QUOTH THE MAVEN by William Safire


More on Language from William Safire
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 More delightful linguistic nit-picking from Safire. This seventh collection of the author's ``On Language'' columns (Language Maven Strikes Again, 1990, etc.), reprinted from The New York Times Magazine, finds him in fine and cranky fettle: Instead of an opening acknowledgments page, he gives us ``Credits,'' since ``Acknowledgments is a word that, to me, connotes grudging admission of the need to say thanks....Besides, the snooty word has a fake Latin prefix: hell with it.'' Although the columns cover scores of topics ranging from ``drug-war lingo'' to the phrase ``pushing the envelope'' and the idiosyncrasies of apostrophes, readers will note the regularity with which Safire tackles the utterances of George Bush--for example, the former President's description ``of a photo session at which he makes remarks but refuses to answer reporters' questions as `a limited photo op cum statement sans questions' ''). As in the earlier collections, much of the fun here comes from the many readers' responses to the columns--e.g., Leo Rosten, commenting on Safire's piece on political phrasing, remembering his own unsuccessful attempt, while at the RAND Corporation, to complement the word ``warfare'' with ``peacefare''; or the fellow from Pleasantville, New York, who answers Safire's column about misplaced plurals by citing the story of the Bronx woman who asked her daughter, Bella, for a ``Kleeneck'': ``Bella said, `Ma, it's Kleenex.' To which Ma replied, `Yeah, I know, but I only want one.' ''

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-42324-9
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1993


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