Many of us in the editing and writing professions may not have agreed with his politics — and might very well have been the actual “nattering nabobs of negativism” or spawn thereof — but when it came to “On Language” there was no one who did it better than New York Times columnist William Safire, who died this weekend at age 79.
The “On Language” column, which Safire wrote for the past 30 years, “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,” said the New York Times.
There were columns on blogosphere blargon, tarnation-heck euphemisms, dastardly subjunctives and even Barack and Michelle Obama’s fist bumps. And there were Safire “rules for writers”: Remember to never split an infinitive. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors. Proofread carefully to see if you words out. Avoid clichés like the plague. And don’t overuse exclamation marks!!
Photo credit: George Tames/The New York Times.