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Edwin Newman, TV journalist and language maven, dead at 91

By the CNN Wire Staff
Edwin Newman, the longtime NBC newsman, has died.
Edwin Newman, the longtime NBC newsman, has died.
  • NEW: The death occurred last month
  • Tom Brokaw: Newman was "worldly, erudite and droll"
  • Newman served as anchor, reporter, commentator, moderator for NBC

(CNN) -- Edwin Newman, the longtime NBC newsman and expert on the English language, has died, NBC said Wednesday.

Newman, 91, served in many capacities for NBC, as an anchor, a news reporter, a commentator, a moderator and a host.

He was particularly well-known for his writings, including those about language. They include "Strictly Speaking: Will America Be the Death of English?" and "A Civil Tongue."

The Newman family attorney told CNN the death occurred on August 13, and the family didn't it want to divulge the news "because they knew that it would attract a lot of press interest and wanted a chance to come to terms with it before the news broke."

Tom Brokaw, NBC News special correspondent, called Newman "worldly, erudite and droll" and said those were "qualities that were enriched by his pitch-perfect use of the English language."

"He was always a gentleman and a reassuring presence in our midst."

Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor of "Nightly News with Brian Williams" on NBC, said Newman was "approachable, elegant and precise" and "never preachy or pedantic."

"He was a teacher, a broadcaster, and above all a superb journalist. To those of us watching at home: He made us feel like we had a very smart, classy friend in the broadcast news business."

Williams admired what he said was a "sharp sense of humor -- always first aimed squarely at himself." And that trait "allowed him to stretch his formidable talents from news to 'Saturday Night Live.'"

"His voice can still be heard inside 30 Rock -- and we summon it often when we need an answer. He always knew the correct one."

Steve Capus, president of NBC News, said Newman "brought dignity and perspective" to historic events and "set a standard for decades to come" at his network and across journalism.

"He was one of our nation's pre-eminent journalists, an authoritative figure on grammar and the English language, a true professional and always the gentleman," Capus said.