Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Speech

"Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us." - William O. Douglas, fully Judge William Orville Douglas

"Be sparing of speech and things will come right of themselves. " - Lao Tzu, ne Li Urh, also Laotse, Lao Tse, Lao Tse, Lao Zi, Laozi, Lao Zi, La-tsze

"What is called Nothingness is to be found only in time and in speech. In time it stands between the past and future and has no existence in the present; and thus in speech it is one of the things of which we say: They are not, or they are impossible." - Leonardo da Vinci, fully Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci

"It is not speech or tool making that distinguishes us from other animals, it is imagination....Of what use are speech sounds and tools without an inspiration toward perfectibility, without a sense that we can create or construct a history. " - Louise J. Kaplan

"The wise should surrender speech in mind, mind in the knowing self, the knowing self in the Spirit of the universe, and the Spirit of the universe in the Spirit of peace." - Maitri Upanishad or Maitrayaniya Upanishad

"Ere you lie down to sleep in the night, sit still awhile, and nurse again to life your gentler self. Forget the restless, noisy spirit of the day, and encourage to speech the soft voices within you that timidly whisper of the peace of the quiet night; and occasionally look out at the quiet stars. The night will soothe you like a tender mother, folding you against her soft bosom, and hiding you from the harm of the world. Though denied and rejected by men in the light of day, the night will not reject you and in the still of her soft shadows you are free. After the day's struggle there is no freedom like unfettered thoughts, no sound like the music of silence. And though behind you lies a road of dust and heat and discouragement, and before you the challenge and uncertainty of untried paths, in this brief hour you are master of all highways, and the universe nestles in your soul." - Max Ehrmann

"Not until one man speaks to another, does he learn that speech no longer belongs to silence but to man. He learns it through the Thou of the other person, for through the Thou the word first belongs to man and no longer to silence. When two people are conversing with one another, however, a third is always present: Silence is listening. That is what gives breadth to a conversation: when the words are not moving merely within the narrow space occupied by the two speakers, but come from afar, from the place where silence is listening. That gives the words a new fullness. But not only that: the words are spoken as it were from the silence, from that third person, and the listener receives more than the speaker alone is able to give. Silence is the third speaker in such a conversation. At the end of the Platonic dialogues it is always as though silence itself were speaking. The persons who were speaking seem to have become listeners to silence." - Max Picard

"Verbal noise is neither silence nor sound. It permeates silence and sound alike and it causes man to forget both silence and the world. / There has ceased to be any difference between speech and silence, since one single noise of words permeates both the speaker and the non-speaker. The silent listener has simply become a non-speaker. / Verbal noise is a pseudo-language and a pseudo-silence. That is to say, something is spoken and yet it is not real language at all. Something disappears in the noise and yet it is not real silence. When the noise suddenly stops, it is not followed by silence, but merely by a pause in which the noise accumulates in order to expand with even greater force when it is released. / It is as though the noise were afraid that it might disappear, as if it were constantly on the move, because it must always be convincing itself that it really exists. It does not believe in its own existence. / The real word, on the contrary, has no such fear, even when it is not being expressed in sound: its existence is in fact even more palpable in the silence." - Max Picard

"Do not be satisfied with the speech of your lips and the thought in your heart, all the promises and good sayings in your mouth, and all the good thoughts in your heart; rather you must arise and do!" - Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, fully Menachem Mendel Morgensztern of Kotzk, known as the Kotzker Rebbe

"A speech belongs half to the speaker and half to the listener." -

"A speech belongs half to the speaker and half to the listener." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"We men do nothing but lie and make ourselves important. Speech was invented for the purpose of magnifying all of our sensations and impressions — perhaps so that we could believe in them." - Miguel de Unamuno, fully Miguel de Unamuno y Jogo

"To see the universal and all-pervading Spirit of Truth face to face one must be able to love the meanest of creation as oneself. And a man who aspires after that cannot afford to keep out of any field of life. That is why my devotion to Truth has drawn me into the field of politics; and I can say without the slightest hesitation, and yet in all humility, that those who say that religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means. Identification with everything that lives is impossible without self-purification; without self-purification the observance of the law of Ahimsa must remain an empty dream; God can never be realized by one who is not pure of heart. Self-purification therefore must mean purification in all the walks of life. And purification being highly infectious, purification of oneself necessarily leads to the purification of one's surroundings. But the path of self-purification is hard and steep. To attain to perfect purity one has to become absolutely passion-free in thought, speech and action; to rise above the opposing currents of love and hatred, attachment and repulsion. I know that I have not in me as yet that triple purity, in spite of constant ceaseless striving for it. That is why the world's praise fails to move me, indeed it very often stings me. To conquer the subtle passions seems to me to be harder far than the physical conquest of the world by the force of arms. Ever since my return to India I have had experiences of the dormant passions lying hidden within me. The knowledge of them has made me feel humiliated though not defeated. The experiences and experiments have sustained me and given me great joy. But I know that I have still before me a difficult path to traverse. I must reduce myself to zero. So long as a man does not of his own free will put himself last among his fellow creatures, there is no salvation for him. Ahimsa is the farthest limit of humility." - Mahatma Gandhi, fully Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, aka Bapu

