September 28, 2009

The Right Words for a Wake

Normally, when a conservative of great note or high profile dies, I find myself very strained to come up with anything nice to say at all. Hell, Jerry Falwell has been dead for over two years and I still can't come up with a single nice thing to say.

But I have nice things to say about William Safire.

He was a Nixon guy and the house conservative of the NY Times for decades.

That is not what I liked about him.

What I liked about him was his love of language, words and writing. Alongside the political columns, he had one on words and language. The man could just turn a phrase. Spiro Agnew's "nattering nabobs of negativism" come straight from him. He was, first and foremost, good with words. He gave all of us who strive to be clever with words something to aim at.

So here are Safire's “rules for writers”:

Remember to never split an infinitive. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors. Proofread carefully to see if you words out. Avoid clich├ęs like the plague. And don’t overuse exclamation marks!!

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