It was almost 100 years ago that Ludwig Wittgenstein, an Austrian-British philosopher, said, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”.
Geoffrey Willans, an English author and journalist, said at around the same period, “You can never understand one language until you understand at least two.”.
Languages belong to the character of man. Words are the expression of the mind!
It is impossible to truly understand other cultures unless one can communicate with its people. Without knowing any other tongues than your own, you have to rely on what other people write (in your own language), including all of their interpretations and biases.
Our hand-picked selection of quotes explores the motivation that has driven some of the greatest philosophers, writers, politicians, and scientists to learn other languages. The quotes are sorted chronologically by birth date of the originator. Enjoy and share with your friends!
The whole art of language consists
in being understood.
politician, and philosopher)
To have another language
is to possess a second soul.
or Charles the Great,
numbered Charles I
King of the Lombards from 774
and Emperor of the Romans from 800)
Knowledge of languages
is the doorway to wisdom.
known as Doctor Mirabilis
who placed considerable emphasis on the study
of nature through empirical methods)
If you know many languages
then you have many keys for a castle.
known by his nom de plume Voltaire
historian, and philosopher)
Language is the dress of thought.
often referred to as Dr. Johnson
to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist,
literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer)
He who knows no foreign languages
knows nothing of his own.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
is so important for a nation’s culture
as its language.
Wilhelm von Humboldt
diplomat, and founder of the Humboldt University of Berlin,
which was named after him in 1949)
Our language is also our history.
Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm
Popularly known as one of the Brothers Grimm)
With each language, you learn
to free yourself
from your trapped spirit.
also known as Freimund Raimar
and professor of Oriental languages
who apparently mastered 44 languages)
With foreign words on our tongue
comes also the foreign spirit into our world.
Carl Theodor Körner