Wednesday, 18 February 2015

ABCs of Dictionaries …



Knowledge of words and their meaning is power … words describe the thing, the concept, the idea, the landscape, the sky etc – where would we be without them?

 


Nature and wildlife are essential to life (our life on earth) … so I was somewhat horrified to read about some of the words that had been removed from the Oxford University Press Junior Dictionary … wait for it … because lots of children have no experience of the countryside …….. doh?! 


Perhaps true, but surely this is a good reason to keep words in?





Dictionaries exist to extend our knowledge, as much (or more) as they do to confirm what we already know or half-know …




I think the thing that got my goat was the words being included for the age group 7 – 11 … were “celebrity”, “MP3 player” and “broadband” … taking out the beautiful descriptive words such as “conker”, “acorn”, or “brook” …



“Blog” was also added in … but who but Lenny of such a young age blog, or know the reason for it … at 7 – 11?  Maybe one or two … but honestly … kids should be playing conkers, by the babbling brook, under the oak tree producing acorns.


Fifty percent of us now live in urban conurbations … but we wouldn’t be here but for life on earth … all our knowledge comes from this wonderful natural world of ours … it doesn’t come from broadband, or MP3 players …

A for Acorn - the fruit of an oak tree



So we must encourage our youngsters to remember words such as A is for Acorn, B is for Brook, C is for Conker, D is for Dictionary or Dog …





I grew up with these words … not D for Dog, but C for Cat … the Acorn is an amazing fruit which gives us that incredible oak tree, which will over time look after over 200 other species during its 250 year lifetime …


C for Conker - the fruit of the Horse
Chestnut tree

We played C for conkers … a childhood game – that may be a bit rough now … banished by the Health and Safety Peeps, while the Horse Chestnut tree is succumbing to Bleeding Canker – a lethal bacterial infection.




Two things here … do we not want our children to be interested in Botany and ancillary disciplines?  Also we should remember Anne Frank – this was the tree she mentioned in her diary … I have to say I did not know this.


Our food comes directly or indirectly
from plants, such as rice here

… and not A is for Attachment, B is for Block-graph, C is for Chatroom, D is for Dialogue … R is for ridiculous?!


In delisting these words we will lose their connotations and thus our descriptive phrases of the great outdoors … without language we will eventually lose the land itself.



B for brook
I checked in on B for brook … we had one nearby that as a family we’d walk to, paddle in, play Pooh Sticks, or just watch it babble away … as Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809 – 1892) describes in his poem “The Brook”:



I come from haunts of coot and hern,
I make a sudden sally
And sparkle out among the fern,
To bicker down a valley.

By thirty hills I hurry down,
Or slip between the ridges,
By twenty thorpes, a little town,
And half a hundred bridges.

Til last by Philip’s farm I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

I chatter over stony ways,
In little sharps and trebles,
I bubble into eddying bays,
I babble on the pebbles.

With many a curve my banks I fret
By many a field and fallow
And many a fairy foreland set
With willow-weed and mallow.

I chatter, chatter as I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

I wind about, and in and out,
With here a blossom sailing,
And here and there a lusty trout,
And here and there a grayling.

And here and there a foamy flake
Upon me, as I travel
With many a silvery waterbreak
Above the golden gravel,

And draw them all along, and flow
To join the brimming river
For men may come and men may go
But I go on for ever.

I steal by lawns and grassy plots,
I slide by hazel covers;
I move the sweet forget-me-nots
That grow for happy lovers.

I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance,
Among my skimming swallows;
I make the netted sunbeam dance
Against my sandy shallows.

I murmur under moon and stars
In brambly wildernesses;
I linger by my shingly bars;
I loiter round my cresses;

And out again I curve and flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go
But I go on for ever.

Pooh Bear and Christopher Robin
playing Pooh Sticks


PS H is for Hip … improving rapidly – walking without sticks, but taking one when I do my long walks – half an hour or so at the moment … stretching out each day.






Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories 

56 comments:

Bob Scotney said...

I just hope they haven't deleted goat as well! Why do they need to take them out at all?

