Monday, September 28, 2009

On Language

I have always been interested in proper grammar and the etymology of words.  One of the most important figures in that field died yesterday.  Willam Safire was a Pulitzer prize-winning columnist for the New York Times.  He wrote the "On Language" column in the Times from 1979 until earlier this month - this is his last column.  It was always a source of amusement and information.  

Every time I hear Julie Andrews singing as Guenevere in Camelot, asking "whence this fragrance wafting through the air," I think of William Safire.  He taught me, in one of his columns, that "whence" means "from where." It is thus wrong (though exceedingly common) to say "from whence it came."  

He was a speechwriter for Richard Nixon as well, but nobody's perfect.

1 comment:

  1. Is William to thank for your knowledge of grammar? If so, I should start reading back issues of the NYT...