If you’ve ever wondered how to spell or define a word, Robert William Burchfield was the ideal person to ask for help.
Burchfield had a passion for the constantly evolving nature of the English language. A pre-eminent lexicographer, he became the editor of the four-volume “Supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary” in 1957. During his three decades in publishing, including 13 years as the chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, Burchfield spearheaded a campaign to expand the OED’s World English offerings to include terminology from Australia, the Caribbean, India, North America, Pakistan and South Africa. He even published words in Maori, the language of a tribe from his native New Zealand.
Despite what may have appeared to be a rather tame desk job, Burchfield occasionally received death threats from folks who were offended by his decision to publish sexist slang and racial/ethnic colloquialisms. He even went to court to defend the OED’s right to define terms some people felt were derogatory…
Thanks to samuelad for the link.