"We do not need to proselytise either by our speech or by our writing. We can only do so really with our lives. Let our lives be open books for all to study." - Mahatma Gandhi, fully Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, aka Bapu

"One who has not found peace within himself will forever be giving speeches about peace. This world is a pulpit upon which man preaches, and there is no end to this talk! For millions of years man has been speaking this way, but he has not come forward to first find peace within himself. There is no use in making speeches. Man must acquire the qualities of God and live in that state. Only then can he speak of peace, only then can he speak the speech of God and dispense the justice of God's kingdom." - Bawa Mahaiyadden, fully Muhammad Raheem Bawa Muhaiyaddeen

"The Blessed Holy One constantly constricts his godliness from utmost infinity to the most finite center point of this physical world and he sends to each person thought, speech and deed according to the person and according to the time and place. He enclothes within the thought, speech and deed, hints, in order to bring the person close to his service. Therefore a person needs to delve his mind into this and expand his consciousness in order to understand what the hints are in their details which Hashem is sending to him in the thoughts, words, and deeds of this day according to the specific circumstances he finds himself in. In business or work and in everything that Hashem sends to him each day he needs to delve and expand his mind in it, in order to understand the hints of Hashem. " - Nachman of Breslov, aka Reb Nachman Breslover or Bratslav, Nachman from Uman NULL

"The public is governed as it reasons; its own prerogative is foolish speech and that of its governors is foolish action." - Nicolas Chamfort,fully Sébastien-Roch Nicolas De Chamfort, also spelled Nicholas

"As soon as it is completed, it will be possible for a business man in New York to dictate instructions, and have them instantly appear in type at his office in London or elsewhere. He will be able to call up, from his desk, and talk to any telephone subscriber on the globe, without any change whatever in the existing equipment. An inexpensive instrument, not bigger than a watch, will enable its bearer to hear anywhere, on sea or land, music or song, the speech of a political leader, the address of an eminent man of science, or the sermon of an eloquent clergyman, delivered in some other place, however distant. In the same manner any picture, character, drawing, or print can be transferred from one to another place. Millions of such instruments can be operated from but one plant of this kind. More important than all of this, however, will be the transmission of power, without wires, which will be shown on a scale large enough to carry conviction." - Nikola Tesla

"Making others happy, through kindness of speech and sincerity of right advice, is a sign of true greatness. To hurt another soul by sarcastic words, looks, or suggestions, is despicable. Sarcasm draws out the rebellious spirit and anger in the wrongdoer. Loving suggestions bring out the repentence in him. Repentence consists in thoroughly understanding one's own error and in abandoning it. Friendship is pure by nature. When you have a lilly in your hands, how can you crush it? When you love a person dearly, how can you hurt him, even though he may be wrong? Divine love is unlimited and infinite. When two or more persons are friends always, no matter what happens, that is an expression of divine love, of divine friendship." - Paramahansa Yogananda, born Mukunda Lal Ghosh

"Hear the language, this English, double-jointed as Bedivere's limbs. It only sounds awkward. In its ability to join one concept to another as with pegs, its dependent clauses, figures of speech and cadenced alliteration, a man can say one thing five ways and yet imply a sixth; can change meaning with an inflection, a pause or a deliberate misuse of a word, can mock, scorn and flay an opponent without uttering one overt insult." - Parke Godwin

"A great speech is literature." - Peggy Noonan, born Margaret Ellen Noonan

"A speech is poetry: cadence, rhythm, imagery, sweep! A speech reminds us that words, like children, have the power to make dance the dullest beanbag of a heart. " - Peggy Noonan, born Margaret Ellen Noonan

"I love eulogies. They are the most moving kind of speech because they attempt to pluck meaning from the fog, and on short order, when the emotions are still ragged and raw and susceptible to leaps. " - Peggy Noonan, born Margaret Ellen Noonan

"Speeches are not magic and there is no great speech without great policy." - Peggy Noonan, born Margaret Ellen Noonan

"The most moving thing in a speech is always the logic. It is never flowery and flourishes. It is not sentimental exhortation; it is never the faux poetry we're all subjected to these days. " - Peggy Noonan, born Margaret Ellen Noonan

