acorn, adder, bluebell, bramble, fern, heather, kingfisher, otter, raven, willow, wren

I’ve been listening to Lost Words Blessing every morning for months now, but until today I didn’t know the genesis of the project that begat the song:

Why were these words taken out of the Oxford Junior Dictionary?

They were taken out because they were not being used enough. That’s the simple answer. It’s not the dictionary’s fault. This is a dictionary for children aged roughly six to eight. It doesn’t have many words in it. So they have to take hard choices about what language is relevant to that age group.

But the words that went in were very telling: in went broadband, attachment, voicemail, you get the picture. This was a moment in lexicographic analysis which spoke of a much bigger moment in culture, where childhood is becoming virtualized, interiorized — and nature is slipping from childhood, as it is slipping from all our lives.

So the book was kind of a protest not against the dictionary, but against the loss.


Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on September 24, 2020 - 18:39 Permalink

Just this very moment, Oliver and I returned from The Bookmark, where we went specifically to look at that book!

vbj's picture
vbj on September 24, 2020 - 19:35 Permalink

And I (we?) have to thank Nell for the initial introduction. She had heard the title song and an interview on On Being with Krista Tippett. She knew instantly that a word maven would love the whole thing.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on September 24, 2020 - 23:17 Permalink

I came in through the Karine Polwart side door. Glad that we both found our way.