Date: Tue, 2 Sep 1997 23:34:35 -0400
From: "Barry A. Popik" Bapopik[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM
Subject: Safire's WATCHING MY LANGUAGE, HDAS H-O reviews; Hot Dog & the AP
WATCHING MY LANGUAGE:
ADVENTURES IN THE WORD TRADE
by William Safire
$27.50, 317 pages
Random House, 1997
A few confessions first: I didn't buy the book, and I have a
longstanding grudge against Mr. Safire and his newspaper.
I didn't buy the book, and I don't think many people will, either. The
book is the ninth collection of his columns (which I HAVE read); I read this
book in the store. (Barnes & Noble has comfy chairs.) $27.50 is an
outrageously high price for this. In six months, I'll buy it for $10 when
the returns are sold at the Strand bookstore.
My longstanding grudge against Mr. Safire is well known.
(THAT IS: His paper still hasn't run a "Big Apple" story--not even five years
too late! When I invited Mr. Safire to the 1992 American Name Society "Big
Apple" dinner (as suggested by a co-worker of mine--Safire's cousin), he
didn't even reply to me! When my co-guest of honor (Charles Gillett) at that
dinner died in 1995, the New York Times screwed up "the Big Apple" in his
obituary! No one has ever apologized!)
This book is too spooky to be believed. Spooks starts on an opening
Grateful acknowledgment is made to _The New York Times_ for permission
to reprint 76 "On Language" columns by William Safire from the May 5, 1991,
through January 24, 1993, issues of _The New York Times Magazine_.
So what they're selling here--for $27.50--is columns that you may have
already read and that are AT LEAST FOUR AND A HALF YEARS OLD!
Safire has a publisher. He has an agent. IT TOOK FOUR AND A HALF YEARS
The back cover asks "Who first used the expression _Not!_?" The inside
jacket asks "Who deserves credit for coining the expressions _policy wonk_,
_digerati_, and _Not!_?" In BUZZWORDS: L.A. FRESHSPEAK, page 73, "Not!" is
"overused and now considered _lame_."
If you look at the latest RH HDAS (review follows), "Not!" goes back to
1893. You know who found that citation? ME! I've got lots of stuff on
"Not!" Not only is "Not!" old news and considered lame at this date in 1997,
BUT HE DIDN'T EVEN GET IT RIGHT!! There's no historical discussion, for
example, of "nit!" This was one of the reasons to buy the book?
On pages 161-163, he reviews "new" books that are six years old! On
page 162, there's a discussion of Fowler's MODERN ENGLISH USAGE. On page
163, "If you can afford a great reference work that makes all American lexies
proud, get Volume II of Fred Cassidy's Dictionary of American Regional
English, published this year (1991)."
Well, it's 1997, there was a Volume III...
Maybe it'll sell to libraries.