Thursday, December 11, 2008

Linguistic Cleansing: British youth dictionary eliminates traditional words in the name of "multiculturalism"

No, this really is not a Monty Python skit.

Editors at the Oxford University Press cited "multiculturalism" as the reason for cleansing their Junior Dictionary of words having to do with religion, history, animals, and plants. Religious words taken out included 'altar', 'bishop', 'chapel', 'coronation', 'emperor', 'minister', 'monarch', 'monk', and 'nun'.

These traditional words have been replaced by words such as 'blog', 'chatroom', 'tolerant', 'EU', 'bungee jumping', 'committee', and, somewhat ironically, 'endangered'. The dictionary also removed numerous words related to nature.

According to the British Telegraph:
Lisa Saunders, a worried mother who has painstakingly compared entries from the junior dictionaries, aimed at children aged seven or over, dating from 1978, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2007, said she was "horrified" by the vast number of words that have been removed, most since 2003.

"The Christian faith still has a strong following," she said. "To eradicate so many words associated with the Christianity will have a big effect on the numerous primary schools who use it."

Ms Saunders realised words were being removed when she was helping her son with his homework and discovered that "moss" and "fern", which were in editions up until 2003, were no longer listed.

"I decide to take a closer look and compare the new version to the other editions," said the mother of four from Co Down, Northern Ireland. "I was completely horrified by the vast number of words which have been removed. We know that language moves on and we can't be fuddy-duddy about it but you don't cull hundreds of important words in order to get in a different set of ICT words."

Anthony Seldon, the master of Wellington College, a leading private school in Berkshire, said: "I am stunned that words like "saint", "buttercup", "heather" and "sycamore" have all gone and I grieve it.
In Orwell's dystopian novel 1984, the editors of the "Newspeak Dictionary" sought to reduce the incidence of Thought Crimes by eliminating the words with which they could be committed. That accounts for the elimination of religious and historical words. But what are we to make of the elimination of nature words such as 'cheetah', 'colt', 'guinae pig', and 'hamster'? Or for that matter 'acorn', 'almond', 'blackberry', 'tulip', and 'violet'?

Is there something about nature itself that is objectionable to the politically correct?

And then there is this quote by the very scary Vineeta Gupta, head of children's dictionaries at Oxford University Press:
"When you look back at older versions of dictionaries, there were lots of examples of flowers for instance. That was because many children lived in semi-rural environments and saw the seasons. Nowadays, the environment has changed. We are also much more multicultural. People don't go to Church as often as before. Our understanding of religion is within multiculturalism, which is why some words such as "Pentecost" or "Whitsun" would have been in 20 years ago but not now."
Why is it that the rhetoric of tolerance and inclusion always seems to accompany the elimination of something?


Anonymous said...

It's time to remove the Great from Britain. Cheerio.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, I guess I can no longer recite the Limerick that starts out "There once was a nun from Peru".