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First Language Quotes


"Silence is God's first language." - John of the Cross

"French was my first language." - Bob Cousy

"My first language is Gaelic." - Enya

"Touch is the first language we speak." - Stephen Gaskin

"English is not my first language." - Zhu Zhu

"Language comes first. It's not that language grows out of consciousness, if you haven't got language, you can't be conscious." - Alan Moore

"God's first language is Silence. Everything else is a translation." - Thomas Keating

"I think of language as our first music." - Yusef Komunyakaa

"English is my second language. Laughter is my first." - Paul Krassner

"Clarity of language is the first casualty of authoritarianism." - Robin Morgan

"Photography was the first foreign language of my artistic expression." - Jerzy Kosinski

"Language instruction should start in the first grade. Writing, also." - Nikki Giovanni

"Poetry is, first and last, language - the rest is filler." - Mark Strand

"Sign language is my first language. English and Spanish are my second languages. I learned Spanish from my grandparents, sign language from my parents, and English from television." - Jack Jason

"The mystic lives and looks; and speaks the disconcerting language of first-hand experience." - Evelyn Underhill

"The most disastrous thing that you can ever learn is your first programming language." - Alan Kay

"Humor is the first gift to perish in a foreign language." - Virginia Woolf

"We breathe in our first language, and swim in our second." - Adam Gopnik

"Literature belongs first and foremost to the language in which it is being written." - Amos Oz

"...I also discovered Larry's First Law of Language Redesign: Everyone wants the colon." - Larry Wall

"The most difficult step in the study of language is the first step." - Leonard Bloomfield

"A common language is a first step towards communication across cultural boundaries." - Ethan Zuckerman

"When you speak a foreign language, you become someone else. If you aren't used to speaking a language, and you start speaking it again, for the first few sentences you'll find yourself in very strange shape, because you're still the person who was speaking the first language. But if you keep speaking that language, you will become the person who corresponds to it." - Eugene Green

"When the eyes say one thing, and the tongue another, a practiced man relies on the language of the first." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Drawing - it's the first language of human beings, before writing, before even talking, before words, human beings was drawing." - Marjane Satrapi

"What is love at first sight but a proof of the powerful but silent language of physiognomy?" - Mary C. Ames

"Learn your language well and command it well, and you will have the first component to life." - Edward R Murrow

"The First Amendment...begins with the five loveliest words in the English language: 'Congress shall make no law'." - George Will

"Sacrifice is the first element of religion, and resolves itself in theological language into the love of God." - James Anthony Froude

"Like a baby learning language, we learn how to communicate with God by listening to His words first." - Timothy Keller

"One of the first issues I dealt with was the struggle to find a language, to find my own words." - Rirkrit Tiravanija

"What is love at first sight but a proof of the powerful but silent language of physiognomy." - Mary Clemmer

"I'm just being honest about the fact that a second language won't resonate with you like the first does." - Karin Tidbeck

"When the eyes say one thing, and the tongue another, a practised man relies on the language of the first." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"We've been speaking English as a second language so long that we've forgotten it as our first." - Chuck Palahniuk

"Touch comes before sight, before speech. It is the first language and the last, and it always tells the truth." - Margaret Atwood

"Somebody said to me that I speak English almost like somebody for whom English is not their first language." - Christopher Walken

"I learned Spanish at home and, since half my family doesn't speak English, it's my first language." - Odette Annable

"I think in general I've never dared compose in Spanish. First of all, it is such an intricate language." - Marc Anthony

"I studied in American school, so yes, I grew up speaking English and Spanish. Obviously, Spanish is my first language." - Eiza Gonzalez

"I grew up in France, my first language was French, and I tend to gravitate towards French cooking." - Robert Stack

"Women want to talk first, connect first, then have sex. For men, sex is the connection. Sex is man's language of intimacy" - Esther Perel

"If a person calls themself 'autistic' and you tell them they have to use 'person first language'... you're not putting the person first." - Stuart Duncan

"I hold 'Mi Tierra,' my first Spanish-language album, very close to me because that was all done in my native tongue and won me my first Grammy." - Gloria Estefan

