2BI CHRONICLESnno other relevant material on Mitchell’s views, Daniels informsnus that “we can [now] appreciate the idiocy of RichardnMitchell’s notion that the holocaust was primarily a languagenproblem.”nEven worse than this kind of distortion is the linguist’sninsensitivity to the tone of the language critics, especially ofnNewman, Simon, and Mitchell. This tone has been obvious tonnonlinguist reviewers, who write about Newman: “deadpannhumor,” “immensely entertaining,” “a great wit,” “relentlesslynfunny”; about Simon: “witheringly, wildly funny,” “witty,”n”delightful”; and about Mitchell: “entertaining,” “the wittiestndiscussion . . . now available.” Even allowing for reviewerese,nthe impression is that these language critics are at leastnsomewhat amusing. But the linguists disagree. They characterizenNewman, Simon, and Mitchell as “mourners” over thendegeneration of English, “doomsayers” who have “apocalypticnjitters,” “full of bad temper and solemn rant,” and evenn”frightening.”nThe linguists’ unrecognizable characterization is simplyncant, going back perhaps to Lounsbury writing in 1907 aboutncertain unnamed language critics: “An undertone ofnmelancholy . . . pervades most of the utterances of those whondevote themselves to the care of the language.”nThe linguists are unaware of the uniqueness of each of thenmain language critics. A favorite way of misrepresenting themnis to lump them together, as if they were photocopies from thensame original. Daniels concludes about Newman, Safire,nMitchell, the Tibbettses, Simon, and the usage panel of thenAmerican Heritage Dictionary: “The work of all the languagencritics and experts reviewed so far in this chapter tends tonsuggest that the tasteful observation of other people’s language,nwhether it is practiced individually or in packs, yields littlenhelpful or accurate information about speech or writing. Aboutnall that these tasteful observers have in common is the leftovernlore of their schooling in grammar, the sense that they arenworthier than almost everyone else, and the conviction thatnsomething must be wrong out there.” Daniels claims that allnthe language critics’ fussing is about “superficial niceties.”nEven Dwight Bolinger writes: “… the average shaman paysnmore attention to the ill-chosen word and the grammaticalnerror, and looks for quickie remedies to deal with them.” Morenoften than not, the reader gets the impression that all languagencritics are obsessed with superficial matters such as who vs.nwhom, I vs. me, shall vs. will, like vs. as, between vs.namong — that is, the so-called shibboleths.nHaving decided that language critics are nothing more thannschoolmarms gone public, the linguists sometimes have awkwardnmoments when forced to take notice of specific facts thatncontradict their careless generalizations. Daniels finds thenTibbettses “curiously soft” on a grammatical point and Mitchelln”puzzlingly permissive on a number of points.” More often,nhowever, the linguists, having first assumed that languagencritics are all basically the same, rejoice to discover disagreementnabout usage among them, though why 100 percentnagreement in humane studies should be expected is hard tonunderstand. Bolinger writes: “No two shamans agree on whatnought to be listed” as important items of usage. Danielsnpretends to sympathize with the earnest student: “What is thenlearner, the good-hearted, open-minded, self-improvementorientednreader of these commentaries [by the language critics]nsupposed to do? Follow Newman and avoid dangling hopeful­nnnly, or go with Safire and Mitchell and use it freely?” Actually,nMitchell does not recommend hopefully; he simply says he isninterested in more important matters. And Safire, a member ofnthe Editorial Advisory Committee of American Speech (thenmain professional journal of linguists bent on condemningnlanguage critics) has for some time now been hunting with thenhounds.nThere are few linguists who, like Edward Finegan, recognizenthe one-sidedness and confusion of many of theirncolleagues. Finegan does allow that language critics often failnto distinguish between, on the one hand, harmless usages thatnoffend traditional conventions and, on the other hand, “verbalnpomposity, redundancy, and obfuscation.” Still, he goes on,n”linguists have often balked at acknowledging the value even ofnthe legitimate critiques of the traditionalists. Instead, they havenridiculed what they saw as frettings over neologisms, lexicalnmergers, and minor syntactic and morphological variants, andnas prissy niggling over spelling variants that even copy editorsnfail to catch.” But, as one might expect, Finegan is damnednwith faint praise by the linguistically inclined Douglas, whonfinds Finegan’s book “a rather centrist sort of work,” “generallyninformed,” and possessing a “bland balance.”nIf most of the linguists are unable to do justice to thenlanguage critics, perhaps they do not appreciate the languagencritics’ concern—sometimes sidetracked—for excellence ofnlanguage (not minimal effective communication, not merensocial acceptability, and not witty conversation). The languagencritics are not a secret police spying out linguistic subversionnamong ordinary citizens. Instead, their material chiefly comesnfrom those who write for publication or who speak in public.nSuch people, thrusting themselves before the public, have anresponsibility not merely to the language itself, but to it as anform of behavior that reveals mind, feeling, and morality—inneffect, the real human being. As Ben Jonson wrote: “Languagenmost shows a man. Speak, that I may see thee.”nDespite their common concern for excellence in language,nthe language critics are each unique. Safire (the defector)ndelights in odd varieties of language, in the linguistic trivia thatnreveal the diversity of human beings. Newman is primarilyninterested in human behavior, especially when it is manifestednin the distinctive language of national, social, or professionalngroups. He merrily displays with wit, verve, and sometimes toonmuch copiousness the pretentious, the misleading, and thenmindless in prose. As for Simon, aside from a certain obsessionnwith minutiae, he chiefly ridicules, more sardonically thannNewman, affectation in linguistic behavior, as in his wickednsatire on Barbara Walters. He is the strongest on the morality ofnlanguage; he believes that educated people ought to speak andnwrite better than they now do — and there is little reason to saynthat he is wrong. Of the four, Mitchell goes the furthest innanalyzing, rather than displaying or mimicking, pretentiousnand meaningless prose; he emphasizes continually the unbreakablenconnection between language and thought, or howninflated language reflects gaseous thought. Though not everythingnthe language critics write is correct and sensible, they livenand work in a world of value which linguists hardly ever visit.nWe might wonder why most linguists refuse to recognizenwhat language critics are doing. It would be interesting tonsuggest some general reasons for their failure instead of merelyngiving the impression that they are quirky and unscientific.nFirst, some of these linguists may lack literary culture or mayn