The average 6-year-old will have acquired a vocabulary of 5,000 to 20,000 words. But if he picks up his vocabulary from the Oxford Junior Dictionary, acorn, hamster, otter and buttercup won’t be among them.
The latest edition of that dictionary has replaced 50 words associated with nature from the 10,000-entry dictionary. In their place? Words like broadband and analogue.
The response has been even more heated than changes made in 2007 when Oxford eliminated words connected to religion like bishop, saint and sin.
This time, 28 people, including authors and scholars, have protested the changes because they focus on words related to solitary childhoods at the expense of natural play, which the critics say is healthier.
An Oxford University Press spokesman said its dictionaries “reflect language as it is used, rather than seeking to prescribe certain words or word usages.”
“It includes around 400 words related to nature including badger, bird, caterpillar, daffodil,” he added.
Further, when a child graduates from the Junior Dictionary to the Primary Dictionary, he will find even more nature words: mistletoe, gerbil, sycamore and starling.
For now, a 7-year-old can go to Oxford Junior Dictionary to understand “cut and paste” and chatroom. But for conker, oyster and leopard, he’ll have to get a little older.