I offer for consideration a few sayings - some that originated in other languages - that shouldn't necessarily be taken at face value:
n "It goes without saying that ... "
No, it doesn't. If it did, we wouldn't be discussing it.
n "A picture is worth 1,000 words." (Confucius)
So why do we remember Confucius' words but not his pictures?
n "The pen is mightier than the sword." (Edward Bulwer-Lytton)
It depends on the circumstance. Pens convince; swords persuade. (Yes, Virginia, there is a difference.)
The efficacy of both tools, of course, varies with who is holding them.
n "Music is only love looking for words." (Lawrence Durrell)
Sometimes, but other times words are only love looking for music.
n "Words are a wonderful form of communication, but they will never replace kisses and punches." (Ashleigh Brilliant)
Words are preferable to kisses and punches when dealing with bosses, store clerks and strangers asking for directions. Kisses are effective for relatives and children, and punches usually should be reserved for taxi drivers, IRS agents and mimes.
n "Where words fail, music speaks." (Hans Christian Andersen)
Maybe we should ask Confucius, then, why we remember Andersen's stories and not his musical scores.
n "Men of few words are the best men." (Shakespeare)
Feel free to indict yourself, Will, but I still like Jesus, St. Paul and Dr. King.
n "Silence is more eloquent than words." (Thomas Carlyle)
The hour and 58 minutes by which Lincoln's Gettysburg address was shorter than Edward Everett's is powerful, but only because of what Lincoln said in two minutes.
There are some words about words that I heartily endorse, of course:
n "Fools live to regret their words, wise men to regret their silence." (William Henry)
n "One of the disadvantages of wine is that it makes men mistake words for thoughts." (Dr. Samuel Johnson)
n "There's great power in words, if you don't hitch too many of them together." (Josh Billings)
n "Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words." (St. Francis of Assisi)
Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or email@example.com.