The Oxford University Press has been quietly making some controversial changes to their 10,000-word children's reference, the Oxford Junior...
The Oxford University Press has been quietly making some controversial changes to their 10,000-word children's reference, the Oxford Junior Dictionary. They've replaced a host of nature words, like acorn, otter, and blackberry, with new tech words like blog, broadband, and, yes, BlackBerry.The rationale, from Vineeta Gupta, who heads the children's dictionary division over there, was that words are selected based on how likely they were to be used by children:"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."As that article notes, Canadian conservationist Robert Bateman is upset-and to read some of the comments there, so is a broader swath of humanity.The changes are a sign of the times, to be sure, and we can lament the marginalization of nature in our lives (I do), but the job of the Oxford University Press isn't to symbolically save our ecosystem, it's to codify our current lexicon. Moreover, preserving otter in the dictionary probably won't preserve any additional actual otters out there in the wild.The debate is moot anyway because kids are abandoning tree-pulp dictionaries for digital ones, which aren't limited to 10,000 words. This is not the most important battle for conservationists to fight.But it's interesting. Here's the full list of words that have been added and removed.Via PSFK.