interview with John Ashbery

Introducing –

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. 2011 defines wordsmith as:

  1. A fluent and prolific writer, especially one who writes professionally.
  2. An expert on words.

For the purposes of this blog, we prefer a wider definition, one that embraces all those who (like the undersigned, a professional translator) use words - both those in their mother tongues and those in the foreign languages they aspire to command - as the tools of their trade and the object of their passion.

This blog has its genesis in a French-language blog,, (LMJ) maintained by me and by my friend and master-wordsmith, Jean Leclercq. For several years LMJ has run monthly interviews, initially with translators and subsequently with other linguists. We have dubbed each such interviewee “Linguist of the Month”.


The initial goal of WordsmithsBlog is to reproduce interviews conducted in English, (as opposed to those conducted directly in French) and published on Le Mot Juste. Past interviewees have run the gamut of wordsmiths, including poet Hélène Cardona, translator John Woodsworth, forensic linguist John Olsson, professor of translation studies Sherry Simon, journalist Patrick Cox and interpreter Ewandro Magalhãesall trailblazers in their fields. Hopefully the lives and careers of future interviewees will capture the interest of our readers, as those of our past guests have done for readers of Le Mot Juste.


Hélène Cardona

John Woodsworth


Ewandro Magalhães

Sherry Simon

Finally, a word about our interviewers: in addition to your humble bloggers, Jean and myself, many guest linguists coming from widely different fields of language and literature have taken on that role. They include Michèle Druon, professor of French studies, Julian Maddison, Asterix expert, Cynthia Hazelton, lecturer in legal and commercial translation, Marjolijn de Jaager, French & Dutch > English literary translator, to name only a few.We invite you to subscribe to You can then enjoy regular postings designed to open a window for you on the varied lives of these fascinating people — wordsmiths who share your love of language.




    Michèle Druon   

Julian Maddison



Cynthia Hazelton

Marjolijn de Jaager


My imageJonathan Goldberg,

Los Angeles, 19 November, 2015


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