"Language cares." - Howard Nemerov

"Language itself is a mask. It's the first mask in the series of invented selves - they've come right out of language. The way you speak changes you, because when you are speaking, you are representing yourself in a certain way." - Vijay Seshadri

"The Universe is a grand book which cannot be read until one first learns to comprehend the language and become familiar with the characters in which it is composed. It is written in the language of mathematics." - Galileo Galilei

"My first language, the true language of the soul spoken only on our planet of origin, had no word for betrayal or traitor. Or even loyalty- because without the opposite, the concept had no meaning." - Stephenie Meyer

"Because it's my first language, all the literature that I've read and all the things that I've been inspired by that have been written in Welsh have moved me beyond anything that I've experienced in any other language." - Gwenno

"The first time I went to Mexico, it was really difficult. Number one is the language, I didn't know any Spanish language. Of course, the culture itself. Very different from where I grew up." - Tomoki Kameda

"I will not compromise on language or content. At 15, people can handle the same language as me, they're just as complicated as me and are very interested in thinking about important questions for the first time." - Aidan Chambers

"My dad is a minister, and my mum is a worker with the less fortunate and the disabled. They're Nigerian natives. Their first language is Yoruba, and their second language is English." - John Boyega

"Even though many Indians can read or speak English, for most, it is not their first language. At the office, we speak in English, but we consume our culture in our own language." - Amish Tripathi

"Lying is the misuse of language. We know that. We need to remember that it works the other way round too. Even with the best intentions, language misused, language used stupidly, carelessly, brutally, language used wrongly, breeds lies, half-truths, confusion. In that sense you can say that grammar is morality. And it is in that sense that I say a writer's first duty is to use language well." - Ursula K Le Guin

"Greek mathematics is the real thing. The Greeks first spoke a language which modern mathematicians can understand... So Greek mathematics is 'permanent', more permanent even than Greek literature." - G H Hardy

"Cat talk is a complicated, self-centered language. If you speak to your cat first, it probably won't speak back. Cats initiate conversations." - Jean Craighead George

"If you have an enemy, you first have to listen - whether he really is an enemy or just speaks in a different language" - Hans-Peter Durr

"The first and most important thing of all, at least for writers today, is to strip language clean, to lay it bare down to the bone." - Ernest Hemingway

"It is through our hands that we speak to the child. That we communicate. Touch is the child's first language, understanding comes long after feeling" - Frederick Leboyer

"Some people are born with the first word of a language resting on their tongue though it may take some time before they can taste it." - Shannon Hale

"He understood for the first time that the world is not dumb at all, but merely waiting for someone to speak to it in a language it understands." - Susanna Clarke

"Drawing is the first language of the human being before writing. It's a transcription of how the human being sees reality, not reality itself." - Marjane Satrapi

"When a society decays, it is language that is first to become gangrenous. As a result, social criticism begins with grammar and the re-establishing of meanings" - Octavio Paz

"Mine. The language of love is like that, possessive. That should be the first warning that it's not going to encourage anyone's betterment." - Holly Black

"Why in the world anyone in America is allowing another language (other than English) to be his first... I don't know" - Margaret Thatcher

"Each composer has their own language, and I try to meet the challenges, even if at first sight, they appear impossible." - Michala Petri

"Economists get impatient with philosophy. They are often trained as skilled mathematicians. They don't like going back to ordinary language and first principles." - Martha C. Nussbaum

"First we need to rethink the terms and recognize that we've imported this language from the technocratic class, from Silicon Valley, that talks about openness and transparency." - Astra Taylor

"Someone handed me Mexico City Blues in St. Paul in 1959 and it blew my mind. It was the first poetry that spoke my own language." - Bob Dylan

"I speak to people in the languagethey understand. First I have a dialogue, if that is not understood I speak inanother language. There is no remedy for this." - Raj Thackeray

"Someone handed me Mexico City Blues in St. Paul [Minnesota] in 1959 and it blew my mind. It was the first poetry that spoke my own language." - Bob Dylan