"They gave her their lives, to her and to all of us, and for their own selves they won praises that never grow old, the most splendid of sepulchers — not the sepulchre in which their bodies are laid, but where their glory remains eternal in men's minds, always there on the right occasion to stir others to speech or to action. For famous men have the whole earth as their memorial: it is not only the inscriptions on their graves in their own country that mark diem out; no, in foreign lands also, not in any visible form but in people's hearts, their memory abides and grows. It is for you to try to be like them. Make up your minds that happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous." - Pericles NULL

"Often the hearts of men and women are stirred, as likewise they are soothed in their sorrows, more by example than by words. And therefore, because I too have known some consolation from speech had with one who was a witness thereof, am I now minded to write of the sufferings which have sprung out of my misfortunes, for the eyes of one who, though absent, is of himself ever a consoler. This I do so that, in comparing your sorrows with mine, you may discover that yours are in truth nought, or at the most but of small account, and so shall you come to bear them more easily." - Pierre Abelard, aka Abailard or Abaelard or Habalaarz

"Under the pretext of study we spent our hours in the happiness of love, and learning held out to us the secret opportunities that our passion craved. Our speech was more of love than of the books which lay open before us; our kisses far outnumbered our reasoned words." - Pierre Abelard, aka Abailard or Abaelard or Habalaarz

"The soul is either raised or cast down by the power of its own thought, speech and action." - Inayat Khan, aka Hazrat Inayat Khan, fully Pir-O-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan

"When speech is controlled, the eyes speak; the glance says what words can never say." - Inayat Khan, aka Hazrat Inayat Khan, fully Pir-O-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan

"Seven marks characterize the clod and seven the wise man. The wise man does not speak before one who is greater than he in wisdom and he does not break in upon the speech of his fellow. He is not hasty to answer. He asks what is relevant and answers according to the Halakah. He speaks on the first point first and on the last point last. Where he has heard no tradition he says, "I have not heard"; and he agrees to what is true. The opposites of these attributes are the marks of the clod." - Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers" NULL

"I speak out of my own experience when I say that no myth, no “miracle” embodying the notion of a direct communication between God & a human creature, goes beyond the effect, soul & body, of those Poems on me: & that were I to put into Oriental forms of speech what I experienced it would read like one of those old “miracles” or myths. Thus of many things that used to appear to me incomprehensible lies, I now perceive the germ of truth & understand that what was called the supernatural was merely an inadequate & too timid way of conceiving the natural. " - Anne Gilchrist, née Burrows

"We who officially value freedom of speech above life itself seem to have nothing to talk about but the weather. " - Barbara Ehrenreich, born Barbara Alexander

"Mother Teresa had just delivered a speech against abortion, and she wanted to talk to me. Mother Teresa was unerringly direct. She disagreed with my views on a woman's right to choose and told me so. Over the years, she sent me dozens of notes and messages with the same gentle entreaty. Mother Teresa never lectured or scolded me; her admonitions were always loving and heartfelt. I had the greatest respect for her opposition to abortion, but I believe that it is dangerous to give any state the power to enforce criminal penalties against women and doctors. I consider that a slippery slope to state control in China and Communist Romania. I also disagreed with her opposition--and that of the Catholic Church--to birth control. However, I support the right of people of faith to speak out against abortion and try to dissuade women, without coercion or criminalization, from choosing abortion instead of adoption. Mother Teresa and I found much common ground in many other areas including the importance of adoption." - Hillary Rodham Clinton

"Be a craftsman in speech that thou mayest be strong, for the strength of one is the tongue, and speech is mightier than all fighting. " - Ptah-hotep, aka Ptahhotpe or Ptah-Hotep NULL

"Let me silent be; For silence is the speech of love, The music of the spheres above. Men can be great when great occasions call: In little duties women find their spheres, The narrow cares that cluster round the hearth. Not that the heavens the little can make great, But many a man has lived an age too late." - R. H. Stoddard, fully Richard Henry Stoddard

"In anger we should refrain both from speech and action." - Pythagoras, aka Pythagoras of Samos or Pythagoras the Samian NULL

"It is not proper either to have a blunt sword or to use freedom of speech ineffectually." - Pythagoras, aka Pythagoras of Samos or Pythagoras the Samian NULL

"Neither is the sun to be taken from the world, nor freedom of speech from erudition. When a reasonable Soul forsaketh his divine nature, and becometh beast-like, it dieth. For though the substance of the Soul be incorruptible: yet, lacking the use of Reason, it is reputed dead; for it loseth the Intellective Life." - Pythagoras, aka Pythagoras of Samos or Pythagoras the Samian NULL

