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Quotations about Speaking

Related Quotes      Brevity      Listening      Speeches      Silence      Relationships

Refrain from uprooting your thoughts and flinging them into language; let be, they may grow fruit. ~Henry Stanley Haskins, "Thought," Meditations in Wall Street, 1940

To speak and to speak well are two things. A fool may talk, but a wise man speaks. ~Ben Jonson

He has achieved a high measure of self-mastery who controls the invisible conduit extending from his ear to his tongue. ~L. J. Muir, Muir's Thesaurus of Truths: A Volume of Master Quotations Arranged in Symposia, Selected and Classified by Leo J. Muir and Geo. Muir, Jr., 1937

The man's oratory could kill flies in midair... ~Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind, 2001, translated from Spanish by Lucia Graves, 2004

Watch your own speech, and notice how it is guided by your less conscious purposes... ~George Eliot, "Borne Along by the Tide," The Mill on the Floss, 1860

If you wouldn't write it and sign it, don't say it. ~Earl Wilson

It's often very expensive to think out loud. ~Minna Thomas Antrim (1861–1950), Knocks Witty, Wise and —, 1905

Their conversation is like a gently wicked dance.... we watch their faces, their hands, their feet, and listen for truth in timbre. ~Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye, 1970

An energy crisis will never stop motor-mouths. ~Raven's Ravings, c.1979

Of those who say nothing, few are silent. ~Thomas Neill

I like to think of myself as a finely-aged wine, and one thing that keeps a wine finely-aged is to put a cork in it. ~Robert Brault,

The older I grow the more I listen to people who don't talk much. ~Germain G. Glien

To be able to ask a question clearly is two-thirds of the way to getting it answered. ~John Ruskin

By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach. ~Winston Churchill

The kindest word in all the world is the unkind word, unsaid. ~Author Unknown

Well, putting things candidly (as I generally do when nothing is to be gained by putting them otherwise)... ~John Hill, The Waters of Marah, 1883

Talking is like playing on the harp; there is as much in laying the hands on the strings to stop their vibration as in twanging them to bring out their music. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

People have to talk about something just to keep their voice boxes in working order so they'll have good voice boxes in case there's ever anything really meaningful to say. ~Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Cat's Cradle

Euphemisms are unpleasant truths wearing diplomatic cologne. ~Quentin Crisp

Well-timed silence hath more eloquence than speech. ~Martin Farquhar Tupper, "Of Discretion," Proverbial Philosophy

The true genius shudders at incompleteness — and usually prefers silence to saying something which is not everything it should be. ~Edgar Allan Poe

The trouble with talking too fast is you may say something you haven't thought of yet. ~Ann Landers

Everything becomes a little different as soon as it is spoken out loud. ~Hermann Hesse

When you say a really good thing, stop. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1903, George Horace Lorimer, editor

The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment. ~Dorothy Nevill

The easiest way to save face is to keep the lower half shut. ~Author Unknown

Even a fish wouldn't get into trouble if he kept his mouth shut. ~Author Unknown

The teeth form a barrier to check wanton words. ~Aulus Gellius

Among my most prized possessions are words that I have never spoken. ~Orson Rega Card

Be careful of your thoughts; they may become words at any moment. ~Ira Gassen

Don't argue; the best argument has one weakness: it admits of reply. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1908, George Horace Lorimer, editor

Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute. ~Josh Billings

She resumed speaking, after a pause that testified eloquently to the depth of her emotion... ~Eugene Field, "The Mouse and the Moonbeam," 1888  [Mauve Mouse, sister of Squeaknibble. A little altered. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Foolishness always results when the tongue outraces the brain. ~Author Unknown

Many talk as easily as they breathe, and with quite as little thought. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

Many a man's profanity has saved him from a nervous breakdown. ~Henry Stanley Haskins, "New England's Accents," Meditations in Wall Street, 1940

The words you choose to say something are just as important as the decision to speak. ~Author Unknown

Saying the wrong thing is misfortune; but trying to explain it is disaster. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1903, George Horace Lorimer, editor

Among provocatives, the next best thing to good preaching is bad preaching. I have even more thoughts during or enduring it than at other times. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let a fool hold his tongue and he will pass for a sage. ~Publilius Syrus

A profound man thinks more easily than he talks; a shallow one talks more easily than he thinks. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

Lucy put out her hand as if to ward his words away... ~Florence Bone (1875–1971), The Morning of To‑Day, 1907

An inability to stay quiet is one of the conspicuous failings of mankind. ~Walter Bagehot

It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it. ~Maurice Switzer, 1906 (Thanks, Garson O'Toole of!)

