Ben Zimmer Talks to NPR About Succeeding William Safire at NYTMag’s ‘On Language’

Zimmer-small03192010.jpgIncoming New York Times Magazine “On Language” columnist Ben Zimmer took to the public radiowaves this morning to dish with Renee Montagne about his new role at the Times. His first column as custodian of “On Language” will appear this Sunday.

“I have to say, especially because I can’t reproduce William Safire’s very distinctive voice. I’ll put my own stamp on it. I’ll come at it in some ways in a more scholarly way because of my background in linguistics, linguistic anthropology,” said Zimmer.

Zimmer also talked about linguistic developments he’s been looking at, such as the verbing of hip-hop star Kanye West’s name following his interruption of Taylor Swift at last year’s MTV Video Music Awards.

Zimmer’s first column will address the historical uses of “no” and “yes” in politics. His succession of Safire was announced last week.

NPR audio after the jump.