Language

   1) The Book of Nature Is Written in the Language of Mathematics
   Philosophy is written in that great book, the universe, which is always open, right before our eyes. But one cannot understand this book without first learning to understand the language and to know the characters in which it is written. It is written in the language of mathematics, and the characters are triangles, circles, and other figures. Without these, one cannot understand a single word of it, and just wanders in a dark labyrinth. (Galileo, 1990, p. 232)
   2) Arranging Speech so as to Reply Appropriately
   It never happens that it [a nonhuman animal] arranges its speech in various ways in order to reply appropriately to everything that may be said in its presence, as even the lowest type of man can do. (Descartes, 1970a, p. 116)
   3) No Other Animal Has the Language Capacity of the Human
   It is a very remarkable fact that there are none so depraved and stupid, without even excepting idiots, that they cannot arrange different words together, forming of them a statement by which they make known their thoughts; while, on the other hand, there is no other animal, however perfect and fortunately circumstanced it may be, which can do the same. (Descartes, 1967, p. 116)
   4) Human Beings Do Not Live Only in the World of Objects
   Human beings do not live in the object world alone, nor alone in the world of social activity as ordinarily understood, but are very much at the mercy of the particular language which has become the medium of expression for their society. It is quite an illusion to imagine that one adjusts to reality essentially without the use of language and that language is merely an incidental means of solving specific problems of communication or reflection. The fact of the matter is that the "real world" is to a large extent unconsciously built on the language habits of the group. . . . We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation. (Sapir, 1921, p. 75)
   5) Language Powerfully Conditions All Our Thinking
   It powerfully conditions all our thinking about social problems and processes. . . . No two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered as representing the same social reality. The worlds in which different societies live are distinct worlds, not merely the same worlds with different labels attached. (Sapir, 1985, p. 162)
   6) A List of Language Games
   [A list of language games, not meant to be exhaustive:]
   Giving orders, and obeying them- Describing the appearance of an object, or giving its measurements- Constructing an object from a description (a drawing)Reporting an eventSpeculating about an eventForming and testing a hypothesisPresenting the results of an experiment in tables and diagramsMaking up a story; and reading itPlay actingSinging catchesGuessing riddlesMaking a joke; and telling it
   Solving a problem in practical arithmeticTranslating from one language into another
   LANGUAGE Asking, thanking, cursing, greeting, and praying-. (Wittgenstein, 1953, Pt. I, No. 23, pp. 11 e-12 e)
   7) Language Constrains Certain Modes of Interpretation
   We dissect nature along lines laid down by our native languages. . . . The world is presented in a kaleidoscopic flux of impressions which has to be organized by our minds-and this means largely by the linguistic systems in our minds. . . . No individual is free to describe nature with absolute impartiality but is constrained to certain modes of interpretation even while he thinks himself most free. (Whorf, 1956, pp. 153, 213-214)
   8) We Dissect Nature in Accordance with Our Native Languages
   We dissect nature along the lines laid down by our native languages.
