Edward Sapir Quotes

A quotes list created by Lee Sonogan

UPDATE on SLA Edward Sapir Book Award - Society for Linguistic Anthropology  Society for Linguistic Anthropology

A developer of anthropology first, this linguist uses already learned traditions. To dialectically generate his own cultural patterns that influence each other. Also, a public speaker at many associations and institutes, he had many aesthetic sensibilities. Towards the language drift to many works of innovation. From word relativity to the classification of plenty of indigenous languages as well, he gives me hope within the crafting field.

  • More and more, unsolicited gifts from without are likely to be received with unconscious resentment.
  • Language is the most massive and inclusive art we know, a mountainous and anonymous work of unconscious generations.
  • Nonverbal communication is an elaborate secret code that is written nowhere, known by none, and understood by all.
  • We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation.
  • No two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered as representing the same social reality.
  • In a sense, every form of expression is imposed upon one by social factors, one’s own language above all.
  • 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 would be naïve to imagine that any analysis of experience is dependent on pattern expressed in language. Any concept, whether or not it forms part of the system of grammatical categories, can be conveyed in any language. If a notion is lacking in a given series, it implies a different configuration and not a lack of expressive power.
  • One of the glories of English simplicity is the possibility of using the same word as noun and verb.
  • What fetters the mind and benumbs the spirit is ever the dogged acceptance of absolutes.
  • Cultural anthropology is not valuable because it uncovers the archaic in the psychological sense. It is valuable because it is constantly rediscovering the normal.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Fashion is custom in the guise of departure from custom
  • 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.

As many lists I have put together, this one surely has missed much. Trying to get around to other stuff. You might find yourself finding more definitions needing to become introduced and explored. I’d imagine there are some quote contenders here to be reused in one way or another.




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