William Safire Dies at Age 79
Originally posted 27 Sep
Safire was a speechwriter for the Nixon-Agnew administration, noted for coining such phrases as “nattering nabobs of negativism.” From 1973-2005 he wrote his twice-weekly column on politics for the Times. And from 1979 to earlier this month he wrote the weekly column on language. He was also the editor of Safire’s Political Dictionary and numerous other books on language and usage.
He was probably the most widely read and famous commentator on language in the United States, even if his approach was idiosyncratic, his research sometimes sketchy, and his pronouncements often at odds with those of professional linguists. He certainly did have a gift for coming up with a clever turn of phrase. He will be missed.
Update (28 Sep):
Some remembrances from various language commentators on the web:
Copyright 1997-2017, by David Wilton