The Oxford University Press recently got rid of 50 nature terms in order to make room in the Junior Dictionary for technology-related words.
According to the Oxford Times, 50 words have been removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary aimed at seven-year-olds. Teachers and authors, including Margaret Atwood, Andrew Motion, Michael Morpurgo and Robert Macfarlane, are criticizing Oxford University Press for removing certain nature terms in order to make room in the dictionary for hi-tech words.
Words like, acorn, bluebell, conker, chestnut, and minnow have been replaced with analogue, broadband, blog, chatroom, and cut and paste.
Teachers and the group of authors against this move are worried that switching these terms will only solidify the fact that children are spending less time outdoors; 40 percent of children never play outdoors, to be exact.
Head teacher Clare Bladen at West Oxford Primary School said, “Technical language is part of children’s everyday speech, but they might not necessarily come across words like chestnut and conker, so they should stay in the dictionary.”
Opponents of the addition of these technological terms wrote a letter to the Oxford University Press stressing that the nature words should stay in the dictionary. With less children able to spend time outdoors with their playmates, their free time is instead filled with solitary screen time.
It is worrying that in contrast to those words taken out, many [of the words added] are associated with the solitary childhoods of today…A deliberate and publicised decision to restore some of the most important nature words would be a tremendous cultural signal and message of support for natural childhood.
An Oxford University Press spokeswoman responded saying that the Oxford Junior Dictionary “includes around 400 words related to nature.”
Other words recently removed include:
Heron, herring, kingfisher, lark, leopard, lobster, magpie, minnow, mussel, newt, otter, ox, oyster, and panther.
The future of conservation lies within our youth; they need to know these terms in order to protect the nature around them.