Mighty Red Pen

September 28, 2009

Remembering William Safire

Filed under: Lit review,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 7:19 pm

By now, the news has spread rapidly through Wordnerdlandia that New York Times language columnist William Safire passed away at age 79.  From the New York Times obituary:

And from 1979 until earlier this month, he wrote “On Language,” a New York Times Magazine column that explored written and oral trends, plumbed the origins and meanings of words and phrases, and drew a devoted following, including a stable of correspondents he called his Lexicographic Irregulars.

The columns, many collected in books, made him an unofficial arbiter of usage and one of the most widely read writers on language. It also tapped into the lighter side of the dour-looking Mr. Safire: a Pickwickian quibbler who gleefully pounced on gaffes, inexactitudes, neologisms, misnomers, solecisms and perversely peccant puns, like “the president’s populism” and “the first lady’s momulism,” written during the Carter presidency.

Remembrances come in all shapes and sizes along the love-him-or-leave-him spectrum. Check out Fritinancy, Mr. Verb, Wishydig, Language Log, Word Routes at Visual Thesaurus, and the Edit Desk, for just a few.


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