Michael Erard is a longtime LH favorite (I wrote about his book Um. . . in 2007 and Babel No More in 2011), and he’s now trying to make a good idea happen, a general-interest magazine about language issues. I’m not quite sure why he decided to call it “Schwa Fire” (vague resemblance to “Safire”?), but what’s in a name? Anyway, here’s the website, here’s Ben Zimmer’s Log post on it (where Erard addresses various issues in the comment thread), and here’s the Kickstarter page if you’d like to help make it a reality (there’s about a month to go in the campaign).

Update (Feb. 2020). Not sure what happened to Schwa Fire; there’s a Facebook page, but it hasn’t updated since 2015.


  1. narrowmargin says

    I assumed it was a resemblance to “sure fire”.

  2. I guess it’s going to be about people doing things about language. Doesn’t interest me — I’m interested in language, not linguists.

  3. But what does “sure fire” have to do with language/linguistics?

  4. narrowmargin says

    Probably nothing. But it could just be some personal association in his own mind, some connection he’s made. Maybe he thought it was a high pun.
    It’s just that I can’t think of what else it could be.

  5. narrowmargin says

    Then again, you may be right: his homage to Safire.

  6. michael erard says

    Schwa Fire is my project. The naming had nothing to do with Safire, though it’s funny that people make that connection. No, I wanted a name that was both narrow and ecumenical, wasn’t going to privilege any discipline/profession, was cross-culturally viable, and wasn’t stuffy. Plus there is the very good reason that people like to say “schwa.”
    Also, “Language Hat” was taken.

  7. Maybe he thought it was a high pun.
    But “high pun” doesn’t even have a hyphen!

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