Sunday, December 07, 2008

The sun never sets on the British...

...MP3 Player?"

That sentence was written with the help of the latest edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary, which throws out a sheaf -- no, "sheaf" is one of the words excised, as is "empire" -- of words considered obsolete, unnecessary or, horror of horrors, not "multicultural" enough for the yoots of today.

There is a great outcry among Christians that many of the words now relegated to the dustbin of history (or at least restricted to larger dictionaries for larger people) are associated with their religion. That does seem odd, as England has historically been a rather overtly Christian nation. That has changed somewhat in recent years with an influx of Muslim immigrants, and the Brits seem almost suicidal in their desire to make sure they are an "inclusive" and "tolerant" nation.

It is that Euro-centric insistence on throwing away your own culture to make different cultures feel "at home" that will, in time, sap the last energy out of Western Civilization.

PARENTHETICAL I-LOVE-MELTING-POTS THOUGHT: There is nothing wrong with making a place for people of different backgrounds. But what we have lost is the "melting" aspect of the "pot." As we coexist with different and interesting people, all must make allowances for differing customs, languages and beliefs. When one -- particularly one not part of local traditions -- demands preferential treatment, that is simply wrong.

But I digress (slightly).

From the Telegraph (UK) article: "Vineeta Gupta [that's a name that, for an arbiter of what is proper English vocabulary, makes my white-boy resentful reactions surface], the head of children's dictionaries at Oxford University Press, said: "...When you look back at older versions of dictionaries, there were lots of examples of flowers for instance. That was because many children lived in semi-rural environments and saw the seasons. Nowadays, the environment has changed. We are also much more multicultural. People don't go to Church as often as before. Our understanding of religion is within multiculturalism, which is why some words such as "Pentecost" or "Whitsun" would have been in 20 years ago but not now."

So kids don't need to know about flowers? Per Vineeta Gupta and the Oxford people, they also don't need to know about altars, saints, sins, devils or coronations.

Oh, hell. Here's the list of excised words. Decide for yourself: 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

I think life would be damn dull without poodles, spaniels and budgerigars, but what do I know?

I am only one who has, for many years, made a living stringing words together. One of the things that has worked in my favor is that I tend to place interesting words in those strings.

And where did I begin to learn them? From children's books. No, not modern ones, but the children's readers and stories of a century or more ago. They contained words that would send the kids of today -- and many younger adults -- scurrying for their dictionaries. Where they would find no help, by the way.

Of course the multicultural, keep-it-modern lexicographers have added new words: 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

Never mind that some of those don't, in my view, qualify as words....

My poor language is dying. In another century, people will be communicating with grunts and pictographs.

I don't care. I won't be here to see it. But it bugs me right now.


Anonymous said...

It has been my belief for years that if you cannot say it, you cannot think it.

The drab and dreary vocab of many of today's yoots has been a source of dismay and annoyance for decades.

DAL said...

Who needs a dictionary when we have the Wikipedia? Oh, wait. I read something about the Wiki being blocked and or filtered by UK ISPs...

Birdie said...

I would really like to know Simon's opinion of this entry!

John0 said...

I find the manipulation of thought and language under the pretext of progress, and "changing times" quite annoying. The crazy ass people who promote it and condone it don't strike me as agenda free individuals.