   The categories and types that we isolate from the world of phenomena we do not find there because they stare every observer in the face; on the contrary, the world is presented in a kaleidoscopic flux of impressions which has to be organized by our minds-and this means largely by the linguistic systems in our minds. . . . We are thus introduced to a new principle of relativity, which holds that all observers are not led by the same physical evidence to the same picture of the universe, unless their linguistic backgrounds are similar or can in some way be calibrated. (Whorf, 1956, pp. 213-214)
   9) The Forms of a Person's Thoughts Are Controlled by Unperceived Patterns of His Own Language
   The forms of a person's thoughts are controlled by inexorable laws of pattern of which he is unconscious. These patterns are the unperceived intricate systematizations of his own language-shown readily enough by a candid comparison and contrast with other languages, especially those of a different linguistic family. (Whorf, 1956, p. 252)
   10) The Analysis of Certain Types of Utterances
   It has come to be commonly held that many utterances which look like statements are either not intended at all, or only intended in part, to record or impart straightforward information about the facts. . . . Many traditional philosophical perplexities have arisen through a mistake-the mistake of taking as straightforward statements of fact utterances which are either (in interesting non-grammatical ways) nonsensical or else intended as something quite different. (Austin, 1962, pp. 2-3)
   11) The Dictionary of a Language Is a System of Concepts
   In general, one might define a complex of semantic components connected by logical constants as a concept. The dictionary of a language is then a system of concepts in which a phonological form and certain syntactic and morphological characteristics are assigned to each concept. This system of concepts is structured by several types of relations. It is supplemented, furthermore, by redundancy or implicational rules . . . , representing general properties of the whole system of concepts. . . . At least a relevant part of these general rules is not bound to particular languages, but represents presumably universal structures of natural languages. They are not learned, but are rather a part of the human ability to acquire an arbitrary natural language. (Bierwisch, 1970, pp. 171-172)
   12) Talk about the Evolution of the Language Capacity is Beside the Point
   In studying the evolution of mind, we cannot guess to what extent there are physically possible alternatives to, say, transformational generative grammar, for an organism meeting certain other physical conditions characteristic of humans. Conceivably, there are none-or very few-in which case talk about evolution of the language capacity is beside the point. (Chomsky, 1972, p. 98)
   13) The Development of Language
   [It is] truth value rather than syntactic well-formedness that chiefly governs explicit verbal reinforcement by parents-which renders mildly paradoxical the fact that the usual product of such a training schedule is an adult whose speech is highly grammatical but not notably truthful. (R. O. Brown, 1973, p. 330)
   14) Sentential and Conceptual Levels in Language
   [T]he conceptual base is responsible for formally representing the concepts underlying an utterance. . . . A given word in a language may or may not have one or more concepts underlying it. . . . On the sentential level, the utterances of a given language are encoded within a syntactic structure of that language. The basic construction of the sentential level is the sentence.
   The next highest level . . . is the conceptual level. We call the basic construction of this level the conceptualization. A conceptualization consists of concepts and certain relations among those concepts. We can consider that both levels exist at the same point in time and that for any unit on one level, some corresponding realizate exists on the other level. This realizate may be null or extremely complex. . . . Conceptualizations may relate to other conceptualizations by nesting or other specified relationships. (Schank, 1973, pp. 191-192)
   15) Linguistic Realities Have Not Yet Been Captured by Theoretical Models
   The mathematics of multi-dimensional interactive spaces and lattices, the projection of "computer behavior" on to possible models of cerebral functions, the theoretical and mechanical investigation of artificial intelligence, are producing a stream of sophisticated, often suggestive ideas.
   But it is, I believe, fair to say that nothing put forward until now in either theoretic design or mechanical mimicry comes even remotely in reach of the most rudimentary linguistic realities. (Steiner, 1975, p. 284)
   16) The Final Steps to Human Language
   The step from the simple tool to the master tool, a tool to make tools (what we would now call a machine tool), seems to me indeed to parallel the final step to human language, which I call reconstitution. It expresses in a practical and social context the same understanding of hierarchy, and shows the same analysis by function as a basis for synthesis. (Bronowski, 1977, pp. 127-128)
   17) The Inadequacy of Formal Linguistic Models for Ordinary Language Usage
