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Author Topic: Arrgh! Shrinking the language!  (Read 1564 times) Average Rating: 0
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Ebor
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« on: December 09, 2008, 01:32:16 PM »

I was reading "The Telegraph" on-line (an English newspaper that I've been using for my PoliSci class) and came across this story today about what words have been taken out of recent editions of the Oxford University Press Junior Dictionary.  The reason given is that the book has to be of a size that children can handle and that limits them to 10,000 words some words are taken out, like some animals and plants because many children do not live in areas that are closer to nature.  <grrr>  How might the knowledge of these things be learnt then?  Other words that have been excised come from history, the monarchy and the church.  Let me be clear that I do *not* think this is some kind of anti-Christian subterfuge.  I can imagine someone thinking along the lines of "Why do we need "nunnery" in the dictionary?"  with no thought of purging religious belief.  But I object to cutting back on vocabulary and taking away the old only to make room for some new words like "mp3 player" or "blog" 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/3569045/Words-associated-with-Christianity-and-British-history-taken-out-of-childrens-dictionary.html

Now I want an emoticon of banging my head on the keyboard or grinding my teeth....

Ebor
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« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2008, 02:02:36 PM »

Ugh, I agree.  It's for the words that fall out of common usage that we need dictionaries in the first place.  One only has to go to literature printed even fifty years ago to see terms we no longer commonly hear and I'd rather see specialized dictionaries for technology and business, since those terms change so rapidly, than to have words excised from the lexicon.
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« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2008, 04:26:15 PM »

Of the links of the side of that page cracked me up.  It read: "Jesus: God or Fraud?  Click here to find out!"
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« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2008, 05:31:16 PM »

Hmm. I feel that it would be better to have words in the dictionary that children are not likely to know. By the time a child can use a dictionary, why would it be necessary to look up words like "sock" or "eat" or "good"? We need words like "fraud" and "excise" and "specialized" in the dictionary. These are words children are not likely to know, and therefore are the ones for which they need a dictionary.
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« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2008, 05:47:10 PM »

Hopefully, they haven't excised these words from the Word a Day e-mails one can sign up for? I figured since many children have become the equivalent of human houseplants in front of the computer, educators could sneak some of these important cultural words in and, I dunno, jazz it up:

Nunnery: a convent of nuns
Example: "As silly as he was, Spongebob could not find a girlfriend and was forced to bother the local nunnery for one."
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« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2008, 05:55:58 PM »

Usually the word a day emails have really unusual words you don't normally hear in conversation.  I used to subscribe to one that did themes, such as words for criminal activities in 18th century London.  Great fun!  The only problem was they'd clog my email box if I missed checking it for a week.
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« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2008, 05:59:51 PM »

LOL, I know! Cheesy
Mine have begun to pile up!

They have kid-based word a day things, though. Don't know how they measure up.
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« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2008, 11:01:54 PM »

I showed our 15 y.o. son the article and some of the comments that "Telegraph" readers have posted.  He (a great reader) thought that removing those words was quite ridiculous and was suddenly struck with inspiration when he lowered his voice to baritone/high bass and said


"I find your lack of vocabulary disturbing...."

 Grin


one comment was that with the removal of both "monarch" and "corgi" the new dictionary must be a covert attack on Her Majesty the Queen.   Cheesy


Ebor
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« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2008, 12:09:50 AM »

Quote
"I find your lack of vocabulary disturbing...."

Lol. Smiley

I have to ask, what is the point behind using a "Junior" dictionary? I mean, what specific purpose does it serve that a regular dictionary does not? When I was a kid we just used a regular dictionary.
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« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2008, 11:23:20 AM »

^Indeed, you have a good point here.  I say an OED for every house!
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« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2008, 12:11:22 PM »

Quote
"I find your lack of vocabulary disturbing...."

Lol. Smiley

I have to ask, what is the point behind using a "Junior" dictionary? I mean, what specific purpose does it serve that a regular dictionary does not? When I was a kid we just used a regular dictionary.

^Indeed, you have a good point here.  I say an OED for every house!

Well, we have the OED and junior dictionaries (though not the OUP ones) in our house and I can tell you why both are good to have.  The OED is the 2 volume cinderblock   err mighty Tome set with 4 pages printed on each page in tiny print* (and wouldn't you know that the children seem to have carried off the magnifying glass that came with it  Cheesy ).  It is the dictionary of choice for meanings, roots and origins of words in the English language and it doesn't leave things out.  When the older children (15 and 12) don't know what a word means they get referred to that.

Our youngest however, who is learning to read and with his Downs needs a bit more help, is very fond of his Dr. Suess Dictionary which has a picture with each word and they are all words that a small to medium child can be expected to need/read/use at some point.  That's helping him to learn on an age and ability appropriate level.  It's a matter of building a vocabulary and learning how to spell words that are needed.  It's the same with the Sign Language that he's used.  There are many concepts in standard Amercan Sign Language that adults use, but children don't.  So we have a large dictionary of "Signed English" which has many signs that are more concrete and that children are more likely to use. For example, it has signs for "Incredible Hulk" and "dinosaur" and "monster" which small boys, I think, are more likely to want then many adults.  Wink   Just to clarify, his speech is delayed, so signing with the word being said at the same time is another way for him to communicate and learn English.

Also, the older children when they were small would have found the OED hard to handle and confusing to find a particular word without help from an adult. So they also had smaller dictionaries and now I think they each have a Merriam-Webster or the like on their desks for (theoretical) consultation. 

Having more then one way to increase knowledge is a Good Thing and different people/ages/abilities etc can find having more then one way to get information very useful. 

Ebor



*as may be referred to in an old filksong

"Oh you need teeny tiny eyes
 For reading teeny tiny print
 Like you need teeny tiny hands
 For milking mice"

"...Like you need teeny tiny hooks
  For micro-fiche" 

« Last Edit: December 10, 2008, 12:12:47 PM by Ebor » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2008, 12:14:28 PM »

Ok, that makes sense.  Mr. Y and I have several varieties of dictionaries, including a visual dictionary for when you have no idea what something is called but you know what it looks like and a reverse dictionary for people like me who have a raging case of lethologica.  Wink
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« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2008, 04:56:28 PM »

Yes, thank you for the explanation Ebor Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2008, 01:02:35 AM »



^Indeed, you have a good point here.  I say an OED for every house!

Well, we have the OED and junior dictionaries (though not the OUP ones) in our house and I can tell you why both are good to have.  The OED is the 2 volume cinderblock   err mighty Tome set with 4 pages printed on each page in tiny print* (and wouldn't you know that the children seem to have carried off the magnifying glass that came with it  Cheesy ).  It is the dictionary of choice for meanings, roots and origins of words in the English language and it doesn't leave things out.  When the older children (15 and 12) don't know what a word means they get referred to that.

I used to have the OED on my Amazon.com wishlist but I removed it once I realized that no one I know can afford to buy me one. . . including me. Wink
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« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2008, 01:58:22 PM »

I'm still holding out hope on my Amazon list.  Grin
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« Reply #15 on: December 18, 2008, 07:12:24 PM »

If I ever come into a lot of money I'll buy you one. Wink
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