Another dumb newspaper decision
The New York Times is about to introduce a redesign of its Sunday magazine. When that redesign appears next week, “On Language” will not be a part of it.
“On Language” was written for thirty years by the late William Safire (nil nisi bonum) and more recently by the estimable Ben Zimmer, a linguist who wears his learning lightly and informs reliably. His graceful final column can be found here. It alone can suggest to you the quality of what the paper is discarding.
The Times, despite its inherent interest in clarity and precision in language, apparently finds that “On Language” no longer fits its editorial vision for the magazine. I have been on the business end of such editorial illuminations for three decades, and the only thing that one can do is to close one’s eyes and think of England.
Perhaps a more alert publication will move quickly to take advantage of the talent The Times has so incontinently shrugged off. In the meantime, Mr. Zimmer’s work, and that of other informed commentators, can be found at the excellent Visual Thesaurus, for a nominal subscription. (I had allowed mine to lapse but, ever a repentant sinner, have returned to the fold.)