Report on Thesis submitted by Miss Manghanita Kempadoo
- I take it that a candidate for a Higher Degree in the Department of Comple- mentary Studies is required to show a modest familiarity with a rather wide range of material - unlike a candidate in any of the traditional disciplines who has to demonstrate a complete mastery of a range of material so focussed and concentrated as to have almost vanished.
The subject of the Complementary Studies thesis may, of course, be as slight - indeed, as trivial - as those we are accustomed to in the traditional disciplines, but the candidate has so to fill out and diffuse the subject as to make it appear to have a significant breadth. The circumambient material which the candidate entrains for this purpose must, of course, be accurate : indeed there is no excuse for inaccuracy in this regard, since all this material is of the candidate's own choosing.
- 1 find the candidate literate in her native language, weak in French, deficient in Biology, and quite innumerate. Since the three fields over which the thesis purports to spread are Literature, Biology, and Arithmetic, and since the candidate constantly reverts to a matter which is simply resolved with a little elementary French, I conclude that her performance is inadequate and does not merit the award of the Degree.
- To come to particulars:
3.1 The original document to which the candidate directs our attention refers in most of the known editions ( but see Krummelhoff's illuminating footnote no. 117 on p.13 of the 3rd edition of Grünter's commentary on Fünnelheit's Die Kunst der Obstbaumbeshhneidenung (Springer-verlag, Berlin (1913))) to
"a partridge in a pear-tree" (although some authors omit the hyphen). Now it is most improbable that a partridge should perch in a tree even in moments of acute disress, and anyone with the slightest feeling for ornithological truth is bound to seek some other reading of this line.
A moment's reflection should recall that perdrix is the French word for partridge.
Is it not probable therefore that the author of the original document was rather engagingly airing this trifle of erudition in writing:
"a partridge - or un perdrix" ?
This, surely, must be the truth of the matter( see, for instance, my own note in 'The Etymological Review, Vol XVIII, No 7, p.31(1947), or my longer article in The Philological Quarterly, pp47-48(1948) and subsequent correspondence : it is unfortunate that Miss Kempadoo seems to have overlooked these trifles in whatever literature-search she carried out!), and many of the transport and storage problems hinted at by your candidate at once disappear.
3.2 Now to the matter of innumeracy. The original document relates that
"On the first day.. (he) ...sent....a partridge....
On the second day...(he)...sent..two turtle doves and a partridge
On the third day ...... (he) sent..three French hens, two turtle
doves and a partridge".....etc.
Even if Miss Kampadools mathematical erudition does not extend to the niceties of arithmetic progression, a modest exercise in plasticene modelling would, as well as bringing in another field of Complementary Studies, viz. Sculpture, have enabled her to demonstrate that by the time of Epiphany (note here another missed oportunity - Liturgical Appreciation) the recipient of the gifts would have been the owner of 12 partridges, 22 turtle doves, 30 French hens, 36 calling birds, 40 gold rings, 42 geese in an interesting condition, 42 swans, 40 milkmaids, 36 fiddlers, 30 drummers, 22 ladies, and 12 lords in a very curious condition. This is a very different situation from that considered by the candidate.
3.3 Since the covey of partridge ultimately numbers a dozen, the candidate's obsession with the loneliness of one partridge is clearly misplaced and should perhaps become a matter of concern to those who have this young(l suppose) lady's interests at heart. And what about that yellow and black striped jersey? Is there any family history of disappointment with the performance of the St.Mirren football team? - Note that she underestimated the total number of partridges by 11, which number has, I understand, some significance in relation to the type of football played in some parts of the country. I suggest that a psychiatrist should be furnished with an opportunity to observe the candidate.