Linda said...

Apparently H is for healing, too. Glad things are improving. I had no idea such words would be removed from any dictionary. That is R for ridiculous.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

I am stunned that they have deleted any words!!!! Adding some in possibly yes, but removing them is crazy. Love the verse, it is beautiful. Hope you are well Diane

Nilanjana Bose said...

Hi Hilary,
Good to know you are getting better rapidly. Blithely encouraging the disconnect between urban kiddies and nature seems totally insane. Tennyson is a favourite, and that particular verse inspired our greatest poet, Tagore, to write one (The River) similar, though much longer. All the best.

Out on the prairie said...

I had better keep my old dictionaries . I have 4 within reach, one old paperback really tattered. I do catch brook trout in a trout stream. If it weren't denoted as a cold water stream it often is a creek.

Annalisa Crawford said...

Good to hear the recovery is going well - soon be high-jumping again.

Surely, if we only read about things we already have knowledge of we wouldn't need to read about them - dictionaries are there to encourage the use of new words and help us understand words we don't know... like 'acorn' perhaps, or 'brook'? The world is becoming a very peculiar place indeed.

Munir said...

I am glad that you are recovering fine. Before you know you will be totally back to normal.
Dictionary - - - - um - - they make changes according to the use I think. Have they added the word "Selfie" yet?

Chrys Fey said...

I love dictionaries and encyclopedias! I'm such a geek. ;) I think it's cool that "blog" has been added. :)

I'm glad you're healing and recovering well.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

That's a bit disturbing to change those favorites in the dictionary. If I ever forget where you live, I just have to read things like conkers or sticks in your blog while I try to figure out what that means in America. Glad you're doing so well.

Denise Covey said...

Welcome back Hilary! So lovely to see a long post from you again! How's the hip?
I guess hey have to take out words to make room for all the new jargon, gah! I love teaching my students vocabulary and manage to dig up the most unusual words. Amazing how many good everyday words they've never heard of. :-(

Ann Best said...

kids should be playing conkers, by the babbling brook, under the oak tree producing acorns. EXACTLY. And I LOVE Tennyson. Makes me want to go to the bookstore and get a print book of his poems. And I'm so glad your hip is healing, step by careful step. And hooray for a new post, and a thank you for your lovely note on my post. I am really enjoying visiting old friends. I don't think I'll ever stop again. Thanks for your friendship and overwhelming support. Many ((( ))) from your friends across the pond

Janie Junebug said...

The words shouldn't be removed because of lack of experience. Their definitions should be expanded.

Love,
Janie

dolorah said...

Why would you want to remove words from a dictionary. Not like kids don't find an answer to any question they want on google, face book, Mirriam or Webster online dictionary. Why make them think certain things do not exist if they find it elsewhere.

Sometimes this world makes no sense to me. Define Santa Claus and The Easter Bunny, but not let them know what an acorn or brooke is.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I have the Turquoise Woman (Mother Nature) in my novels value Man only for his invention of language which helped focus her mind into coherent thoughts. It was my not-so-subtle way of saying our language helps focus our own humanity and thoughts. Sad to think that many children think milk comes, not from cows, but from machines! If we divorce children from Nature, we will wall them in steel prisons of the mind. Great post. Hope that hip is progressing along much better!

Suzanne Furness said...

It does indeed seem awful to remove such words from the dictionary. I understand language and words are evolving all the time but we should not allow words such as the ones you mention to be forgotten.

Pleased to hear the hip is progressing well.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Bob - I'm not sure about Goat - the Chinese year of ... they always change some of the dictionary words when they do a reprint - getting rid of the archaic ones and bringing new ones in ... but putting these technical words in for the ages 7 - 11 seems (to me!) somewhat crazy.

@ Linda - yes thanks - H is also for healing up helpfully! Glad you like my R for ridiculous ...

@ Diane - I know dictionaries add words and lose words ... it's just natural life is so essential to our own life.

I had to put the poem in - even though the post becomes long ... it is a lovely romantic gentle poem - really evocatively brings our landscape to life ...

