R. W. Burchfield

Wilson Gray hwgray at EARTHLINK.NET
Mon Jul 12 19:51:21 UTC 2004

Does this mean that Gerard Manley Hopkins's term, "windhover," is not
the only synonym for "kestrel"? Or is it a euphemism based on the
"breathtakingly-vulgar synonym"? On the basis of GAT's hints, I have
come up with a possible synonym for "kestrel" that is, in the opinion
of some, "vulgar," but I personally don't find it "breathtakingly" so.
Perhaps, then, my possible synonym is not what's referred to by the
Times. Or, perhaps, I've simply become jaded "like a motherfucker," as
we say in the 'hood. In any case, I'll be paying particular attention
to the letters to the editor.

-Wilson Gray

On Jul 12, 2004, at 11:04 AM, George Thompson wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: R. W. Burchfield
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> --------
> 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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