Tag: Safire On Language

Safire 'On Language' -- Fun with insults!

Safire 'On Language' -- Fun with insults!
In William Safire’s wonderful 1980 book “On Language,”   part of his attitude in the whole book shows at the start of the entry for the word pettifogging: “What’s in an insult? Fun, if it uses an offbeat word.” He goes on to describe a speech at the UN General Assembly by a Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic... Read more »

Safire 'On Language' -- Pet peeves and other names for them

Safire 'On Language' -- Pet peeves and other names for them
One of my favorite entries in William Safire’s Sustaining Book, “On Language,”  is the entry about pet peeves. He presents a list of readers’ least favorite words and follows with his own surprising one. Here are my favorite parts: — “The pet peeve of Helen Landrim of Whiting, N.J., is the disappearing ‘ing’ sound. ‘Whatever has... Read more »

Safire 'On Language' -- fun with mondegreens

Safire 'On Language' -- fun with mondegreens
In William Safire’s delightful book “On Language” (New York, 1980, Times Books),  he has a funny entry about a category I loved laughing about before I knew its technical name, mondegreens. Actually, hearing sounds and thinking they sound for the wrong words has many names — Safire prefers mondegreen to the more technical “homophone,” “unwitting... Read more »
Advertisement:

William Safire defending the word 'hopefully' and doing it hopefully

William Safire defending the word 'hopefully' and doing it hopefully
I’ve been trying to assert that the word “hopefully” has become a stage direction instead of an adverb. MARGARET (hopefully): Oh, please, readers, use this word well! When I read “On Language” and left myself sticky bookmarks to get back to the great entries, I found that William Safire was on my side in this... Read more »

William Safire on the origins of 'Have a nice day!'

William Safire on the origins of 'Have a nice day!'
William Safire died in 2009, but I think he may be looking on happily from heaven’s library at our new conversation-enders, “Stay safe” and/or “Stay healthy.” If he were here, he’d be delighted to hear what I’m hearing — the noticeable lack of that mainstay of recent decades, “Have a nice day!” In Safire’s book... Read more »

Safire 'On Language' - alternate and alternative

Safire 'On Language' - alternate and alternative
William Safire, the great language columnist who defended and described the English language so well in his columns and books, could sometimes slip up and use a word badly. Even in his books, such as “On Language,” he was wise and humble enough to use his own errors to explain how he’d erred and counsel... Read more »
Advertisement:

William Safire 'On Language' - my hero among logophiles

William Safire 'On Language' - my hero among logophiles
When my fellow blogger Marianne Goss offered some editing books, as I mentioned in a previous post, one of them I brought home was “On Language” by William Safire (New York, TIMES BOOKS, 1980). I recognized quickly that this book, a collection of definitions (and letters from readers) culled from his New York Times language... Read more »