Sunday, July 08, 2007

Even Safire's substitutes fire blanks

When I saw that it was a column by a sub this morning, I dared to glance at "On Language" in the NYT Magazine. It was a particularly elitist slam at people who aren't 'careful' enough about their language: Jaimie Epstein rants about how she can't find a man because her "literacy" (!?!?) is "dangerous to [her] dating health." After a breakup, she goes looking for male company …
I didn’t realize, however, what a huge boulder I would be rolling uphill — what with my being a “literary person,” a sometime editor of this column, someone whose ear is as tuned to the pitch of language as a cellist’s is to music — until the misplaced modifiers, dyslexic spellings and grievous abuses of syntax started pouring in.
Oh, a grammar harpy, there's a big turn-on. Or maybe there's some kind of S&M inside thing that I'm not getting. (Please, baby, 'e' before 'i'. Oh yeah.)

Besides, even if the commas are in the right places, the column looks like weak writing to me — leaving aside her bragging about the tuning of her own ear. I was going to ignore the column, but the ads-l has had a pretty good string under the subject line 'Safire'. Or see key points here.

But maybe there's a business possibility in here, especially now that it's in the news that men talk as much as women:
Subject: Enhance your 6r@mm@r!
Isn't it time you did something about your problem? Finally the genuine stuff – without money tricks! Want harder grammar? Want to make your sentences up to three clauses longer? Now, don't be ashamed: you can have the biggest lexicon in the locker room.

Used by millions of men! Check it out, it's ten times cheaper than in your local Linguistics Department!

"I love how rapidly your product worked on my boyfriend, he can't stop talking about how excited he is having such a big new vocabulary and firm command of syntax!"


pc said...

**sticks finger in throat**

[so as to gag, not purge]

Mr. Verb said...

At the column or the business idea? (I figure they're about equally disgusting, but at least one was a joke!)

pc said...

the column! i think the business idea is fantastic.

Mr. Verb said...

Finally, a concrete plan for improving the public's actual understanding of language! And not even as deceptive as the most honest presidential candidate's basic stump speech!

I love it.

Anonymous said...

I read that column. I'm not even sure her commas are in the right places or that her sentences work. But the piece is downright badly conceived and executed. Good WRITING (and speaking) is far sexier than good copyediting. But maybe you're right: Could be some kinky thing she's got going on.