Virginia Woolf Talks about the English Language

To combine old words with new words is fatal to the constitution of a sentence. In order to use new words properly you would have to invent a whole new language, and that though no doubt we shall come to it, is not at the moment our business. Our business is to see what we can do with the old English language as it is. How can we combine the old words in new orders so that they can survive, so that they create beauty, so that they tell the truth? <…> [Words] are the wildest, freest, most irresponsible, most unteachable of all things. <…> [They] don’t live in the dictionary, they live in the mind. If you want proof of this, consider how often in the moments of emotion when we most need words we find none.

It was recorded by BBC in 1937 and is the only surviving recording of Mrs. Woolf’s voice. (via Open Culture)

There is an exhibition at the National Gallery at the moment, Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision; I envy Londoners and tourists.