Many preachers shine in the pulpit who lose their brilliancy in common conversation. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

I am annoyed by individuals who are embarrassed by pauses in a conversation. To me, every conversational pause refreshes. ~George Sanders

Isn't it surprising how many things, if not said immediately, seem not worth saying ten minutes from now? ~Arnot L. Sheppard, Jr.

It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood. ~Karl Popper, Unended Quest

If something goes without saying, let it. ~Author Unknown

Drawing on my fine command of language, I said nothing. ~Attributed to Robert Benchley by Evan Esar in 1949, however a similar saying already existed c.1920 (

I'm not a dull speaker, I'm a bad speaker, I'm a wretched speaker. The tape of my unprepared speech differs from my written prose as much as the worm differs from the perfect insect — or, as I once put it, I think like a genius, I write like a distinguished author, and I speak like a child.... My hemmings and hawings over the telephone cause long-distance callers to switch from their native English to pathetic French. At parties, if I attempt to entertain people with a good story, I have to go back to every other sentence for oral erasures and inserts. Even the dream I describe to my wife across the breakfast table is only a first draft. In these circumstances nobody should ask me to submit to an interview if by "interview" a chat between two normal human beings is implied. ~Vladimir Nabokov  [This is not actually a full quotation that you will find anywhere. It is a mash-up from two different sources but both by Nabokov, part from a 1977 BBC interview with Robert Robinson and the remainder from Nabokov's 1973 foreword to Strong Opinions. They do, however, share an overlapping sentence. And this, my dear Mr Nabokov, fits my INFJ personality to a T! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker. A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker. ~Author Unknown

Don't tell your friends about your indigestions: "How are you!" is a greeting, not a question. ~Arthur Guiterman, A Poet's Proverbs

Once a word has been allowed to escape, it cannot be recalled. ~Horace

Don't speak unless you can improve on the silence. ~Spanish Proverb

One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say. ~Will Durant

As a gardener, I wonder if flowers really can't speak or just exercise unfailing good judgment in the matter. ~Robert Brault,

If writers wrote as carelessly as some people talk, then adhasdh asdglaseuyt[bn[ pasdlgkhasdfasdf. ~Lemony Snicket

The man was on his knees, trying to retrieve each of his ugly words that were now scattered on the floor. But, of course, it was too late. ~Dr. SunWolf,

Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact—from calling on us to look through a heap of millet-seed in order to be sure that there is no pearl in it. ~George Eliot, Impressions of Theophrastus Such, 1879

Let papers speak and beards be silent. ~Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

Calvin: Sometimes when I'm talking, my words can't keep up with my thoughts. I wonder why we think faster than we speak.
Hobbes: Probably so we can think twice.
~Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes

Not the fastest horse can catch a word spoken in anger. ~Chinese Proverb

I never make the mistake of arguing with people for whose opinions I have no respect. ~Edward Gibbon

Does it seem sometimes that you are always the one to break an embarrassing silence — and always by saying something more embarrassing than the silence? ~Robert Brault,

Never miss a good chance to shut up. ~Will Rogers (1879–1935)

One way to prevent conversation from being boring is to say the wrong thing. ~Frank Sheed

I learned an important lesson in the art of debate. Present your argument clearly, arm yourself with cutting wit and of course, bob and weave! ~Animal Crossing: Wild World (Nintendo video game) written by Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka, and Toshihiro Kawabata

Talk to people about themselves and they will listen for hours. ~Benjamin Disraeli

Let us not look east and west for materials of conversation, but rest in presence and unity. A just feeling will fast enough supply fuel for discourse, if speaking be more grateful than silence. When people come to see us, we foolishly prattle, lest we be inhospitable. But things said for conversation are chalk eggs. Don't say things. What you are stands over you the while, and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Letters and Social Aims," 1875, paraphrased over the years to the commonly quoted version "What you do speaks so loud, that I cannot hear what you say." (Thanks, Garson O'Toole of!)

Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; argument an exchange of ignorance. ~Robert Quillen

Coolidge was known for his terse speech and reticence. A woman bet her friend that she could get Coolidge to speak to her, which was something he was reluctant to do. She went up to him and said: "Hello, Mr. President, I bet my friend that I could get you to say three words to me." "You lose," Coolidge replied dryly, and walked away. ~Author Unknown

There is never an embarrassing silence that can't be turned into a regrettable conversation. ~Robert Brault,

The difference between a smart man and a wise man is that a smart man knows what to say, a wise man knows whether or not to say it. ~Frank M. Garafola

I just wish my mouth had a backspace key. ~Author Unknown

No man would listen to you talk if he didn't know it was his turn next. ~E.W. Howe

He's a wonderful talker, who has the art of telling you nothing in a great harangue. ~Jean Baptiste Molière, Le Misanthrope

The trouble with her is that she lacks the power of conversation but not the power of speech. ~George Bernard Shaw

If you keep your mouth shut you will never put your foot in it. ~Austin O'Malley

If everybody thought before they spoke, the silence would be deafening. ~George Barzan

Man does not live by words alone, despite the fact that sometimes he has to eat them. ~Adlai Stevenson

In the course of my life, I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet. ~Winston Churchill

The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't being said. ~Author Unknown

He must be a poor creature that does not often repeat himself. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

The best way to keep one's word is not to give it. ~Napoleon I, Maxims

Keep your words soft and tender because tomorrow you may have to eat them. ~Author Unknown

Always and never are two words you should always remember never to use. ~Wendell Johnson

Talk is cheap because supply exceeds demand. ~Author Unknown

Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference. ~Author unknown, attributed to Mark Twain

When you're arguing with a fool, make sure he isn't doing the same thing. ~Author Unknown

Oh, the things that go through my mind that I never say. Oh, the things I say that never go through my mind. ~Robert Brault,

Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut. ~Ernest Hemingway

...Shall I go on?
Or have I said enough?...
~John Milton, "Comus, A Mask"

Dialogue vs. Monologue Quotes

And there is monologue disguised as dialogue, in which two or more men, meeting in space, speak each with himself in strangely tortuous and circuitous ways and yet imagine they have escaped the torment of being thrown back on their own resources. ~Martin Buber (1878—1965), translated from German

There is no such thing as conversation. It is an illusion. There are intersecting monologues, that is all. ~Rebecca West, "There is No Conversation," 1934

As a matter of fact, have you never noticed that most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of a witness? ~Margaret Millar, The Weak-Eyed Bat, 1942

A dialogue is not made up of two monologues. ~Howard E. Short, quoted in United Church Herald, 1967

Now, you indicate to me that you really see that as communication going back and forth rather than simply individual expression. But communication is assumed to be a dialogue between people, not two monologues. ~Quoted in Howard Stein, A Time to Speak, 1974

Basically you are like two parallel lines which never meet. Dialogue seems to be impossible. All is monologue — you are talking to yourself and the other is talking to himself. Two monologues together look like a dialogue only in appearance. ~Osho, The Revolution: Talks on Kabir, 1979

Two monologues do not make a dialogue. ~Noel de Nevers, c. 1989

But real dialogue is here continually hidden in all kinds of odd corners and, occasionally in an unseemly way, breaks surface surprisingly and inopportunely — certainly still oftener it is arrogantly tolerated than downright scandalizing — as in the tone of a railway guard's voice, in the glance of an old newspaper vendor, in the smile of the chimney-sweeper. ~Martin Buber, translated from German

That peoples can no longer carry on authentic dialogue with one another is not only the most acute symptom of the pathology of our time, it is also that which most urgently makes a demand of us. ~Martin Buber (1878—1965)

But monologue disguised as dialogue is the great dissembler that masquerades as the interhuman. ~Maurice Friedman, Martin Buber's Life and Work, 1981

I hope there were no listeners within earshot, as I am sure the dialogue, or, more properly speaking, the two monologues, they would have heard — (for we spoke both together, neither of us paying the slightest attention to what the other was saying!) — must have been supremely ridiculous! He poured forth a perfect rigmarole of sentimental heroics; whilst I was equally voluble in angry remonstrance! ~Illustrated News, 1863  [Thanks a million to Garson O'Toole for this quotation. —tg]

Speech is thinking aloud. Soliloquy is thinking aloud to one's self... Since the soul is conversant with its own reasonings, why speak?... In the normal state of soul, when life is oppressed, when the vastest issues break like angry oceans in the spirit — then thoughts seem bent on uttering themselves. Soliloquy is natural to Hamlet as turbulence to the seas. His conversations are monologues. He takes other men's words as points of departure. He deals in dissertations, not conversations... If Hamlet fell into soliloquy as naturally as stars fall with flash-light to the earth at night, yet is he still more the brooder than the soliloquizer... Hamlet's mood is to think, to dream, rather than speak in whispers even. ~William A. Quayle, "The Soliloquies of Macbeth and Hamlet," The Poet's Poet and Other Essays, 1897

Acknowledgement:  Thank you to Andy for getting this conversation going!

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Last saved 2021 Jan 15 Fri 21:04 PST

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