Friday, February 25, 2011

"On Language" R.I.P.

So the New York Times Magazine has decided, a year and a half after William Safire's death (and 32 years after "On Language" began), that it doesn't want the language column anymore. Well, you never know what an editor will think is a good idea (I speak as a former member of that tribe), but Ben Zimmer's farewell column, here, is a cogent and graceful demonstration of why the sort of thing he does will still need doing for the next three decades and more. Luckily we can still read Ben's work at Visual Thesaurus and elsewhere, and the NYT Mag's loss is sure to be some other publication's gain.

4 comments:

Steve said...

A very sad day, indeed. Ben's articles are exceedingly well researched and well written. It's a big loss for the Times.

Kay L. Davies said...

While I moan almost daily because the English language is going to hell in a hand-cart, Ben Zimmer's take on it is much more positive.
I'm trying to think kindly of my language evolving; to believe technology in the hands of children will help rather than hinder them; to accept acronyms as positives rather than negatives; and to read or hear abbreviations (like "app") without crying or cringing.
I'm sure he is right. I believe he is right about multiculturalism and the possibility that English may not always be the language of international commerce. Just look at French: Not that long ago it was the language of international diplomacy. Now we can't find any diplomacy anywhere.
There I go, off on a rant again. I guess I'm just not ready to "throw grammar from the train" yet.
-- K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Richard Hershberger said...

The Ethicist column also got the axe. From this I infer that the NY Times has made an editorial decision to give me even fewer reasons to read it.

AaronMo said...

If you're upset about The Times cutting Ben Zimmer's On Language column, please join the Facebook group to protest the decision! http://www.facebook.com/KeepOnLanguage