@ Nila - thank you so much .. I am improving very well. I know - take the kids out into the parks and show them these delightful fruits, trees, etc

So interesting and informative to read about Tagore - the Bengali polymath who influenced so much of the cultural world of Bengal and India: great to have this comment here.

@ OOTP - I'm glad your dictionaries are within reach .. mine too. There are so many descriptive words brook: stream, burn, creek ("crick"), gill (or "ghyll" - we have those in Sussex) .. and many others ...

I'd love to live near your trout brook or creek and have the opportunity to eat fresh water trout regularly ...

@ Annalisa - these changes the dictionary's editorial team have made have brought forth some robust comments from a group of 50 authors ... the Guardian article sets more of the detail out.

Do 7 year olds know what broadband is? ... at least an acorn they can collect and plant and then watch the fruit grow ... like you mention the world is a very peculiar place.

@ Munir - well on the way to recovery thankfully. They have added "selfie" into the main dictionary I believe ... but really adding in "celebrity" seems a little unnecessary ...

@ Chris - me too ... but I like appropriate words .. and I agree with you re "blog" ... it's just we should be encouraging children to look at nature ...


part 2 following ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Susan - I wondered about my use of 'conker' - not 'stick' though ... and the Englishness in this post ... but I'm glad you know where I live by reading my blog - apart from the spelling differences!!

@ Denise - hip is doing really well: it thanks you!

I imagine teaching English must be really interesting ... but I too am horrified how many people don't think to ask and explore words ... or alternative names for things ... one day we'll meet up and you can tell me more!

@ Ann - that's amazing to see you up and blogging again .. good to see you ... and thank you for the hip's well wishes!!

The Tennyson poem is such a delight - I enjoy typing up poems for the blog - so I can refer back to them ... our conker trees will be coming out once again in May - they are so majestic ...

@ Janie - they have to remove some ... but putting in broadband, celebrity and MP3 for 7 - 11 year olds seems a little unnecessary to me - those things will be out of vogue in a few years ... and understanding the countryside is so important

@ Donna - you can't always find your way round the net for answers to things ... I agree: I don't spend that long ...

It does seem strange the choices that are made sometimes ... include Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny ... and after all the root of the English spoken word around the world is England (Britain) ...

@ Roland - your comment is so relevant ... and now from this I must read your books - as you have loads of wisdom for us ... and ways to get those thoughts across: thanks for highlighting this for me and others.

I know you ask children where things come from ... the supermarket or a machine - it's so sad ...

Great Comment Roland - thanks ...

@ Suzanne - yes like you language is evolving all the time ... but these simple, so descriptive words of our land as it is now (possibly not 10,000 years ago) - who could not love hearing the poem read out ... new words there too (well some new to me: archaic probably .. but lovely all the same!) ... I hope teachers will not forget these words ...

Cheers everyone - thanks so much - the hip is well on the mend ... and after only 4 1/2 weeks I'm doing well. I'll be over to visit shortly - Hilary

Rosalind Adam said...

I can't believe they've removed conker. Kids do still play with them even though many schools have banned the game. Thank you for including the poem. It's years since I read that. It brought back lovely memories :-) Take care on that new hip of yours!

Patsy said...

Surely the very fact that kids have little experience of the countryside is the reason they should be educated about it?

Karen Walker said...

so glad seem to be recovering so nicely. keep up the good work!

Nick Wilford said...

Well, that's ridiculous. By that logic, they should remove "dinosaur" from the dictionary if they're getting rid of things kids don't have direct experience of! We should be encouraging them to explore the great outdoors, not cementing urbanisation. It's funny but also scary. Editing words out of the language smacks of 1984 to me...

Southpaw HR Sinclair said...

Adding is OK; removing is not.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Why would they take out acorn? That makes no sense.

Paula Kaye said...

I didn't know that they removed words from the dictionary. That is ridiculous! I am, however, glad to see you posting. I have missed you

Rhonda Albom said...

Honestly it's the text script that really gets to me, how are these words? As for your words, I didn't know conker, but how can they take out acorn or brook.

Sara said...