"In other words, the man who is born into existence deals first with language; this is a given. He is even caught in it before his birth." - Jacques Lacan

"My first language was shy. It's only by having been thrust into the limelight that I have learned to cope with my shyness." - Al Pacino

"To work our way towards a shared language once again, we must first learn how to discover patterns which are deep, and capable of generating life." - Christopher Alexander

"In the studio system, things are expected of a film. By the first, second, third act, there's a generic language that comes out of the more commercial system." - Ralph Fiennes

"Physical expression was my first language: Before I was an actor, I was a dancer, an acrobat, a mime and a street performer." - Denis Lavant

"The writer's first affinity is not to a loyalty, a tradition, a morality, a religion, but to life itself, and to its representation in language." - Jayne Anne Phillips

"The fact that all our ape cousins - chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans - can acquire signs - is powerful evidence that our hominid ancestors' first language was gestural and that the vocal version of language was a relatively recent development. My own guess is that vocal language began emerging about 200,000 years ago." - Roger Fouts

""The Dream of a Common Language" by Adrienne Rich. I carried it the entire hike. On my first night, when I felt like I was in too deep, I read the first poem out loud to myself over and over." - Cheryl Strayed

"The commerce of minds was necessarily the first commerce in the world,... since before bartering things one must barter signs, and it is necessary therefore that signs be instituted. There is no market or exchange without language. The first instrument of all commerce is language." - Paul Valery

"The commerce of minds was necessarily the first commerce in the world, ... since before bartering things one must barter signs, and it is necessary therefore that signs be instituted. There is no market or exchange without language. The first instrument of all commerce is language." - Paul Valery

"Music is a language, a universal language." - Sun Ra

"I have a funny relationship to language. When I came to California when I was three I spoke Urdu fluently and I didn't speak a word of English. Within a few months I lost all my Urdu and spoke only English and then I learned Urdu all over again when I was nine. Urdu is my first language but it's not as good as my English and it's sort of become my third language. English is my best language but was the second language I learned." - Mohsin Hamid

"Fashion is instant language." - Miuccia Prada

"All language is political ..." - Robin Lakoff

"Verbing weirds language." - Bill Watterson

"Mathematics is a language" - J. Willard Gibbs

"language is never neutral" - Paulo Freire

"Language disguises thought." - Ludwig Wittgenstein

"Language changes very fast." - John M. Smith

"BASIC - A programming language." - Anonymous

"Music is a language." - Youssou Ndour

"...language is never innocent." - Roland Barthes

"Language is fossil Poetry." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"I love body language." - Anton Corbijn

"Lexicographers are language reporters." - Erin Mckean

"Language changes very fast." - John Maynard Smith

"Records have never really been my strong suit. I've always been a much better live act. I didn't understand the language of the studio. You sing differently in a studio. The language, the craft - it's just a whole different deal. I avoided the problem on my first record by doing a live album." - Jewel Kilcher

"God has communicated to man, the infinite to the finite. The One who made man capable of language in the first place has communicated to man in language about both spiritual reality and physical reality, about the nature of God and the nature of man." - Francis Schaeffer

"Exactness is first obtained, and afterwards elegance. But diction, merely vocal, is always in its childhood. As no man leaves his eloquence behind him, the new generations have all to learn. There may possibly be books without a polished language, but there can be no polished language without books." - Samuel Johnson

"Armstrong was the key creator of the mature working language of jazz. Three decades after his death and more than three-quarters of a century since his influence first began to spread, not a single musician who has mastered that language fails to make daily use, knowingly or unknowingly, of something that was invented by Louis Armstrong." - Dan Morgenstern

"Literature belongs first and foremost to the language in which it is being written. The very same book, even if it is translated very accurately, let's say from Hebrew into English or from English into Hebrew, becomes a different book because language is a musical instrument." - Amos Oz

"First you look for discipline and control. You want to exercise your will, bend the language your way, bend the world your way. You want to control the flow of impulses, images, words, faces, ideas. But there's a higher place, a secret aspiration. You want to let go. You want to lose yourself in language, become a carrier or messenger." - Don Delillo

