Our Purpose

Quotations.ch helps you find quotations including any word you specify. However, finding quotations is a means to achieve a far greater purpose. Quotations.ch allows you to interact with the mind of any writer you choose and study his or her world of ideas. Quotations.ch also helps you master word usage by enabling you to explore any particular instance of word usage by any writer in the context of the full original text. Through helping you understand different expression styles of various authors, Quotations.ch helps you crystallise a unique expression style of your own.

What makes Quotations different is its immediacy and interactivity. As soon as you have made your author and text selection, or uploaded your texts, any further steps will be near-instantaneous, allowing you to immerse yourself in your favourite literature and engage with your favourite writers on a deeper level.

As you write (use the Writing Aid Tab in the Free or Full Library), you will receive quotations, based on the words in your writing, from the writers in our library. The library is (auto) set to supply you with quotations from Shakespeare; if you wish a different author to be your inspiration, choose any other writer in the Books Tab. We have attempted to make our library as comprehensive as possible (and we are continuing to expand it – see the Books Tab in either Free or Full Library for the list of authors, their works and source texts); as discussed, if the writers you love are not (yet) included in our library, you are welcome to add their texts to Quotations, for your personal use (use Add Text in the Books Tab if the authors that are of interest to you are yet to be included in our library).

Quotations, from your selected writers, for each word in your writing, will appear instantly (note: function words are excluded). If you wish to examine any word in your writing in greater detail, double-click on it, and quotations with all the instances of usage for that word, by the writers of your selection, will be shown. As instantly, by clicking on any quote, you can access the full original text and explore the word usage in a context wider than the single sentence ordinarily found in a dictionary. Alternatively, look up all the cases of usage of any word by any author directly in the Words Tab.

All the words in our library – all the words used by our authors – are linked to a “Wiktionary” entry (see the Words Tab), which will allow you to look up the definition and meaning of any unfamiliar word.

When you start writing, remember the advice that Robert Louis Stevenson gave to a pupil:

“…Never…bother with English grammar.”

R. L. Stevenson (from A. O’Hagan’s Essay on R. L. Stevenson and his Friends, Bournemouth)

Discovering “everything one can” about words

Quotations is about discovering “everything one can” about words – we paraphrase Vladimir Nabokov. The writer tells us:

 “One must draw everything one can from words, because it’s the one real treasure a true writer has. Big general ideas are in yesterday’s newspaper. If I like to take a word and turn it over to see its underside, shiny or dull or adorned with motley hues absent on its upperside, it’s not at all out of idle curiosity, one finds all sorts of curious things by studying the underside of a word – unexpected shadows of other words, harmonies between them, hidden beauties that suddenly reveal something beyond the word. Serious wordplay, as I have in mind, is neither a game of chance nor a mere embellishment of style. It’s a new verbal species that the marvelling author offers to the poor reader, who doesn’t want to look; to the good reader, who suddenly sees a completely new facet of an iridescent sentence.”

V. Nabokov (from an Interview with Bernard Pivot on Apostrophes)

Robert Louis Stevenson gives this advice:

 “Think about the place you love best: a house, a garden, anything you choose. See it first in your own mind, then, when you get home write a short description of it. …If you want me to see your gardens,…don’t, for pity’s sake, talk about “climbing roses” or “green, mossy lawns”. Tell me, if you like, that roses twined themselves around the apple trees and fell in showers from the branches. Never dare to tell me again anything about “green grass”. Tell me how the lawn was flecked with shadows.”

R. L. Stevenson (from A. O’Hagan’s Essay on R. L. Stevenson and his Friends, Bournemouth)

Two very different authors, living in different centuries, emphasize the same principals. “Climbing roses” and “green grass” that Stevenson begs not to mention are Nabokov’s “general ideas…in yesterday’s newspaper”; Stevenson’s “roses…twined themselves around the apple trees and fell in showers from the branches” is Nabokov’s “iridescent sentence” that makes you “see” the “garden”.

Stevenson also tells us:

“In anything fit to be called by the name of reading, the process itself should be absorbing and voluptuous; we should gloat over a book, be rapt clean out of ourselves, and rise from the perusal, our mind filled with the busiest, kaleidoscopic dance of images, incapable of sleep or of continuous thought. The words, if the book be eloquent, should run thenceforward in our ears like the noise of breakers, and the story, if it be a story, repeat itself in a thousand coloured pictures to the eye.”

R. L. Stevenson (A Gossip on Romance, Memories and Portraits)

You may not want to write about gardens or roses, you may, even, not care about writing. Understanding and mastering word usage is about precision of expression and clarity of thought however you express yourself. And then, anything that you write or say will “absorb” your readers or listeners, and present “a thousand coloured pictures” to their mind’s eye.

Enjoy Quotations.ch (use GUIDE to find answers to any technical questions you might have), then get in touch with us with any thoughts (admin@quotations.ch; https://twitter.com/QuotationsC; https://www.patreon.com/Quotations), and, most importantly, make your own “iridescent” sentences.

Related Resources

As discussed, we link all the words in the library to their Wiktionary entries. However, it is wise to use multiple dictionaries. Try the OED, the Oxford English Dictionary. It is the most comprehensive and detailed dictionary you can find. Explore Merriam and Webster or the Free Dictionary, for a concise overview of the full range of meanings of a word.

Should you decide to ignore Steveson’s advice and work on your grammar, try Grammarly, an excellent tool for basic grammar training.