One of my pet peeves turned up in the Times on Sunday. I found it un"bear"able, and turned to William Safire for aid and comfort. Here's what went down:
Dear Mr. Safire,
I was reading a poignant “Lives” reminiscence in the March 8 issue of the magazine, when I stumbled and fell over the following sentence, which began: “How can I be expected to follow, say, the grizzly recreation of an unsolved murder or close-ups...” This is not the first time I have seen grizzly, as in the bear, used as if it was synonymous with grisly, as in the remnants of a grizzly bear attack on campers, but I attributed this to a grisly lack of copyeditors at the publications I was reading. Yet there it was, in the Times. Is grizzly now accepted as on par with grisly? Am I grizzled and behind the times in the matter of this grisly/grizzly development?
I've seen it in headlines, I've seen it sprinkled throughout stories written by people who should know better...drives me nuts.
So here's Safire...
Dear Lexicographic Irregular,
You were good to respond to my invitation for comments and suggestions. A great many other readers have pitched in, too. Although I can’t answer mail individually, I read every letter and am most grateful for yours.
Well, OK, maybe not Safire himself, but the auto-Safire was at least pleasant in what would appear to be giving me the brush. If he's not going to take up the cause, I will.