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Edward Sapir Quotes

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Edward Sapir Quote: “Nonverbal communication is an elaborate secret code that is written nowhere, known by none, and understood by all.”

Nonverbal communication is an elaborate secret code that is written nowhere, known by none, and understood by all.

— Edward Sapir



Edward Sapir Quote: “Language is an anonymous, collective and unconscious art; the result of the creativity of thousands of generations.”

Language is an anonymous, collective and unconscious art; the result of the creativity of thousands of generations.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “A firm, for instance, that does business in many countries of the world is driven to spend an enormous amount of time, labour, and money in providing for translation services.”

A firm, for instance, that does business in many countries of the world is driven to spend an enormous amount of time, labour, and money in providing for translation services.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “Language is the most massive and inclusive art we know, a mountainous and anonymous work of unconscious generations.”

Language is the most massive and inclusive art we know, a mountainous and anonymous work of unconscious generations.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation.”

We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “Were a language ever completely “grammatical” it would be a perfect engine of conceptual expression. Unfortunately, or luckily, no language is tyrannically consistent. All grammars leak.”

Were a language ever completely “grammatical” it would be a perfect engine of conceptual expression. Unfortunately, or luckily, no language is tyrannically consistent. All grammars leak.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “In a sense, every form of expression is imposed upon one by social factors, one’s own language above all.”

In a sense, every form of expression is imposed upon one by social factors, one’s own language above all.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “Cultural anthropology is more and more rapidly getting to realize itself as a strictly historical science.”

Cultural anthropology is more and more rapidly getting to realize itself as a strictly historical science.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “English, once accepted as an international language, is no more secure than French has proved to be as the one and only accepted language of diplomacy or as Latin has proved to be as the international language of science.”

English, once accepted as an international language, is no more secure than French has proved to be as the one and only accepted language of diplomacy or as Latin has proved to be as the international language of science.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “The fact of the matter is that the ‘real world’ is to a large extent unconsciously built up on the language habits of the group.”

The fact of the matter is that the ‘real world’ is to a large extent unconsciously built up on the language habits of the group.

— Edward Sapir



Edward Sapir Quote: “What fetters the mind and benumbs the spirit is ever the dogged acceptance of absolutes.”

What fetters the mind and benumbs the spirit is ever the dogged acceptance of absolutes.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “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.”

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.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “Fashion is custom in the guise of departure from custom.”

Fashion is custom in the guise of departure from custom.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “Human beings do not live in the objective 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.”

Human beings do not live in the objective 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.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “No two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered as representing the same social reality.”

No two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered as representing the same social reality.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “It is no secret that the fruits of language study are in no sort of relation to the labour spent on teaching and learning them.”

It is no secret that the fruits of language study are in no sort of relation to the labour spent on teaching and learning them.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “It would, of course, be hopeless to attempt to crowd into an international language all those local overtones of meaning which are so dear to the heart of the nationalist.”

It would, of course, be hopeless to attempt to crowd into an international language all those local overtones of meaning which are so dear to the heart of the nationalist.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “No important national language, at least in the Occidental world, has complete regularity of grammatical structure, nor is there a single logical category which is adequately and consistently handled in terms of linguistic symbolism.”

No important national language, at least in the Occidental world, has complete regularity of grammatical structure, nor is there a single logical category which is adequately and consistently handled in terms of linguistic symbolism.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “More and more, unsolicited gifts from without are likely to be received with unconscious resentment.”

More and more, unsolicited gifts from without are likely to be received with unconscious resentment.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “Comparison of statements made at different periods frequently enable us to give maximal and minimal dates to the appearance of a cultural element or to assign the time limits to a movement of population.”

Comparison of statements made at different periods frequently enable us to give maximal and minimal dates to the appearance of a cultural element or to assign the time limits to a movement of population.

— Edward Sapir



Edward Sapir Quote: “The psychology of a language which, in one way or another, is imposed upon one because of factors beyond one’s control, is very different from the psychology of a language which one accepts of one’s free will.”

The psychology of a language which, in one way or another, is imposed upon one because of factors beyond one’s control, is very different from the psychology of a language which one accepts of one’s free will.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “Human beings do not wish to be modest; they want to be as expressive – that is, as immodest – as fear allows; fashion helps them solve that paradoxical problem.”

