Open Phones On Language: Remembering William Safire

Monday, September 28, 2009

Former Nixon speechwriter and longtime New York Times columnist William Safire passed away over the weekend. He was well-known for his On Language column, exploring the twists and turns of the English language. Listeners: Tell us your On Language story! What's your favorite word or phrase? What's your favorite etymological mystery? Comment below!

Comments [6]

Paul I. Adujie from New York, New York

Adieu Bill Safire! Wonderful writer he was!

I will miss him... in The New York Time Magazine "On Language" which I have read every Sunday for decades!

He was a conservative whose worldview I disagreed with... but read his opinions anyway!

He had a good life and made worthy contributions and that is good enough for the world he leaves behind.

Most sincerely,
Paul I. Adujie
New York, United States

Sep. 28 2009 12:05 PM
Juliana from Manhattan

A one-man Academie Française. He will be missed.

Sep. 28 2009 11:58 AM
Jason from Midtown

i fell in love with safires 'on words' and tierneys 'the city' at a young age. he has been instrumental in shaping me into the grammatically anal person that i am today (much to the chagrin of my friends).

and im a liberal, who didnt mind his conservatism.

Sep. 28 2009 11:58 AM
Mike C. from Downtown Manhattan

"The English language is being augmented every year by about 400 new words. We cannot cope. We are drowning in the plethora. It's far better to possess a small vocabulary that you use properly rather than a big vocabulary with which you're a bit impressionistic. There's a danger for the English language to be known rather inexactly."

-- Anthony Burgess

Sep. 28 2009 11:56 AM
Tom Jones from Nyack NY

I mourn his passing He was a hero and mentor to me, and his work inspired to creat my own internet radio show and blog on things philological, "The Logovore's Dilemma". Though I often disagreed with his politics, I admired his fierce defense of the first amentment and civil liberties generally. And I kind of like being a "nattering nabob of negativism".

Sep. 28 2009 11:44 AM
Scott from Great Neck

William Safire's Rules for Writers:

* Remember to never split an infinitive.
* The passive voice should never be used.
* Do not put statements in the negative form.
* Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
* Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
* If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.
* A writer must not shift your point of view.
* And don't start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)
* Don't overuse exclamation marks!!
* Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
* Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
* If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
* Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
* Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
* Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
* Always pick on the correct idiom.
* The adverb always follows the verb.
* Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives.

Sep. 28 2009 11:34 AM

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