Wednesday, December 10, 2008


An article in the Telegraph tells how a leading children's dictionary has dropped words relating to religion, history, and the countryside.

"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.

""We have a certain Christian narrative which has given meaning to us over the last 2,000 years. To say it is all relative and replaceable is questionable," said Professor Alan Smithers, the director of the centre for education and employment at Buckingham University. "The word selections are a very interesting reflection of the way childhood is going, moving away from our spiritual background and the natural "world and towards the world that information technology creates for us.""

In the US, Roger Kimball gives us the list of "dropped" words, which I will reproduce here to show this is not a "mere" religious issue but a massive rejection of history and nature:

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

Ones added? I can't bring myself to print them all, but here are three, in order:

"Celebrity, tolerant, vandalism."

As one wise atheist knows, this is no way to run a culture. We need roots, and some respect for country life.


mdmnm said...

Well, at least they added "food chain", even though it isn't a word but rather two. Given the subtractions, things might get tricky. I envision an entry along the lines of "Food chain- an arrangement of organisms in order of consumption. Ex. The ____(would have been acorn) was eaten by the ____(would have been piglet) which was butchered and made into _____(would have been bacon) which Sally fed to her _____(would have been corgi) at breakfast because she preferred _____ (would have been porridge)."

LabRat said...

It's very difficult for me to look at something like this and NOT see it as a very deliberate attempt to cut a generation adrift from the foundations of the culture they live in- starting with removing their ability to understand and connect with anything written before 1980 or so.

Of course, I know I'm overreacting, and that truly curious children build their OWN vocabularies anyway, but still.

Also, one of the ideas I've been playing with lately that seems to be refusing to knit itself together (and I'm starting to wonder if anything WILL until the damned holidays are over), is the idea of religions as deeply complicit with the broader culture they form in- theism may not be necessary to being a moral citizen of (insert Western nation here), but Christianity and Judaism may be necessary to any sort of accurate understanding of the culture itself. Attempting to excise them is to render the resulting product culturally illiterate and inept.

Peculiar said...

It's worse than I thought. I had heard plenty of people griping about the religious excisions, and I'm way past being surprised or shocked by that. But otter? Raven? Even the hideously P.C. types are supposed to like those. Very depressing.

Steve Bodio said...

"P.C. types are supposed to like those."

Apparently not in Official England, though such phenomena as Show of Hands and Rob Macfarlane suggest the rot is not universal.

Nagrom said...

Such words are not necessary for the Subject to accept and function within the caring, enveloping, protective embrace of their government. No Subject need be burdened with such excesses of knowledge which might only confuse and frighten them, causing dissent and rejection of the safety and security assured by the collective.

Merry old England is gone, done, finished. The remaining sane there should flee, and quickly.
Of course, where to flee to is the question. Where isn't following suit in some fashion?
Was just talking with some friends at the bar tonight about the death of language, with a resounding "Meh", and we all thought we were smart and making a funny. On second thought, feel like the funny was on us.

Ken Chiacchia said...

Something isn't adding up here: hazelnut? What if the kid asks mommy what her hazelnut latte is about? Elf? Are English publishers to infuriate their stockholders by failing to reprint the Harry Potter books? They're not just cutting words connected with culture and history: They're cutting words they know very well are already in common usage among their dictionary's consumers.

If this is some kind of wooly headed attempt at social engineering, I think it's failed before it started.

smartdogs said...

The insanity of political correctness....

If you're not part of a displaced, down-trodden minority - you are by default an oppressor who must be erased from existence - and now it appears, also from memory.

prairie mary said...

I'm laughing. This dictionary will be of very little use for children who read Harry Potter, eh? These seem like very Harry Potter words.

Prairie Mary

Steve Bodio said...

One of my thoughts, Mary. An awful lot of children's lit, from The Wind in the Willows to The Sword in the Stone, is now off limits.

Moro Rogers said...

So what do they call those things in the supermarket?

LabRat said...

Fantasy fiction as the savior of the roots of Western civilization?

I like it.