   t is the [i]language donn eґ in which we conduct our lives. . . . We have no other. And the danger is that formal linguistic models, in their loosely argued analogy with the axiomatic structure of the mathematical sciences, may block perception. . . . It is quite conceivable that, in language, continuous induction from simple, elemental units to more complex, realistic forms is not justified. The extent and formal "undecidability" of context-and every linguistic particle above the level of the phoneme is context-bound-may make it impossible, except in the most abstract, meta-linguistic sense, to pass from "pro-verbs," "kernals," or "deep deep structures" to actual speech. (Steiner, 1975, pp. 111-113)
   18) When a Language Is an Abstract Machine
   A higher-level formal language is an abstract machine. (Weizenbaum, 1976, p. 113)
   19) Metaphor and Metonymy Underpin the Formation of Linguistic Signs
   Jakobson sees metaphor and metonymy as the characteristic modes of binarily opposed polarities which between them underpin the two-fold process of selection and combination by which linguistic signs are formed. . . . Thus messages are constructed, as Saussure said, by a combination of a "horizontal" movement, which combines words together, and a "vertical" movement, which selects the particular words from the available inventory or "inner storehouse" of the language. The combinative (or syntagmatic) process manifests itself in contiguity (one word being placed next to another) and its mode is metonymic. The selective (or associative) process manifests itself in similarity (one word or concept being "like" another) and its mode is metaphoric. The "opposition" of metaphor and metonymy therefore may be said to represent in effect the essence of the total opposition between the synchronic mode of language (its immediate, coexistent, "vertical" relationships) and its diachronic mode (its sequential, successive, lineal progressive relationships). (Hawkes, 1977, pp. 77-78)
   20) Language and the Analysis of Nature
   It is striking that the layered structure that man has given to language constantly reappears in his analyses of nature. (Bronowski, 1977, p. 121)
   21) Correspondence Rules for Mapping Old Theory into Subsets of New Theory
   First, [an ideal intertheoretic reduction] provides us with a set of rules"correspondence rules" or "bridge laws," as the standard vernacular has it-which effect a mapping of the terms of the old theory (T o) onto a subset of the expressions of the new or reducing theory (T n). These rules guide the application of those selected expressions of T n in the following way: we are free to make singular applications of their correspondencerule doppelgangers in T o. . . .
   Second, and equally important, a successful reduction ideally has the outcome that, under the term mapping effected by the correspondence rules, the central principles of T o (those of semantic and systematic importance) are mapped onto general sentences of T n that are theorems of Tn . (P. Churchland, 1979, p. 81)
   22) The Inclusion of Non-linguistic Factors in a Theory of Grammar
   If non-linguistic factors must be included in grammar: beliefs, attitudes, etc. [this would] amount to a rejection of the initial idealization of language as an object of study. A priori such a move cannot be ruled out, but it must be empirically motivated. If it proves to be correct, I would conclude that language is a chaos that is not worth studying. . . . Note that the question is not whether beliefs or attitudes, and so on, play a role in linguistic behavior and linguistic judgments . . . [but rather] whether distinct cognitive structures can be identified, which interact in the real use of language and linguistic judgments, the grammatical system being one of these. (Chomsky, 1979, pp. 140, 152-153)
   23) Language Is Inevitably Influenced by Specific Contexts of Human Interaction
   Language cannot be studied in isolation from the investigation of "rationality." It cannot afford to neglect our everyday assumptions concerning the total behavior of a reasonable person. . . . An integrational linguistics must recognize that human beings inhabit a communicational space which is not neatly compartmentalized into language and nonlanguage. . . . It renounces in advance the possibility of setting up systems of forms and meanings which will "account for" a central core of linguistic behavior irrespective of the situation and communicational purposes involved. (Harris, 1981, p. 165)
   24) The Genetic Blueprints of Language
   By innate [linguistic knowledge], Chomsky simply means "genetically programmed." He does not literally think that children are born with language in their heads ready to be spoken. He merely claims that a "blueprint is there, which is brought into use when the child reaches a certain point in her general development. With the help of this blueprint, she analyzes the language she hears around her more readily than she would if she were totally unprepared for the strange gabbling sounds which emerge from human mouths. (Aitchison, 1987, p. 31)
   25) Languages Are Machines
   Looking at ourselves from the computer viewpoint, we cannot avoid seeing that natural language is our most important "programming language." This means that a vast portion of our knowledge and activity is, for us, best communicated and understood in our natural language. . . . One could say that natural language was our first great original artifact and, since, as we increasingly realize, languages are machines, so natural language, with our brains to run it, was our primal invention of the universal computer. One could say this except for the sneaking suspicion that language isn't something we invented but something we became, not something we constructed but something in which we created, and recreated, ourselves. (Leiber, 1991, p. 8)

Historical dictionary of quotations in cognitive science. . 2015.

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