"There is a pretty interesting document called 'action writing.' Which is not all about spontaneity and first thought, best thought,' but a certain kind of attention to the smallest increments of the phonemes of language, The kind of power of connection, what he is able to do with language." - Anne Waldman

"There is nothing terribly difficult in the Bible - at least in a technical way. The Bible is written in street language, common language. Most of it was oral and spoken to illiterate people. They were the first ones to receive it. So when we make everything academic, we lose something." - Eugene H Peterson

"It is a sore point, because you do have advantages if you have access to more than one language. You also have problems, because on bad days you don't trust yourself, either in your first or your second language, and so you feel like a complete halfwit." - W G Sebald

"When I started formulating the first Frank comic, I knew I wanted it to be something that was beyond time and specific place. I felt that having the characters speak would tie it to 20th-century America, because that would be the idiom of the language they would use, the language I use." - Jim Woodring

"Records have never really been my strong suit. I've always been a much better live act. I didn't understand the language of the studio. You sing differently in a studio. The language, the craft - it's just a whole different deal. I avoided the problem on my first record by doing a live album." - Jewel

"Serial tasking is hard because switching tasks is hard, even when the tasks are easy and similar. In some experiments, bilingual speakers are asked to read out numbers, first in one language and then midway in another language. They often stumble at the switch, taking many tries before they hit their stride again." - Sendhil Mullainathan

"When I took part in European leaders summits, it was sometimes unpleasant for me to hear Romanian, Polish, Portuguese, and Italian friends speak English, although I admit that on an informal basis, first contacts can be made in this language. Nevertheless, I will defend everywhere the use of the French language." - Francois Hollande

"The language that we use now impacts on the ability to vote, it impacts on the marketplace; instead of making things clear, it makes it more confusing. I think we need to stop using neutral language and speak in straighter terms. So when you agree to something, you actually get what you agreed to in the first place." - Josh Homme

"Women are storytellers, they are communicators. They'll go and sit around a table and talk about their first date, their first smoke, their first lipstick, whatever it is. Those rituals of life, marriages and death aren't part of the language of men." - Anita Roddick

"Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement . . . says heaven and earth in one word . . . speaks of himself and his predicament as though for the first time." - Christopher Fry

"Courage, the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language - it's from the Latin word cor, meaning heart - and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart." - Brene Brown

"Philosophy is written in that great book which ever lies before our eyes - I mean the universe - but we cannot understand it if we do not first learn the language and grasp the symbols, in which it is written" - Galileo Galilei

"Story is the mother of us all. First we wrap our lives in language and then we act on who we say we are. We proceed from the word into the world and make a world based on our stories." - Christina Baldwin

"Should such an ignorant people lead the world? How did it come to this in the first place? 82 percent of us don't even have a passport! Just a handful can speak a language other than English" - Michael Moore

"Expressing emotion is not so easy. He has to remind himself that English is not her first language. Expressing emotion can be difficult even when the words are familiar." - Elise Valmorbida

"Our parents taught us to love God, love our family and love our country. Their own grandparents were immigrants. Their first language may not have been English, but the hopes and dreams they had for their children were purely American." - Martin O'Malley

"Common sense doesn't have the last word in ethics or anywhere else, but it has, as J. L. Austin said about ordinary language, the first word: it should be examined before it is discarded." - Thomas Nagel

"Chess is like a language, the top players are very fluent at it. Talent can be developed scientifically but you have to find first what you are good at." - Viswanathan Anand

"Russian is a very deceptive language, because it looks easy at first: it's like setting out for a gentle stroll and realizing that you've committed yourself to scaling Himalayan peaks." - Armand Hammer

"No new reader, however charitable, could open "Fifty Shades of Grey," browse a few paragraphs, and reasonably conclude that the author was writing in her first language, or even her fourth." - Anthony Lane

"I look forward to my first visit to Israel. Music is a universal language that is meant to unify audiences in peace and love, and that is the spirit of our show." - Alicia Keys

"in prosperity prayers seem but a mere medley of words, until misfortune comes and the unhappy sufferer first understands the meaning of the sublime language in which he invokes the pity of heaven!" - Alexandre Dumas

