New York Times Magazine has made him probably the most widely read commentator on the En"/>

NO UNCERTAIN TERMS: More Writing from the Popular "On Language" Column in the New York Times Magazine

William Safire, Author . Simon & Schuster $25 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7432-4243-1

For over two decades, Safire's "On Language" column for the New York Times Magazine has made him probably the most widely read commentator on the English language today, and he has turned those columns into more than a dozen books (Let a Simile Be Your Umbrella, etc.). There is no one more adept at dissecting lexical linkages, spotting linguistic lapses and tracing coinages. In this outing, he brings back columns first published between 1997, and 1999, a period rife with words relating to "Clinton's Monicagate." For instance, the Congressional Record mistakenly recorded Monica Lewinsky's gift to the president as a "chochki." What Safire calls "linguistic lawyering" got the record corrected to read "tchochke." Safire notes, "Ms. Lewinsky gave it the proper English pronunciation, and the transcriber took the spelling of the final vowel from that." Probing puns and neologistic splinterings such as bagelwich, Safire covers computerese, examines euphemisms, considers the propriety of new compound words ("something there is that doesn't like a hyphen"), takes issue with the vogue of "having an issue" and sallies with slanguists. We learn that the verb canoodle may be related to the German dumpling called Knoedel. Here are words from Web sites, politicians, Pentagonians and other phrasemakers. The columns are often followed by reader reactions, and these informative responses can veer into invective or erupt into hilarity. Throughout this cornucopia of columns, stimulating, scholarly and thought provoking, Safire remains a witty wordsmith, even in his closing acknowledgments: "I stand on the shoulders of giants. (Nobody stands on the shoulders of midgets; that would be cruel)." (June)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2003
Release date: 05/01/2003
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.