Leaky Grammar

quotes on culture and mind through the kaleidescopic fractals of language (and some surfing thrown in for good measure) the tumblr for my blog at leakygrammar.net

“I talk about the gods, I am an atheist. But I am an artist too, and therefore a liar. Distrust everything I say. I am telling the truth. The only truth I can understand or express is, logically defined, a lie. Psychologically defined, a symbol. Aesthetically defined, a metaphor.”

– ― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

“…a big part of all of us likes getting answers. But we now live in a world where counter-intuitive bullshitting is valorized, where the pose of argument is more important than the actual pursuit of truth, where clever answers take precedence over profound questions. We have no patience for mystery. We want the deciphering of gods. We want oracles. And we want them right now’”

– Ta-Nahesi Coates

Dereck Bickerton's Bastard Tongues »

“Often assigning the status of “native speaker” is based on nonlinguistic factors, such as race, color of skin, place of birth, first name, surname, etc., rather than linguistic competence. Also, some speakers identify themselves either as a native speaker or a nonnative speaker based on identity factors rather than linguistic repertoire. Moreover, in the current state of the world, with the majority of the English-speaking population not being NS, the issue of “nativeness” becomes rather irrelevant.”


"The thing was that earth was the only place in the whole known Universe where language was used. It was a unique Earthling invention. Everybody else used mental telepathy, so Earthlings could get pretty good jobs as language teachers just about anywhere they went.

The reason creatures wanted to use language instead of mental telepathy was that they found out they could get so much more done with language. Language made them so much more active. Mental telepathy, with everybody constantly telling everybody everything, produced a sort of generalized indifference to all information. But language, with its slow, narrow meanings, made it possible to think about one thing at a time - to start thinking in terms of projects.”

– – Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. Cited in Jackendoff, 2012, p. xi

“The starting-point of critical elaboration is the consciousness of what one really is, and is ‘knowing thyself’ as a product of the historical processes to date, which has deposited in you an infinity of traces, without leaving an inventory. Therefore it is imperative at the outset to compile such an inventory.’”

– – Linguist and Philosopher Antonio Gramsci

““language is a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, while all the time we long to move the stars to pity”.”

– Flaubert in Madam Bovary

“In actual fact, it may make as much sense to separate language from other semiotic processes as it does to separate the swaying of the tree branch from the wind that moves it.”

– Leo van Lier