Thursday, February 05, 2009

Is that a compliment?

From PBS' online page about the 2008 Mark Twain Prize given to George Carlin:

George Carlin combined a once-in-a-lifetime voice, a face that could do anything, and be anyone, an understanding of language that William Safire (or William Shakespeare) would have tipped their hats to….

Saying that William Safire understands language is like saying that Pat Buchanan understands religion. They have their definite views, but they're driven more by a desire to pontificate and impose than on a desire to understand and teach.

I would like to think that PBS was primarily going for the "William" and "William" rhythm. I suppose "William Labov" wouldn't have the same kick to it.

1 comment:

  1. Think the Times will turn the On Language column over to Labov? That'd be cool.

    (The Buchanan simile is lovely, by the way.)


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