Attachment for acorn. Broadband for bluebell. Bullet-point, celebrity, and chatroom for catkin, dandelion, and pasture.
These were some of the changes included in the most recent edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary, a 10,000 word reference manual meant as “an introduction to language” for young children. From ash to willow, the Oxford Press editorial staff replaced around 50 entries pertaining to the natural world with “updated” words, “designed to reflect language as it is used.”
And who could blame them? Environmentalists are, but the anger is misplaced—as a practical matter, most children encounter blog before cygnet (or even fern). Our lives and lexicons are changing.
But what does it say about the future of conservation that committee and cut-and-paste may be taught and understood before nectar or newt? How do we develop the next generation of custodians when their earliest childhood memories take place in de-natured places?