Sunday, April 22, 2007

Dick Cavett: Hired to make Safire look smart?

Dick Cavett has a still-new kind-of-language-related blog-like thing (sorry, sometimes things are vague) on Times Select (subscription only, and not worth it). Over at Language Log, folks have been swatting him like a J.D. Durbin pitch that's drifted out over the middle of the plate (hint: current ERA = 94.50 for the D-backs). In the latest, Mark Liberman nails him for a whole set of incorrections Cavett clearly never made the vaguest effort to check.

One thing that wasn't strictly 'wrong' was that the plural of attorney general should be attorneys general — this plural and others like it are widely used in the US, although it's just a compound for most of us. Still, if the Onion has dedicated an article to mocking the usage as pedantic (here), it's worse than wrong in some sense.

I've been hoping the Gray Lady would step up and hire somebody smart and informed to write about language … at least to counterbalance Safire if not to replace him.

Major correction: J.D. "Real Deal" Durbin has changed addresses a couple times since the start of the season it turns out ... I should have checked. Went from Arizona to Boston to Phillie and then to AAA Ottawa, I think. Hard to tell when you're moving around that fast. Anyhow, salary this year: 380,000, US.


The Ridger, FCD said...

To be fair, the last time they dealt with Cavett, he was right and the "correction" was an incorrection, unlike this time.

I was commenter 117, by the way :-)

Mr. Verb said...

Well, nobody wins'em all ... even Language Log.

The Ridger, FCD said...

No, no - they weren't miscorrecting Cavett, they were explaining why it is that he was right and the commenter who "corrected" him was wrong.

Which is not to say they can't get it wrong, only that this time they weren't.

Mr. Verb said...

Oh, sheesh, I just can't do anything in a hurry. Sorry about that.