The good news first – there are other dictionaries.
The bad news – Oxford is dumping necessary words out of their junior edition to make more room for up-to-date word usage.
Oxford University Press has removed words like “aisle”, “bishop”, “chapel”, “empire” and “monarch” from its Junior Dictionary and replaced them with words like “blog”, “broadband” and “celebrity”. Dozens of words related to the countryside have also been culled.
The publisher claims the changes have been made to reflect the fact that Britain is a modern, multicultural, multifaith society.
But academics and head teachers said that the changes to the 10,000 word Junior Dictionary could mean that children lose touch with Britain’s heritage.
Aisles are also found in grocery stores, not just churches. Bishops are also found in chess. Chapel, well, besides Nurse Chapel I’ve got no example. But why dump empire and monarch? There is such a thing as a monarch butterfly and there is such a thing as an empire waist on some styles of dress.
The more words a kid can learn and understand and use properly in sentences, the better off they’ll be, won’t they?
I see they removed more than they put in. Look at this list!
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
Right, because they’ll never need to know about bran or poultry or spaniels.
But, some people are more upset about the loss of church-related terminology:
Lisa Saunders, a worried mother who has painstakingly compared entries from the junior dictionaries, aimed at children aged seven or over, dating from 1978, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2007, said she was “horrified” by the vast number of words that have been removed, most since 2003.
“The Christian faith still has a strong following,” she said. “To eradicate so many words associated with the Christianity will have a big effect on the numerous primary schools who use it.”
Why? Won’t the kids in Christian families be exposed to those words at home or church anyway? I’d be far more pissed off over how many plants and animals got the axe so kids could learn how to spell “celebrity” and “cut and paste.” I just hope they’re encouraged to read a lot so they get exposed to all these words. They’re going to need them eventually.
In all honesty, I didn’t think much about how it was decided what words to include in a children’s dictionary. I had a copy of the Charlie Brown one when I was a kid but not for school use. At school I had a real dictionary, not a junior edition. I had a thesaurus, too. That thing was damned handy in English class. I suspect a lot of kids have never seen one in use.
Words are power. That’s the reason why the pen is mightier than the sword after all. When you take away someone’s ability to describe the world around them, you limit them.