Oxford University Press — the home of the OED, the only $1000 dictionary you’ll ever need — has united religious conservatives and environmentalists the world over by swapping out words relating to religion and nature for technological and pop culture terms in the latest edition of its Junior Dictionary for children 7 and up. This whole thing broke in the UK back in early December, and the story just now seems to be infuriating “green” parenting bloggers here in North America (tho we read about it first at Next Nature), who are all posting pictures of dandelions and quotes about the power of language.
The OUP argument, which is interesting while also being terribly depressing, basically says that their job is to reflect language as it’s used, and most kids these days live in cities and spend their time hankering for MP3 players, thus they need to get the definition of “bullet point” and “block graph” early, because MP3 players are more expensive than, say, almonds or dandelions. Don’t want the kids to be confused when it’s time to get their TPS report cover sheets in order.
Of course the religious douches came out in force, starting off saying good things but quickly getting it wrong and detouring into lame culture war throwbacks, like blaming the whole thing on political correctness and the influence of multiculturalism. It’s Britain, so of course these losers are HIGHLY concerned about the swap of “celebrity” for “monarchy” — though of course you’d never hear an American religious authority lamenting the loss of words like “elf” from a kid’s dictionary, cuz of the witchcraft. From the Rev Canon Jeremy Haselock in The Telegraph, re: his church’s new Conservapedia-sounding website:
“Thank goodness our stunning new website is unafraid to use vocabulary I have always been naïve enough to believe was basic, and thank goodness it includes an on-line glossary which I now officially designate a non-politically correct, non multicultural supplement to all future editions of OUP’s colourless and romance-free publications.”
We’ve never used the Junior Dictionary — it’s a UK-Canada thing, we guess? — but the update makes it sound like they’re turning an idyllic primer of classic Britannia into a consumer electronics catalog. And while children in the UK will have an even harder time figuring out who’s who in Wind In The Willows (they’re cutting “weasel” AND “stoat”?), perhaps the addition of nature words like “drought” and “allergic” will be more useful after all.
Find the whole list of swapped words after the jump.