Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Words our children no longer need to know


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. Coronation, duchess, duke, emperor, empire, monarch, decade. 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.

These are words that Oxford University Press has removed from the latest edition of its Junior Dictionary. I find this all so depressing that I can't bring myself to pass comment. Except to say that I find this all so depressing . . .


13 comments:

Nan said...

This is the oddest thing I've heard of. I thought the job of dictionaries was to add, add, add. Not subtract. And those words - what are they thinking.

Nan said...

I went to the link you provided - the blog, and I got to thinking that I've never known a child to look up a word without coercion anyhow, so maybe the last laugh is on the dictionary folks. :<)

monix said...

Unbelievable isn't it?. Is the new edition of the Junior Dictionary in text-speak format? We wouldn't want the little darlings to work too hard at the English language.

60 Going On 16 said...

Speechless - or should that be wordless? - of Devon here. If you had written this post on 1 April, we would all have assumed that it was just an April Fool's joke.

Beyond sad. Beyond belief.

Joanna said...

Typical of the DTel to fixate on religion, when, really, looking at the list, it's the natural world that's the huge loser. What an amazing task that mother set herself.

Very thought-provoking post, thanks

Joanna

crimeficreader said...

Thanks for the link, Julia. I really must get around to updating my links this weekend and adding you in. I have been promising myself this little admin task for months!

KSV Woolfoot said...

OK, so they don't go in for heritage, I suppose that's to be expected, but "bramble"? "oats"? "tulip"? What can they possibly be thinking in Oxford?

Rob Spence said...

The "Christian" words are actually mostly common parlance. I wouldn't want to preserve them because they are Christian, but because they are words that any civilised person should know.
The animal cull is bizarre- why should raven and tter go?
I suspect that this was doneby some very junior person, whose brief was to take a word out for each new word that went in. Ther's no discernible principle here, and the argument of OUP looks very much as if it was constructed after the event. (I was going to write post hoc, but of course it's virtually a crime to use Latin tags these days).

Juxtabook said...

Scary stuff. I can actually remember having to look up the word "chapel", which apparently is also evicted. I was ajunior school child trying to send a card to a friend who lived on Chapel Lane. Nothing to do with chapels being part of my life or not. The lane still exists even in the world of ipods.

cambstreasurer said...

And "gerbil"? "hamster"? I'm inclined to feel that indignation maybe shouldn't be directed towards OUP (who maybe really are just following, not leading), but with absolute horror towards an educational establishment that doesn't see anything wrong with battery farming city children.

debutnovelist said...

On a slightly different tack, was recently out for a seasonal drink in the company of colleagues of my (our) generation and a group of undergraduates. Here are a couple of phrases the students didn't know (and really don't need to!)
- double declutch (remember that one?)
- party line (nothing political, but as many of our phones used to be!)
Seriously, the list you give seems somewhere between randomly bizarre and seriously scary.

Cathy said...

Thanks for alerting me to this, Juliet! I too have added a blog post about it.

Carson Park Ranger said...

Children have wanted to unlearn the meaning of "spinach" ever since they started canning the stuff.