The new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary has removed 50 words to do with nature and the countryside, and replaced them with words associated with computers and social media, much to the consternation of several famous writers, who have penned a letter of protest. You won’t find the words acorn, buttercup, or conker in the new dictionary, but you will find attachment, blog, and chatroom.
In a letter to Oxford University Press, the protesters write “We recognize the need to introduce new words and to make room for them and do not intend to comment in detail on the choice of words added. However it is worrying that in contrast to those taken out, many are associated with the interior, solitary childhoods of today. In light of what is known about the benefits of natural play and connection to nature; and the dangers of their lack, we think the choice of words to be omitted shocking and poorly considered.” Robert MacFarlane, author of Landmarks, a book that examines the link between landscape and language, comments: “We do not care for what we do not know, and on the whole we do not know what we cannot name. Do we want an alphabet for children that begins ‘A is for Acorn, B is for Buttercup, C is for Conker’; or one that begins ‘A is for Attachment, B is for Block-Graph, C is for Chatroom’?” A spokesperson for OUD, meanwhile, said “All our dictionaries are designed to reflect language as it is used, rather than seeking to prescribe certain words or word usages.”