William Safire, Last of the Pedants?


You have got to be the worst writer in the world, Sean.
And very pretentious.
Nice work, Sean. Safire (and George Will and Saul Bellow)are writers that I love to read despite the fact that I disagee with every damn thing they say. But never fear: some other grammarian will take over. One of his frequent subs. . .
A rather over blown tribute.

Perhaps his death embodies the change that swirls around all language. Safire is gone, new usage continues.

C'est la vie.
Great piece, Sean.
Great article Sean! A fitting tribute to a man who would have wanted nothing less than a grammatically accurate obit.
Imagine having a whole career without relying on writing FUCK or MOTHERFUCKING in every article!

No, he wasn't a pedant. He had standards---- even if his politics were wrong wrong wrong.

Nice essay, Sean.
I disagree with #1 -- I generally think your writing (Sean's) is some of the best in The Stranger. But in the Safire vein, what about this sentence: "Few if any writers in the public sphere were as abundantly knowledgeable about how language works than William Safire"? Your "than William Safire" should be "as William Safire."
Good a place as any for me to rant that if I hear one more ninny tack "going forward" onto an observation or aspiration (as FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg did on Diane Rehm this morning), my head will explode.

This meaningless turd seems to have been born in the business world, second only to the sports world as gestator of inanities.
Did you happen to see this? Speaking of eulogies.


I really liked your piece, and that you've dropped the "emeritus" from your handle.
@4: If you read much of Safire you'd know that he wasn't some stick-in-the-mud, old school grammarian. He was more than willing to let go of useless old conventions.

What he did not accept was lazy or simply wrong changes in language passed off as "new usage."
"Say what you like about the founding fathers," he wrote in Fumblerules, "they knew what to do after dependent clauses."

What the heck happened with the 2nd amendment, then?
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Please diagram those four clauses. Utter nonsense, grammatically speaking.