cover image In Love with Norma Loquendi

In Love with Norma Loquendi

William Safire. Random House (NY), $25 (349pp) ISBN 978-0-679-42386-7

In case you didn't know, norma loquendi is Latin for ``the everyday voice of the native speaker.'' In this ninth collection of his ``On Language'' columns, Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist Safire discusses attitude (Norman Mailer has too much; gerbils need more), appraises vogue words like frisson , offers suggestions on the who / whom usage confusion and considers the origin of many words and phrases. He reviews dictionaries, language studies and style books and treats us to a bit of repartee from the ruling class: What does Ted Sorenson, JFK's speechwriter, answer when asked if he wrote ``Ask not what your country . . .''? ``He says, `Ask not,' '' of course. Essential reading for those who regard the language as a national treasure. Illustrations. (Sept.)