RIP Dear Edwin Newman

The United States has lost a voice of reason, and the English language has lost a friend and defender. Edwin Newman, NBC newsman and standard-bearer of the language, has died at 91. A wonderful article in the New York Times says, in part:

Mr. Newman’s best-known books, both published by Bobbs-Merrill, are Strictly Speaking: Will America Be the Death of English? (1974) and A Civil Tongue (1976). In them, he declared what he called “a protective interest in the English language,” which, he warned, was falling prey increasingly to windiness, witlessness, ungrammaticality, obfuscation and other depredations.

To quote further (since I do not pretend to such eloquence, although I agree with his sentiments):

Among the sins that set Mr. Newman’s teeth articulately on edge were these: all jargon; idiosyncratic spellings like “Amtrak” and a great many others; the non-adverbial use of “hopefully” (a sign in his office read, “Abandon ‘Hopefully’ All Ye Who Enter Here”); “y’know” as a conversational stopgap; a passel of prefixes and suffixes (“de-,” “non-,” “un-,” “-ize,” “-wise” and “-ee”); and using a preposition to end a sentence with.

And I cannot help but believe that he would agree with mine when I add to that lovely list the irritating use of the passive voice in the expression of our feeling of loss:

He will be missed. We will miss him.

Speak Your Mind

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