Wednesday, November 11, 2009

When Words Become Endangered

I hope everyone, not just environmentalists and educators, will read Anne Keisman's article in National Wildlife magazine, Oct/Nov 2009 (vol. 47 no. 6).  The article is entitled, "When Words Become Endangered".

from the article:

...the word “wren” was removed not long ago from the Oxford Junior Dictionary. In fact, the newest edition of this prominent children’s learning tool no longer defines more than 30 nature words, including “dandelion,” “otter,” “acorn” and “beaver.” In their place, a child will now find definitions for such terms as “MP3 player,” “blog” and “cut and paste.”

If words frame how we are able to think about the world, what does this tell us? How does this narrow a child's view of the world? Isn't this a value judgement? That natural world terms are less "meaningful" than digital jargon?  Will those digital terms even be in use in a few years? Will they be like "eight-track" or VHS, terms that mean nothing? What about Otter? Beaver?  Will they be meaningless or will they just be gone?

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