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The Grammarians

Cathleen Schine

Top 10 Best Quotes

“He flipped through the biggest book imaginable, the dictionary, a book that contained and explained every word in the language, he said. The print was so small it looked like print for a mouse to read.”

“There were not words for what she felt, the depth of the emptiness, the breadth of the emptiness, the emptiness of the emptiness. Words could only cloak what she felt. Words were supposed to illuminate and clarify. Words were meant to communicate and and feelings from one person to another. But today words stood numb and in the way.”

“The word is "love," the story tells her, but she says No, that is nonsense. "Love" is a four-letter word, the story says, but Sally says, No, you are missing the point. There is no word, just words, lots and lots of them, a universe of words, galaxies of them”

“Words and students, Laurel thought—they could be recalcitrant, out of order, trying to slip by without being noticed. But once you got them working together, unobtrusive and efficient, it was beautiful.”

“Why does ignorance make you feel superior, Daphne? Laurel thinks.”

“What if the blue I see is different than the blue you see?” one of you says in the morning. “The blue is the same, and our eyes are the same. So no way,” says the other of you. Twins in literature are always disguised as each other, or they are sleeping with each other. The banality of “twin sweater sets” cannot make up for Siegmund and Sieglinde. You think that later, of course, much later, when no one wears sweater sets anymore and you have just read a disturbing story by Thomas Mann. “But what if we both call it blue and it’s really a different color but we both have always called it blue so we think we’re seeing the same color but we’re not?” says one of you. “Blue is blue,” the other of you says. “What I see as blue might be what you see as green. We don’t know. You’re not in my eyes. I’m not in your eyes.”

“Once, just once, Sally had suggested that Daphne worked too hard. "And now with this big house. . ."    Daphne had turned to the house, looked up at the three narrow stories, and said, "Only in New York would this be considered a big house. It has one bathroom." She turned back to her mother. "One bathroom," she said, in a kind of wonder.”

“It is difficult to notice your faces beyond that, partly because of the dazzling red hair but mostly because there are two of you. You understand this when you are older, when someone brings too many gifts to a birthday party or too many bottles of good wine to a dinner party, and the presents and the wine are undervalued in their own abundance. You are indistinct, undervalued in your own abundance. Sometimes”

“His point is, informal English is not wrong, and some of it stems from models older than 'standard' English, and he always puts 'standard' in quotes because there is no standard English, language keeps changing. And to understand language and teach it, you have to know what is actually spoken.”

“Don was called Don Thumb throughout school. Maybe that was why Don was such a touchy son of a bitch.”

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Book Keywords:

language, love, word, grief, words, grammar

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