novelist (1811-1863)
It was my shame, and now it is my boast, That I have loved you rather more than most.
-Hilaire Belloc, writer and poet (1870-1953)
A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs — jolted by every pebble in the road.
-Henry Ward Beecher, preacher and writer (1813-1887)
The secret of good writing is to say an old thing in a new way or a new thing in an old way.
-Richard Harding Davis, journalist and author (1864-1916)