It’s Better Than Funetik Spelling, At Least
December 8, 2008
One paper on Athenian beggars and Aristophanes left to do, and then I can go relax for a few weeks and get back to consuming food groups that provide what a doctor might term “proper nutrition.” But back in the real world of blogging, it seems that the end of the election has allowed Roger Kimball to shift his focus from paranoid complaints and observations about Barack Obama (my ability to read these went right up there with Andrew’s craziest Trig-blogging) to what he does best — observations about the impending doom of Western Civilization. After a bit of playing something resembling Chicken Little, he lights on the unfortunate decline of Oxford Univerity’s children’s dictionary:
“Words taken out:
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
Words put in:
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”
Really, now? “Cut-and-paste” is not self-explanatory enough — and we have to cut “decade” (or some such other word) for it?
One thing possibly worth noting: “words taken out” seems to be greater than “words put in” (though I didn’t actually count). At which point, one wonders why Oxford University feels that children need to have access to fewer words, as well as — shall we say — a less thoughtful compendium of them. In fact, it’s that which seems most bothersome: are the cuts for the sake of a budget? That, while sad, would at least seem vaguely reasonable (at least from their point of view). As for the alternative…