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The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth

by Norton Juster

Language and Communication Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

Milo and Tock wandered up and down the aisles looking at the wonderful assortment of words for sale. There were short ones and easy ones for everyday use, and long and very important ones for special occasions, and even some marvelously fancy ones packed in individual gift boxes for use in royal decrees and pronouncements. (4.6)

This word store is described as a marvelous, wonderful place. In fact, it sounds just plain awesome. But imagine what your life might be like if you had to buy all of your words before you used them. Would you find this frustrating? Shmoop certainly would, but then again, we're pretty talkative.

Quote #5

"They never appointed a new Which, and that explains why today people use as many words as they can and think themselves very wise for doing so. For always remember that while it is wrong to use too few, it is often far worse to use too many." (5.64)

Words seem really important to the people of Dictionopolis, but here the Which gives us a glimpse into the not-so-great side of using all these words. If you use so many, you're really not expressing yourself very well, are you? You run the risk of being vague, and people might not understand just what you mean. The Which points out an important lesson for all you budding writers out there: it's better to use one right word than a bunch of words that are just close enough.

Quote #6

The Humbug, suddenly realizing what had happened, leaped to his feet in terror, and Tock worriedly checked to see if he was still keeping time. It was certainly a strange feeling to know that no matter how loudly or softly you chatted or rattled or bumped, it all came out the same way – as nothing.

"How dreadful," thought Milo as he slowed down the car. (12.6-7)

If this doesn't make you crazy, what will? This situation is a bit like the following saying: If a tree falls in the woods, and nobody's there to hear it, did it really make a sound? If no one can hear Milo and his friends talking, because they aren't making sounds, are they still talking? If you can't make any noise, do you even exist, or are you nothing? Yikes! That's a scary question right there.

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