"Speech is after all only a system of gestures, having the peculiarity that each gesture produces a characteristic sound, so that it can be perceived through the ear as well as through the eye. Listening to a speaker instead of looking at him tends to make us think of speech as essentially a system of sounds; but it is not; essentially it is a system of gestures made with the lungs and larynx, and the cavities of the mouth and nose. We get still farther away from the fundamental facts about speech when we think of it as something that can be written and read, forgetting that what writing, in our clumsy notations, can represent is only a small part of the spoken sound, where pitch and stress, tempo and rhythm, are almost entirely ignored. But even a writer or reader, unless the words are to fall flat or meaningless, must speak them soundlessly to himself. The written or printed book is only a series of hints, as elliptical as the neumes of Byzantine music, from which the reader thus works out for himself the speech-gestures which alone have the gift of expression." - R. G. Collingwood, fully Robert George Collingwood

"The Blessed Holy One constantly constricts his godliness from utmost infinity to the most finite center point of this physical world and he sends to each person thought, speech and deed according to the person and according to the time and place. He enclothes within the thought, speech and deed, hints, in order to bring the person close to his service. Therefore a person needs to delve his mind into this and expand his consciousness in order to understand what the hints are in their details which Hashem is sending to him in the thoughts, words, and deeds of this day according to the specific circumstances he finds himself in. In business or work and in everything that Hashem sends to him each day he needs to delve and expand his mind in it, in order to understand the hints of Hashem. " - Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav or Breslov, aka Reb Nachman Breslover or Nachman from Uman NULL

"A speech without a specific purpose is like a journey without a destination." - Ralph C. Smedley

"What does it mean to a physician to practice medicine without mystery? When I was a medical student, my school had a large, black-tie retirement dinner for a very famous man on the medical faculty, whose scientific contribution had earned him a Nobel prize. He was 80 years old. The entire school gathered to honor him, and famous medical people came from all over the world. This doctor gave a wonderful speech describing the progress of scientific knowledge during the 50 years that he had been a physician. We gave him a standing ovation. After we sat down he remained at the podium. There was a brief silence and then he said, There's something else important that I want to say. And I especially want to tell the students. I have been a physician for 50 years and I don't know anything more about life now than I did at the beginning. I am no wiser. It slipped through my fingers. We were stunned into silence. I remember thinking that perhaps he was senile. In retrospect, it was a very remarkable thing he did. He took an opportunity to warn us about the cage of ideas and roles and self-expectations that was closing around us, even as he spoke to us - the cage that would keep us from achieving our good purpose, which is healing. Healing is a matter of wisdom, not of scientific knowledge." - Rachel Naomi Remen

"All language begins with speech, and the speech of common men at that, but when it develops to the point of becoming a literary medium it only looks like speech." - Raymond Chandler, fully Raymond Thornton Chandler

"Let me silent be; For silence is the speech of love, The music of the spheres above." - Richard Henry Stoddard

"Over the centuries, we've moved on from Scripture to accumulate precepts of ethical, legal and moral philosophy. We've evolved a liberal consensus of what we regard as underpinnings of decent society, such as the idea that we don't approve of slavery or discrimination on the grounds of race or sex, that we respect free speech and the rights of the individual. All of these things that have become second nature to our morals today owe very little to religion, and mostly have been won in opposition to the teeth of religion." - Richard Dawkins

"The real problem in speech is not precise language. The problem is clear language. The desire is to have the idea clearly communicated to the other person. It is only necessary to be precise when there is some doubt as to the meaning of a phrase, and then the precision should be put in the place where the doubt exists. It is really quite impossible to say anything with absolute precision, unless that thing is so abstracted from the real world as to not represent any real thing.?Pure mathematics is just an abstraction from the real world, and pure mathematics does have a special precise language for dealing with its own special and technical subjects. But this precise language is not precise in any sense if you deal with real objects of the world, and it is only pedantic and quite confusing to use it unless there are some special subtleties which have to be carefully distinguished." - Richard Feynman, fully Richard Phillips Feynman

"As we may know who dwells in a house by observing who go in and come out, so we may know that the Spirit dwells in us by observing what sanctified speech He sends forth and what delight He has wrought in us to things that are spiritual, and what price we set upon them. Whereas a carnal man lowers the price of spiritual things because his soul cleaves to something that he rejoices in far more, and this is the cause why he slights the directions and comforts of the Word; but those in whom the Spirit dwells, will consult with it, and not I regard what flesh and blood will dictate, but will follow the directions of the Word and Spirit of God." - Richard Sibbes (or Sibbs)

"There is no such thing as a nonpolitical speech by a politician." - Richard Nixon, fully Richard Milhous Nixon

"Nothing is more dangerous to maidenly delicacy of speech than the run of a good library." - Robertson Davies