Sunday, December 10, 2006


The last few days have been a little stressful here in the Verb household. As the world now knows, William Safire is going to receive a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Since I heard the news, my inflections have been inside my derivations half the time and I'm getting ablaut when I should have dental preterits.

I've been trying not to respond, all the while doing some serious damage to a major active articulator with my few remaining teeth -- another day of this and 'apical' anything will be history for old Mr. Verb. I was trying to remain silent because, well, what can you say? Earlier awards have gone to members of the criminal crew who created the nightmare that is the war in Iraq. So why not Safire?*

But now the word is out on the story behind the story: Language Log's Mark Liberman has revealed, ever so truthily, what really happened. We're frankly proud to have helped defeat the ill-conceived campaign to give Safire a Loggy. Until there's a Nobel for linguistics, everyone knows that a Loggy is the highest honor there is for languagey stuff. I'm all for reconciliation and am glad to see them awarded to those on both sides of the Linguistics Wars. but Safire's a bridge too far.

Thank god I have a press pass -- I will be there with catcalls about nominative suffixes when Safire gets the award.

*The alert reader will note that this syntax is a little homage: Safire's On Language today uses an apparently-verboten sentence-initial so, in one of his obligatory "I can break the rules" moments.

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