I read a post by Robert McFarlane on his word-hoard column that concerned me. Now, I love words, and I love fellow word lovers. Mr. McFarlane is certainly no exception. Who is he? He is active in the preservation of the many words from the various languages once spoken within the United Kingdom. What’s this about? His latest article concerned the words excised from the New Oxford Junior Dictionary. He lamented the loss of words about the earth, and the introduction of words that only concerned technology. I didn’t just feel sad over the loss. I was thoroughly vexed, and so should he have been. Think about this. Someone summarily dismissed words, not antiquated words, but words that connect us to something other than technology, to something that is real and is uplifting and beautiful, to a world that feeds our soul rather than suck our time and the life out of us so we don’t connect personally. These were words that represented the miraculous beauty of our world. Here’s what he wrote:
A new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary was published. A sharp-eyed reader noticed that there had been a culling of words concerning nature. Under pressure, Oxford University Press revealed a list of the entries it no longer felt to be relevant to a modern-day childhood. The deletions included acorn, adder, ash, beech, bluebell, buttercup, catkin, conker, cowslip, cygnet, dandelion, fern, hazel, heather, heron, ivy, kingfisher, lark, mistletoe, nectar, newt, otter, pasture and willow. The words taking their places in the new edition included attachment, block-graph, blog, broadband, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, committee, cut-and-paste, MP3 player and voice-mail. As I had been entranced by the language preserved in the prose‑poem of the “Peat Glossary”, so I was dismayed by the language that had fallen (been pushed) from the dictionary. For blackberry, read Blackberry. ~ Friday, February 27, 2015 The Guardian
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m upset. I don’t just lament their loss, I want to do something about it. What do we do? Contact the companies printing these dictionaries, write your local newspaper, bring it to the attention of everyone you can. We should be more interested in teaching our children lots of words to describe the world around them, rather than words only concerning the electronic devices their noses are glued to most of the day. What do they think education is for? What dictionaries are for?
I always believed that education and books were about opening their horizons, teaching them about the world and their history. Are we to believe that the only words worth knowing are those that have to do with the Internet and political and corporate speak? Or do they go to school to learn about our language, our history, civic responsibility, mathematics, philosophy, science, and literature? I pray it is the latter, but I don’t think that’s what’s happening.
Since when does the word chatroom take precedence over an otter, or broadband have more beauty than a bluebell? Look at that face. Do you want your child to look at that cute aquatic thing and say, “What is that?” and we’ve lost the name of that adorable creature to the word blog? What is wrong with us?
The next time you see an incredible heron fly by, don’t say, “What kind of bird is that?” You should know, because I told you that it is a heron, a magnificent bird frequenting wetlands. Here’s a picture so you won’t forget… Ladies and Gentlemen, a Heron! Blogging is stupid, and what cretin decided to take buttercup out of the kid’s dictionary? Fire them!
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