A pet child has many names. Among the dearest pets of the “Landslide of the Norm” research group were the language mavens, or guardians, or purists, or high priests, etc., a group of people devoted to protecting the norms of the Russian (standard) language. This phenomenon, however, is not restricted to Russia, but is widespread in modern standard language communities.

Recently one of the most visible American language mavens, William Safire, passed away. He contributed to the trade in a highly respected manner with his column “On Language” in the New York Times. Ben Zimmer has written a highly readable obituary of Safire, which discusses the art of language mavenism.

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