Seen in the light of your role in American history and your stunningly ill-informed rants and ramblings about words, that was gentle ribbing, just a couple old guys kidding around about how people talk. But the fire has gone out, Bill. You're not letting this relationship work: You need to be just wrong and stupid enough for me to mock and correct, but not so wrong and stupid to make that pointless.One of the real reasons every working linguist needs a blog is because it offers a chance to heap scorn on William Safire ... I figure that people just can't pound on his wretched, prescriptivist, Nixonian butt enough.
Today's column is the end of the road for us, Bill. Your little thing about how "you're welcome" is turning 100 years old goes too far. I didn't even have to break out the dictionaries or google around to see how wrong you were: ads-l has posts by Barry Popik and Michael Coarrubias ripping you to shreds here. The former pulled a book off the shelf (I know, that's not your game, but you have a paid assistant to reach up there!) and found a pile of attestations before 1875. The latter sent you a damn Shakespeare quote with the phrase in it, which it sounds like you (lege: your assistant) ignored.
One of the real joys of teaching and research is seeing things develop: Students and colleagues learn new skills, find new evidence and we see things in new ways. You're not like that, BIll. You're a bug stuck in amber, Bill, never moving for all eternity. You should be ashamed of yourself. Go work on your golf game.
Image from here.