Custodian of the English Language

Eminent lexicographer Robert W Burchfield has died aged 81. The Wanganui-born scholar rose to fame as editor of the 4-volume Supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary. The massive undertaking took nearly 30 years to complete – from 1957 to 1986 – and provoked heated debate, court cases, even death threats along the way. The task was a labour of love for the man who once described the English language as “a monster accordion, stretchable at the whim of the editor, compressible ad lib.”Obituaries for Burchfield appeared in almost every major paper, including the GuardianNew York TimesLA Times, and Belfast Telegraph. The Guardian: “Long before the Rockies crumble, the English language will have changed beyond our imagining, but for now, and a considerable time to come, Burchfield’s work will fuel that shoal of volumes bred by a whale of a dictionary which is relished byall who marvel at what words can do.” See NZEDGE Hero story

Robert W Burchfield: January 29 1923 – July 5 2004

Tags: Belfast Telegraph  Guardian (The)  lexicography  Los Angeles Times  New York Times (The)  Robert Burchfield  the Oxford English Dictionary  

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