Language as a Moving Target

July 5th, 2004 · No Comments
by Booksquare

At one point in our storied career, we wrote what we considered a brilliant response to something or other written by William Safire as he lamented our ever-changing language (surely his original piece won’t be that hard to find, given our very specific clues in this sentence). We were young and full of ourselves at the time, but our original belief remains true: language is a living thing. Okay, not so living that you have to go all Cormac McCarthy on us, but it evolves at a nice tempo. And we think that’s just grand — as does Barbara Wallraff. Despite her exalted status (can you imagine editing the copyeditors’ newsletter — we don’t have enough guts!), she sees some of the flexibility and change built into English. Now maybe she won’t let our author friend Jill (again, not her real name) get away with making up words whenever the urge strikes (and it does seem to strike often), but she’d probably more diplomatic about suggesting alternatives.

File Under: Publishers and Editors