R. W. Burchfield

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Mon Jul 12 15:04:56 UTC 2004

The NYTimes had an obituary on July 10, 2004, p. B18.  I have sent the editor the letter below in response.  Let's see whether it gets printed.

"Living as we do during a time when vulgarity is too commonplace to ever astonish, it was very cruel of the Times to tantalize birdwatchers and other readers by telling them that "a breathtakingly vulgar synonym for 'kestrel' can be found in the W's" in the supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary.  Many libraries will not even have the supplement anymore, since its contents have been incorporated into the 20 volume 2nd edition, where the Ws fill many hundred pages, and if the supplement should be at hand, the Ws must still fill at least several hundred pages.  Surely you could have given the hint that the word begins with "wind" -- that must be news that would be fit to print.  Then to say that it is a ten-letter word?  Perhaps even to suggest that to buy a "u" would prove a fruitful investment?  Responsible journalism requires no less."


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African
Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998.

----- Original Message -----
From: RonButters at AOL.COM
Date: Wednesday, July 7, 2004 4:40 pm
Subject: Re: R. W. Burchfield

> See the splendid tribute to the late RW Burchfield in yesterday's
> London Times.

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