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Every abridged dictionary makes choices about what to include or exclude. Andrew Brown, in an op-ed column over at the Guardian online, questions the selections made for the latest edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary:

Imagine a childhood without gerbils, goldfish, guinea pigs, hamsters, herons, larks, or leopards; where even the idea of these things had been replaced by practical modern concepts like celebrity, vandalism, negotiate, interdependent, and creep. This is the world of the Oxford Junior Dictionary.

. . .

Dictionaries should be many things, but even the smallest should be a gateway into wonder. The child who doesn’t even know of the possibility of larks and leopards has been robbed. To offer them instead the grey bureaucratic porridge of the new words is a crime against their humanity.

I’m not sure that I share Brown’s level of disquiet over these particular words, but I do like the idea that to rob children of language to speak about nature is a “crime against their humanity.”

Thanks to Hanna, my source for all UK-related news :).

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