Conker confused me, but I appreciated you clarifying it. I read the article and the authors make their point, but I don't think it will change things.

What I don't get is why we always feel the need to toss something out in order to put something new in it's place.

I don't know why there's not enough room for all the words. I suppose being a child's book, there's the assumption that you have to draw the line somewhere to publish it.

Then again, I find myself wondering if they'll be a time when not only words get left behind, but also books. I wonder if the day will come when a young child at a museum, points to a display holding a book and tugs on her mother's hand, asking, "Mommy, what's that?"

On a more cheery note, I'm pleased to read that you are doing better and better each day:~) I've known people who've had hip surgery and you seem to making excellent progress!!! However, this doesn't surprise me. You are truly one of the most resilient people I know!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I can't believe they've removed BROOK. That's ridiculous. Suppose we'll just have to continue using it anyway. Glad you're feeling better, Hilary. Dancing yet?

Jen Forbes said...

If they take them out does that make them not a word?? makes no sense. Makes me wonder what to call all those little things falling out of my oak trees!!

Fil said...

Unbelievable- their short sightedness is astounding.
I'm lad to hear your hip is improving well 😀

Bish Denham said...

I'm appalled. Brook and acorn are out? I'm deeply concerned that this is a slow kind of distancing of kids from nature, a way of making them LESS eco-conscious. And that will only lead to more plastic pollution and the slow strangling death of our habitat.

Gattina said...

You would be surprised how many city children have never seen a cow ! One of my colleagues little girl thought that steaks would grow on trees !
Even small children know what a blog is nowadays and I was startled when I saw my 4 year old grandson using the computer in the Museum of science to see more about Dinosaurs ! The vocabulary changes in all languages, words in German I used in the past are replaced by completely others. The language has changed in the last 55 years. Lots of new words I never heard of when I was a teenager fortunately there is the German TV to keep me up to date !

bazza said...

Hi Hilary. I suppose the job of a dictionary is to reflect words which are being used - not to influence use or meanings of words. So, although I agree with (even love) the sentiment of this post I have to be a bit of a party pooper! The sad reality is that today kids are more interested in their technical toys. We should show our children and grandchildren the wonders of nature; I don't think it's the job of the dictionary to do that!
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabulous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

LD Masterson said...

How the heck is MP3 Player a word? Good grief.

Glad your hip is doing better.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

This is really sad and mind-boggling. How do they justify taking those words out??

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Ros – I enjoy putting poems up occasionally … especially the classic ones (well my versions of classics!). I know the conker game has a bad name now … but I love conkers … the thorny shell and then the shiny nut inside …

@ Patsy – I couldn’t agree more … we need kids to ask about nature and then to go out and find these things – the local parks are likely to have them … Eastbourne has red conker trees outside the library …

@ Karen – thanks

@ Nick – this is the dictionary for the youngest school ages (7 – 11 year olds) … but I just think the decision to include broadband, MP3 etc for that age rather than acorn, brook or conker … is unnecessary. Dinosaur – I wonder if they will remove it .. now that the Natural History Museum will remove their iconic skeleton and replace it with a whale … ?

@ Holly –it appears they have to adjust the number of entries … so some will go …

@ Alex – I agree … unless they’re catering to a world-wide audience … but acorns are found around the world … their decision making process would be interesting to find out about.

@ Paula – yes to keep each dictionary manageable (entry-wise) … and they only update after a number of years (again I’m not sure of those parameters). Thank you – I’ll ease back in to blogging regularly …

@ Rhonda – I agree: strange words they’ve added. Conker I think is probably a very British tree (Horse Chestnut) – even though it’s not native – and is found elsewhere in the world.

@ Sara – Conkers are part of our childhood here. The dictionaries are published for various age groups … and I expect brook, acorn and conker will appear in the next age group version and will definitely appear once they reach adult level: which from your comment you’ve succinctly explained.

Books disappearing won’t happen for a few centuries – and now that they’re worried we won’t be able to use our digital information, because development will have leapt ahead and the latest products won’t be able to decipher the earlier floppy discs with their content.

