Edwin Newman Quotations

Edwin Newman

Abraham Lincoln was on the side of the social scientists when he said, "God must have loved the people of the lower and middle socio-economic status, because he made such a multiplicity of them."

A large part of social scientific practice consists of taking clear ideas and making them opaque.

Few things concentrate the mind more efficiently than the necessity of saying what you mean. It brings you face to face with what you are talking about, what you are actually proposing. It gets you away from the catch phrases that not merely substitute for thought but preclude it.

For a while I thought it clever to ask people who were spattering me with Y'knows why, if I knew, they were telling me? After having lunch alone with some regularity, I dropped the question.

If the speech writer is the enemy of language because he conceals, or in some cases distorts, the politician's personality and talent, so is the public opinion poll, for it also depersonalizes, and anything that depersonalizes is an enemy of language.

Much written and spoken expression these days is equivalent to the background music that incessantly encroaches on us in banks, restaurants, department stores, trains, shops, airports, airplanes, dentists' offices, hospitals, elevators, waiting rooms, hotel lobbies, pools, apartment building lobbies, bars, and, to my personal knowledge, at least one museum. It thumps and tickles away, mechanical, without color, inflection, vigor, charm, or distinction.

Politicians should be encouraged to stand for what they believe in, not to try to smell out the exact mosaic of attitudes and positions that will appeal to the greatest number.

[S]ince nothing is more important to a society than the language it uses -- there would be no society without it -- we would be better off if we spoke and wrote with exactness and grace, and if we preserved, rather than destroyed, the value of language.

The notion that the trouble between generations is caused by a failure in communication may have some merit, but it makes a large and not necessarily justified assumption: that there should be communication and that if there is, things will go better. I am not so sure.