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Peter Farb Quotes
Brief author info: Peter Farb (1929-1980) American linguist, anthropologist, author.
Showing: 1 - 10 Peter Farb Quotes of 17
People who speak the same language can hate one another as easily as can people who speak unrelated languages.
Men in all societies possess the biological equipment to remove their hats or shoes, but it is the birth within a particular culture that decides that a Jew will keep his hat and shoes on in his place of worship, a Mohammedan will take off his shoes, and a Christian will keep his shoes on but remove his hat.
Language does not stand still. Surprisingly, despite this knowledge, most speakers are fearful of change.
No child is capable of speech until he has heard other human beings speak, and even two infants reared together cannot develop a language from scratch.
Gestures and facial expressions do indeed communicate, as anyone can prove by turning off the sound on a television set and asking watchers to characterize the speakers from the picture alone.
An inability to communicate has little to do with international friction-as is seen in the special ferocity of wars fought between people who speak the same language.
Speakers who have grown up in the American community unconsciously know its rules about taking turns in conversations-in the same way that they know the rules of grammar and the rules about appropriate speech in various situations.
At every moment of his life the Shoshone must be careful to observe the complicated folkways of his group, to do reverence to superhuman powers, to remember the courtesies and obligations of family, to pay homage to certain sacred plants, or to avoid particular places.
Despite the theories traditionally taught in high-school social studies, the truth is: the more primitive the society, the more leisured its way of life.
The dictionary is a closed system in which someone interested in the meaning of a word can go around and around and end up exactly where he started, simply because words are defined in terms of other words, and these, in turn, are defined in terms of still other words.
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