@ Joylene – I know … especially at that age – where the kids will play in water etc … and if they get a chance play Pooh Sticks …

@ Jen – they are still words and will appear in other dictionaries; what you call those egg-cup things falling from your oak tree – I’ve no idea!!

@ Fil – it’s strange … and I wonder at their logic too

@ Bish – two of those words are very odd to have taken out – brook and acorn: as you say.

Exactly – that’s what I was trying to get across re the kids realising where their food comes from … and the necessity for them to understand the need to know – and us, as adults, to be able to guide them in the right direction … Plastic pollution is horrific, as too our destruction of our earth life …

@ Gattina – I know it horrifies me at how little the children appear to know about the origins of things.

Yes I can believe the kids know about computers and how to use them … but it doesn’t seem necessary to define a blog for 7 – 11 years olds. As you say vocabulary changes in all languages …

@ Bazza – I’m sure you’re right – and party pooper you may be! I just thought the post would resonate. Sadly so many adults don’t get their kids out to experience the ways of nature … but I can see your point of view (sadly!) …

@ LD – I agree – I don’t even know what an MP3 player is … my ignorance is bliss!!

@ Keith – I’ve no idea .. the process of taking out and adding in words … and dictionaries only get updated every so often – just these words being removed from the 7 – 11 year age group upset me!

Thanks everyone … I’m consolidating now – ie letting my hip settle … and not rush ahead – though I am ahead of what I should be able to do … Joylene – I’m not dancing yet!!

Thanks for your thoughts – cheers Hilary

janice h said...

Thank you for letting us know about this, Hilary - at the risk of sounding like a female Victor Meldrew, I can't believe they'd be so shortsighted and stupid! You just need to read that richly expressive poem to understand why we need to expand kids' vocabularies, not shrink them!
PS Your new reCaptcha doesn't like how long I take to type! ;)

beste barki said...

This post of yours expresses things very dear to my heart Hilary.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Why in the world would anyone remove acorn from a child's dictionary??

Michelle Wallace said...

Why do they need to remove words? Since dictionaries are meant to extend knowledge, can't they just leave the existing ones and add new words? It makes NO SENSE.
MP3 player as a word? Really?
So what's going to happen to abbreviations? Maybe they'll just scrap them? I wouldn't be surprised...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Janice - it seems we're all befuddled that we have to fall into the urban slot - when so many of us love our countryside and its life - but c'est la vie .... so quite agree with you.

Captcha - just doesn't work ... and I prefer using the pop up comment box.

@ Beste - looks like many of us concur with the sentiments here ..

@ Dianne - I've no idea - but I'm sure it features in the next up age group dictionary ... but ....

@ Michelle and as she says - is MP3 a word .... Bazza probably has it right (see his earlier comment) - but one does wonder re the powers that be - the editors I presume - who made these decisions ...

Thanks to you all - at least we're singing from the same page ... it's not being heard - but we agree that these natural words should remain.

Cheers Hilary

cleemckenzie said...

Now that was depressing. I guess dumbing down is everywhere these days. Personally, I'm all for stretching the limits, and if I don't about something, I really do try to find out about it.

Anyway. . .Hip, Hip, Hurray for you. No sticks and lots of stretching. You'll be doing a marathon next. I wonder if marathon is still in the dictionary?

Lynn said...

Golly - brook is such a beautiful word, too. I'll make sure I use that word more often now, rather than the more often used (in the southern US) creek.

So glad you are doing better Hilary!

Clarissa Draper said...

I'm glad your hip is improving. Also, I love the poem. I use a thick Cambridge Learners Dictionary. I love my dictionary.

Deborah Barker said...

I was not aware of any words being removed Hilary - and the reasoning does seem a little odd to say the least. I presume they will remain in the English language and be printed in the main dictionary? It sends a shiver down my spine to think of all those beautiful, familiar words disappearing. The price of progress?

Connie Arnold said...

That really doesn't seem right to remove words and for the reason. It's amazing all the new words now because of some aspect of technology that is so prevalent currently. Most interesting post, as always. So glad you are doing better!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Lee - you're right about the dumbing down and I quite agree about stretching our knowledge and like you I'm always checking up on things.

