Take My Word for It

William Safire, With, Kimble Mead, Illustrator Crown Publishers $22.5 (357p) ISBN 978-0-8129-1323-1
In this new collection of his ""On Language'' columns for the New York Times, Safire grapples wittily with such questions as the proper use of which and that, the pronunciation of junta, the subjunctive mood, the phenomenon of Unfamiliar Correctness, the use and misuse of commas, the languages of advertising and license plates, and whether to use a word most of your readers won't understand. ``I keep all thirteen volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary in my lap at all times,'' says Safire, ever ready to defend himself against attacks by the Gotcha Gang and the Nitpicker's League, many of whose lettersalong with the columnist's tart retortsare reproduced here. (Most of the letters are in the nature of helpful addenda to Safire's authoritative conclusions.) The book is more than entertaining; it's a must-read for anyone interested in the dynamic growth of English and its sour notes. Illustrations not seen by PW. (September 30)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1986
Release date: 09/01/1986
Paperback - 357 pages - 978-0-8050-0606-3
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