Human beings do not wish to be modest; they want to be as expressive – that is, as immodest – as fear allows; fashion helps them solve that paradoxical problem.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “A logical analysis of reflexive usages in French shows, however, that this simplicity is an illusion and that, so far from helping the foreigner, it is more calculated to bother him.”

A logical analysis of reflexive usages in French shows, however, that this simplicity is an illusion and that, so far from helping the foreigner, it is more calculated to bother him.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “Cultural anthropology is not valuable because it uncovers the archaic in the psychological sense. It is valuable because it is constantly rediscovering the normal.”

Cultural anthropology is not valuable because it uncovers the archaic in the psychological sense. It is valuable because it is constantly rediscovering the normal.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “National languages are all huge systems of vested interests which sullenly resist critical inquiry.”

National languages are all huge systems of vested interests which sullenly resist critical inquiry.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “The spirit of logical analysis should in practice blend with the practical pressure for the adoption of some form of international language, but it should not allow itself to be stampeded by it.”

The spirit of logical analysis should in practice blend with the practical pressure for the adoption of some form of international language, but it should not allow itself to be stampeded by it.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “A standard international language should not only be simple, regular, and logical, but also rich and creative.”

A standard international language should not only be simple, regular, and logical, but also rich and creative.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “I am convinced that the stratigraphic method will in the future enable archaeology to throw far more light on the history of American culture than it has done in the past.”

I am convinced that the stratigraphic method will in the future enable archaeology to throw far more light on the history of American culture than it has done in the past.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “Both French and Latin are involved with nationalistic and religious implications which could not be entirely shaken off, and so, while they seemed for a long time to have solved the international language problem up to a certain point, they did not really do so in spirit.”

Both French and Latin are involved with nationalistic and religious implications which could not be entirely shaken off, and so, while they seemed for a long time to have solved the international language problem up to a certain point, they did not really do so in spirit.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “These examples of the lack of simplicity in English and French, all appearances to the contrary, could be multiplied almost without limit and apply to all national languages.”

These examples of the lack of simplicity in English and French, all appearances to the contrary, could be multiplied almost without limit and apply to all national languages.

— Edward Sapir



Edward Sapir Quote: “So far as the advocates of a constructed international language are concerned, it is rather to be wondered at how much in common their proposals actually have, both in vocabulary and in general spirit of procedure.”

So far as the advocates of a constructed international language are concerned, it is rather to be wondered at how much in common their proposals actually have, both in vocabulary and in general spirit of procedure.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “Impatience translates itself into a desire to have something immediate done about it all, and, as is generally the case with impatience, resolves itself in the easiest way that lies ready to hand.”

Impatience translates itself into a desire to have something immediate done about it all, and, as is generally the case with impatience, resolves itself in the easiest way that lies ready to hand.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “A common creation demands a common sacrifice, and perhaps not the least potent argument in favour of a constructed international language is the fact that it is equally foreign, or apparently so, to the traditions of all nationalities.”

A common creation demands a common sacrifice, and perhaps not the least potent argument in favour of a constructed international language is the fact that it is equally foreign, or apparently so, to the traditions of all nationalities.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “As a matter of fact, a national language which spreads beyond its own confines very quickly loses much of its original richness of content and is in no better case than a constructed language.”

As a matter of fact, a national language which spreads beyond its own confines very quickly loses much of its original richness of content and is in no better case than a constructed language.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “The attitude of independence toward a constructed language which all national speakers must adopt is really a great advantage, because it tends to make man see himself as the master of language instead of its obedient servant.”

The attitude of independence toward a constructed language which all national speakers must adopt is really a great advantage, because it tends to make man see himself as the master of language instead of its obedient servant.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “A second type of direct evidence is formed by statements, whether as formal legends or personal information, regarding the age or relative sequence of events in tribal history made by the natives themselves.”

A second type of direct evidence is formed by statements, whether as formal legends or personal information, regarding the age or relative sequence of events in tribal history made by the natives themselves.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “A common allegiance to form of expression that is identified with no single national unit is likely to prove one of the most potent symbols of the freedom of the human spirit that the world has yet known.”

A common allegiance to form of expression that is identified with no single national unit is likely to prove one of the most potent symbols of the freedom of the human spirit that the world has yet known.

— Edward Sapir


Edward Sapir Quote: “One of the glories of English simplicity is the possibility of using the same word as noun and verb.”

One of the glories of English simplicity is the possibility of using the same word as noun and verb.

— Edward Sapir

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