@ Lynn - exactly.. love the English word 'golly' - guess that's slang? but I use it often. I know there are lots of alternatives that can be used - good to know you'll be using brook instead of creek.

@ Clarissa - it's great to know we still use dictionaries ... and I always check things up .. I've a mini one and a larger concise Oxford one I use regularly ...

@ Debbie - yes words are removed - I guess to keep the size the same, and to keep the usage modern as such: the price of progress ... I'm not sure about that!

@ Connie - exactly removing a word because kids don't get out into the countryside to experience those things doesn't exactly seem like a good idea to delete them from the junior dictionary. Words that are prevalent today ... you're right - I wonder if MP3 will be around for over 200 years ...

HIP: thanks everyone ... coming along nicely ... cheers Hilary

Empty Nest Insider said...

I also think they should expand the dictionary instead of removing words that every child should know. This really doesn't make any sense at all. Beautiful poem, Hilary! I'm glad you're coming along well! It sounds like you've been a model patient!

Julie

Brian Miller said...

it is sad some of the words that are left out now...in our shrinking reality...no longer relevant...we can live in the moment so much we isolate ourselves...from our history and reality....

loverofwords said...

When my class of 9th graders was reading, "To Kill A Mocking Bird," they came across the word "mend" (when Boo Radley mended the boy's overalls). They had no idea what that meant. When I tried to explain what that meant I realized that no one "mends" anymore. Socks, etc. are just thrown away. Now no one has a mending basket, or an ironing basket either.

TexWisGirl said...

gosh, if we start eliminating words because they are 'quaint' or 'old-fashioned' and replace them with new-age, what will it look like in 25 years? *sigh*

Eddie Bluelights said...

O is for Outrage
I don't think words should be deleted from the Dictionary . . . but I suppose new words come in from time to time . . . :)

Karen Lange said...

I totally agree with you! I think these words should be included without a doubt. It saddens me to think about what future generations will lose in doing this.

Glad to hear you are doing well! You continue in my thoughts and prayers. :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Julie - there are other dictionaries .. but the acorn seems a must as it sprouts and grows. Logic defeats me sometimes!! Glad you enjoyed the poem - I was pleased I've put it up here.

Model patient me? no definitely not ... but I am recovering really well ... thank you.

@ Brian - with your wordsmith skills I can understand your sentiments. We are isolating our kids aren't we .. not letting ourselves wander back in time and take a look at life when we lived in the landscape.

@ Nat - yes it's interesting isn't it about not keeping and repairing things, saving bits and bobs in case they might be of some use.

A taxi driver yesterday (as I can't drive at the moment I use taxis if I need to go somewhere) mentioned each soldier is issued with a mending kit ...

I do put old things into the clothes recycling bank, I do have a mending basket: mostly used for buttons or odd things coming undone and an ironing basket ... but I try to do them so they don't hang around - comes of being single I guess: I can.

@ Theresa - yes I wonder if those words will be around in 25 years .. whereas an acorn, a brook and a conker (if our trees don't get wiped out from a virus) ... will survive for another few decades, or even centuries, I hope.

@ Eddie - O is for outrage - so true: many have been horrified by the exclusion at this dictionary level ... and yes we need new words but do these actually have value for the future of our fragile land and planet.

@ Karen - I expect the words will be in the larger dictionaries - but if we don't learn a word as a kid we perhaps don't expand our vocabulary sufficiently to really appreciate our landscape and the reason we are here.

Thanks everyone - I'm doing fine and recovering really well ... cheers Hilary

Crystal Collier said...

*sigh* It's interesting where people place priority, eh? The same dictionary penned out by 10 different people would have an emphasis it 10 different ways.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Crystal - yes it is .. and I'd like to be a fly on the wall as they make these decisions. Also there are other dictionaries where those words occur ... but I still don't think they should have been eliminated in the Junior dictionary ...

As you say - there no doubt were lots of different ideas re other words ... cheers Hilary

Susan Scheid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.