The Suitcase Lady


January 30, 2018, 8:50 pm

Please bear with me here. I believe the following list of words is extremely important.

acorn, adder, almond, ash, ass, bacon, beaver, beetroot, blackberry, bloom, bluebell, boar, bramble, bran, brook, bullock, buttercup, canary, canter, carnation, catkin, cauliflower, chestnut, clover, county, cowslip, crocus, cheetah, colt, corgi, cygnet, dandelion, diesel, doe, drake, fern, ferret, fungus, gerbil, goldfish, gooseberry, guinea pig, hamster, hazel, hazelnut, heather, heron, herring, holly, horse chestnut, ivy, kingfisher, lark, lavender, leek, leopard, licorice, lobster, magpie, manger, marzipan, melon, minnow, mint, mistletoe, monarch, mussel, nectar, nectarine, newt, oats, otter, ox, oyster, pansy, panther, parsnip, pasture, pelican, piglet, poodle, poppy, porcupine, porpoise, porridge, poultry, primrose, prune, radish, raven, rhubarb, sheaf, spaniel, spinach, starling, stork, sycamore, terrapin, thrush, tulip, turnip, vine, violet, walnut, weasel, willow, wren

I found this listing in Terry Tempest Williams’ new book, The Hour of Land- A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks. Ms. Williams is an internationally award winning American author, conservationist and activist. I have been inspired by her books for decades.

She sadly notes that the words above were all removed from The Oxford Junior Dictionary. When questioned about the removal, the editor stated, “These words aren’t relevant to our children.”

Among the words that replaced the banished words are broadband, bullet point, bungee jumping, committee, conflict, cut and paste, database, MP3 player, vandalism and voicemail.

Terry Tempest Williams says, “If we can remove words from a dictionary that are so alive with meaning, and withhold them from our children, removing what is alive in the world becomes easy. The wild is no longer part of our vocabulary…Nature becomes a ‘forgotten language’ “.

I believe children should learn the words of the computer age. But it’s lunacy to remove the vocabulary of the natural world of which we are all a part.

I have witnessed a shocking decline in children’s vocabularies in my fifty years of teaching. Our children are losing their words. Yet, I have also learned that young people absorb new words like language sponges. They are totally capable of learning the words of the web of life as well as of the World Wide Web.

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