BRIDGET WHELAN writer

for writers and readers….

Why Words are Pretty Inadequate Most of the Time – Samuel Butler QUOTES FOR WRITERS

WE WANT WORDS to do more than they can. We try to do with them what comes to very much like trying to mend a watch with a pickaxe or to paint a minature with a mop; we expect them to help us to grip and dissect that which is an ultimate essence and is as ungrippable as shadow.
Nevertheless, there they are; we have got to live with them, and the wise course is to treat them as we do our neighbours, and make the best and not the worst of them.
Samuel Butler

Photo Credit: Heather Zabriskie 

5 comments on “Why Words are Pretty Inadequate Most of the Time – Samuel Butler QUOTES FOR WRITERS

  1. Sarah Waldock
    June 5, 2022

    alas words can sometimes also betray us and this arrives in good time to confess that not half an hour ago, when discussing the ship ‘Graf Spey;’ with my husband, also an historian, I tried to say ‘pocket battleship’ and it came out ‘packet bottleship.’ My husband wanted to know if that was a Post Office packet boat indulging in ‘bottle fishing’ as an euphemism for smuggling… ah, the embarrassment of Spoonerisms.
    How lucky we are with English, and its many layers, and many synonyms and near synonyms gained from our habit as a nation of pursuing other languages down dark alleys and mugging them for spare vocabulary, for we come very close to being able to wield language with the delicacy of a scalpel at need of precision and subtlety, or to use it to bombard and strike with force and thunderous detonation.

    • bridget whelan
      June 5, 2022

      I love the phrase “pursuing other languages down down dark alleys and mugging them for spare vocabulary” You’ve provided your ow examples of how powerful English can be

  2. Glen Available
    June 5, 2022

    Geez that guy was wise!

    • bridget whelan
      June 5, 2022

      And his imagery is delicious.
      …Painting a minature with a mop…

  3. Rae Longest
    June 19, 2022

    Reblogged this on Literacy and Me.

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This entry was posted on June 5, 2022 by in Quotes and tagged , , .
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