Friday, April 10, 2009

Loss of Nature words

This was brought to my attention in a twitter from Orion Magazine. The latest edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary is getting rid of the following words, many of which pertain to Nature and replacing them with words also listed below. The replacement vocabulary does not look very inspiring even if it is more reflective of a the contemporary experience of growing up in an urban environment. The thinking seems to be the as children are more often growing up in environments that are not connected to Nature that the words that used to be useful are no longer required. Sad I think. And also dangerous as you would think in this period of climate change that children more than ever need to be connected to the natural world and understand the importance of that relationship to them. The loss of words signifies that deeper loss of connection.

Words taken out:
Coronation, duchess, duke, emperor, empire, monarch, decade, carol, cracker, holly, ivy, mistletoe, dwarf, elf, goblin, abbey, aisle, altar, bishop, chapel, christen, disciple, minister, monastery, monk, nun, nunnery, parish, pew, psalm, pulpit, saint, sin, devil, vicar.

Adder, ass, beaver, boar, budgerigar, bullock, cheetah, colt, corgi, cygnet, doe, drake, ferret, gerbil, goldfish, guinea pig, hamster, heron, herring, kingfisher, lark, leopard, lobster, magpie, minnow, mussel, newt, otter, ox, oyster, panther, pelican, piglet, plaice, poodle, porcupine, porpoise, raven, spaniel, starling, stoat, stork, terrapin, thrush, weasel, wren.

Acorn, allotment, almond, apricot, ash, bacon, beech, beetroot, blackberry, blacksmith, bloom, bluebell, bramble, bran, bray, bridle, brook, buttercup, canary, canter, carnation, catkin, cauliflower, chestnut, clover, conker, county, cowslip, crocus, dandelion, diesel, fern, fungus, gooseberry, gorse, hazel, hazelnut, heather, holly, horse chestnut, ivy, lavender, leek, liquorice, manger, marzipan, melon, minnow, mint, nectar, nectarine, oats, pansy, parsnip, pasture, poppy, porridge, poultry, primrose, prune, radish, rhubarb, sheaf, spinach, sycamore, tulip, turnip, vine, violet, walnut, willow

Words put in:
Blog, broadband, MP3 player, voicemail, attachment, database, export, chatroom, bullet point, cut and paste, analogue.

Celebrity, tolerant, vandalism, negotiate, interdependent, creep, citizenship, childhood, conflict, common sense, debate, EU, drought, brainy, boisterous, cautionary tale, bilingual, bungee jumping, committee, compulsory, cope, democratic, allergic, biodegradable, emotion, dyslexic, donate, endangered, Euro.

Apparatus, food chain, incisor, square number, trapezium, alliteration, colloquial, idiom, curriculum, classify, chronological, block graph.


Dale said...

Oh. Oh, that's ghastly.

austin said...

I know. It does not make sense. Magpie, pelican, leopard and oats taken out? It feels like a mass extinction.
Maybe our blogs might have to be the new home of all these words (aka experiences) we wish to preserve?

tpe said...

Hello, Austin, how are you doing today?

How terribly depressing. I don't have any real problem with the words being added, I should say, merely with the fact that it is deemed necessary (or desirable) to get rid of so many of the "old" words. I'm not sure that I understand the logic of such a decision, either:

The thinking seems to be that as children are more often growing up in environments that are not connected to Nature.....the words that used to be useful are no longer required.

Hmm. I would have thought that the exact opposite would have been a more fitting response. And so we would have:

The thinking seems to be that as children are more often growing up in environments that are not connected to Nature....the words are now being highlighted in huge great big letters so that they don't forget or lose sight of their heritage altogether. A spokesperson said: "We don't want an army of ignorant navel-gazers coming through the ranks, after all, and we also feel it would be illogical and unusually cruel to deny any child the chance to expand his or her horizon."

That would be nice, wouldn't it?

And I wonder, incidentally, if they apply this way of thinking to other matters? Most children, for example, don't live in an environment directly connected to space exploration, say, or to the life and works of Mozart. Does this then mean that the language often used to describe such things should be filtered from their spheres of learning? A horrifying thought, no?

Everything about this feels wrong. And horrible. And retrograde. And utterly, stupidly, hurtfully misguided.

Anyway, I share your distaste and unease. (And it's a nice thought, by the way, that bloggers may become the guardians of these discarded words. Nice, but a little bit frightening, too.)

Kind regards etc....


(Oh, I'm so hacked off. I lost my original response and have had to spend too long trying to remember what I was saying. I hope you offer refunds. Or, at the very least, a reimbursement of travelling expenses.)

tpe said...

(I flew economy class, don't worry. That's still £800 you owe me - or however this translates into Australian money. Hand it over, Austin, or learn to live with regret.)

austin said...

Maybe the words themselves will revolt and demand their rights etc.

Hello tpe,
well I did forget to claim my expenses for visiting you so now we are even!

You ask how I am and I reach for a word to convey 'bamadoozlewhheedambled'. This basically means I am about to crash but will honour your words with more words when my brain resurrects. But in the mean time I must ask you if you have read a novel called Netherlands by Joseph O'Neil. I don't seem to finish many books these days but I enjoyed hoovering up this one and guess what it's main theme is.. yep you got it.. cricket.. or at least cricket is one of the main strands.
It is a fine book methinks.
Anyway I learnt more about cricket too. And it seemed to reflect your sentiments on the subject.

All the Best to you and yours,

tpe said...


I see.

A common word round these parts, of course, as I'm sure you can imagine, but I thought it might be worth my while googling it. Just, you know, in case.

But Google merely asks: "did you mean bamadoozlewheedambled?" I don't know, Mr Google, did I? Let's just say that I did mean to say that, though. What then? "Your search did not match any documents."

Do you ever get the feeling that these search engines are a bit snippy? They mock us, Austin, they play with our minds. And they most certainly don't care for invention. Dark days, Australian, dark days.

Hello. I shouldn't worry about answering in good time. Take a week. Take a month. Take four months and seventeen days. A slowly delivered courtesy is better than no courtesy at all. (I think I once left someone waiting on my Flickr page for upwards of six months, so I'm hardly in a position to complain if someone takes their time responding. Still, get a move on.)

No, I haven't read that book, unfortunately, although I have a very strong feeling I've heard of it. As I have to read every single word of a book once I start - including the copyright notices and date of publication and God knows what else - I tend to choose my fiction very carefully (or my girlfriend sometimes forces me to read something she's read, trampling over any objections).

I had better luck searching for your book, though, and feel that I definitely want to read it. One classic highlight: We courted in the style preferred by the English: alcoholically.


Although not as nice as this, perhaps, as he talks about cricket: ....the American adaptation is devoid of the beauty of cricket played on a lawn of appropriate dimensions, where the white-clad ring of infielders, swanning figures on the vast oval, again and again converge in unison toward the batsman and again and again scatter back to their starting points, a repetition of pulmonary rhythm, as if the field breathed through its luminous visitors.

Sold. I'm off to Amazon to do what is necessary, right and just. Thank you.

Tally-ho and kind regards etc...