Thursday, September 16, 2010

Weekly writing coach: Is Edwin Newman rolling in his grave over this obit?

Edwin Newman's writing about writing was among my early influences, and when the former NBC newsman's death was announced this week, I enjoyed the chance to read about some of his pet peeves in language use, and some of his delicious puns.  But his obituary in this morning's New York Times brought me up short.  Was the ending of this paragraph a poke at Newman's preferences, an example in situ, or just a truly well-placed error? From the obit:
Among the sins that set Mr. Newman’s teeth articulately on edge were these: all jargon; idiosyncratic spellings like "Amtrak”; the non-adverbial use of “hopefully” (he was said to have had a sign in his office reading, “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.
Since the "with" is superfluous, I'm going to say that it's good Newman isn't here to see this. He might have chosen to write his own obit, had he known this would happen.

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