I've selected this item because it illustrates an interesting
point about quotations - that they often have an individual,
personal relevance. My trade is linguistics, and I am desperately
concerned about the plight of the world's endangered languages.
Half the languages of the world are so seriously endangered
that they are likely to die out in the course of the present
century. Mandela's remark captures dramatically one of the core
functions of language, to express identity. This is not a quotation
which relies for its power on who said it: the observation would
be apposite regardless of its author - though admittedly, the
fact that it comes from Nelson Mandela makes us listen in a
way we would not if it had come from John Doe. It is the power
of the insight that counts.