"First I think I was interested in the stories, and later on, I became more interested in the language itself, so the stories became almost secondary, but it was kind of a background music for my life." - Tom Robbins

"In every language, the first word after "Mama!" that every kid learns to say is "Mine!" A system that doesn't allow ownership, that doesn't allow you to say "Mine!" when you grow up, has" - Frank Zappa

"Language is a signifier - it points to something. But those somethings change sometimes. Where the line comes down is that change is not in the dictionary first, it's not: change the signifier and the signified will go away." - Kory Stamper

"All of a sudden it's twelve-year-olds who are contacting me, fifteen-year-olds, and they have very, very fascinating questions. However, they speak in a language of their age group which I have to learn first." - Werner Herzog

"The first language that I learned was Italian in Italy in the early and middle-'60s and I had to do that to keep up with the young men who were courting my wife." - Clive James

"My first months in Sofia were a time of intense disorientation: I had never been to that part of the world before; I could barely speak the language; everything seemed strange to me." - Garth Greenwell

"When I took my first poetry class, I felt that I could understand the relationships between words and the formal qualities of language in a way I would never understand music." - Garth Greenwell

"It's difficult for me to write in English as it's not my first language, but French is even worse because of my father's influence and because the comparisons that I - not even other people - would make." - Charlotte Gainsbourg

"Now we have this idea that, not only do you go to first grade to learn your family's language, but you go to a university to learn about the person you were before you left home." - Richard Rodriguez

"rdinary language is not the last word: in principle it can everywhere be supplemented and improved upon and superseded. Only remember, it is the first word. -Austin, Papers 185." - J L Austin

"Let today be the first day of a new American Revolution - a Digital Revolution, a revolution built not on blood and conflict, but on language and reason and our faith in each other." - Mike Godwin

"Music came first and I started to jam with people I couldn't communicate in their language. Then, because I could make friends thanks to music, they started to talk to me. Then I started to learn English." - Hiromi

"No new reader, however charitable, could open "Fifty Shades of Grey," browse a few paragraphs, and reasonably conclude that the author was writing in her first language, or even her fourth." - Anthony Lane

"In making a speech one must study three points: first, the means of producing persuasion; second, the language; third the proper arrangement of the various parts of the speech." - Aristotle

"My first language is both English and Spanish. My mom was raised in Los Angeles, so with her we spoke English, but my father was born in Cuba, so with him we spoke Spanish." - Jencarlos Canela

"An important aspect of the current situation is the strong social reaction against suggestions that the home language of African American children be used in the first steps of learning to read and write." - William Labov

"Hebrew is my first language, so it's really the most personal and the most simple. When I write in Hebrew, I don't look for sophistication in music; it's just pure emotion that comes out." - Yael Naim

"Raising children is, in a sense, the reason the society exists in the first place. It's the most important thing that happens, and it's the culmination of all the tools and language and social structure that has evolved." - Michael Crichton

"The Little Friend is a long book. It's also completely different from my first novel: different landscape, different characters, different use of language and diction, different approach to story." - Donna Tartt

"I would like to spend more time with Spanish poetry. I know French better than Spanish, but Spanish was my first language, and my father spoke it to us." - Helen Vendler

"I lived in England to learn English. When I went to England for the first time, it was like being on the Moon. I had no friends, I couldn't speak the language. I was very isolated." - Jean Alesi

"For my Oxford degree, I had to translate French and German philosophy (as it turned out, Descartes and Kant) at sight without a dictionary. That meant Germany for my first summer vacation, to learn the thorny language on my own." - Paul Engle

"First of all, there was a volcano of words, an eruption of words that Shakespeare had never used before that had never been used in the English language before. It's astonishing. It pours out of him." - Stephen Greenblatt

"It is an agreeable and yet a painful sense of novelty to stand for the first time in the midst of a people whose language and manners are different from one's own." - Bayard Taylor

"I did my first movie, 'The Mambo Kings,' in America without speaking the language. I learned the lines phonetically. I had an interpreter actually just to understand directions from my director." - Antonio Banderas



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