Linguist, lexicographer, radio host, public speaker

Remembering William Safire

I want to take a moment to remember William Safire for his kindness.

He was unstinting with his help in matters that were important to me. He gave generous public praise to my radio show, A Way with Words. He supported the Historical Dictionary of American Slang when it applied for funding during my editorship, by writing letters of support that shone with erudition and respect. He gave my book, the Oxford Dictionary of American Political Slang, a much kinder review than it deserved. He gave a cover blurb for my Official Dictionary of Unofficial English. He mentioned Wordnik, a startup I cofounded, in his column, generating interest from many thousands. He consented to a long interview about his political dictionary.

Perhaps most importantly, he gave me credit as often as possible in his column for helping him with his research, which allowed my own star to rise in the “language dodge,” which is what he called this maven-rich, grammarizing, languagey niche we both inhabited. He did this for lots of people and he did it unbegrudgingly.

Thanks, Bill. You were kind.

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Grant Barrett