"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

Thomas Jefferson
Sept. 23, 1800

Monday, December 8, 2008

England Abandon's English

The latest version of the Oxford University Press' Junior English Dictionary drops words referring to Christianity, Britain and nature in favor of more "modern" computer and pop-psychology terms. The changes have traditionalists up in arms, and rightly so. Take a look at the Telegraph's listing of what's in and what's out:

Words taken out:

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

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

I understand the dictionary's need to be relevant to today's children and remain small enough to be practical to them, but this is still scary. Lots of attention has been drawn to the deletion of Christian terminology, especially in the comments to the original article, and they are all valid points. But look at the list of removed words and see what really sticks out. Mother nature is taking it on the chin!

Great Britain is surely losing much of its countryside, but do they have to lose all the language that goes along with it? Humans are products of their environment, whether they ever see it in its natural state or not. A child who grows up seeing only concrete and steel and plastic loses the appreciation that man is not supreme.

In a man-made world, man makes the laws. This is easy for a child who knows no better to believe, to his own detriment. We are children of Nature and Nature's God who has endowed each of us with rights that no man can take away. To understand that on any real level requires a vocabulary that recognizes nature. If we take away the words, we take away the reality for all too many.

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