Oxford Junior Dictionary Drops Christian Words

The latest edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary has dropped many words associated with Christianity and British history that were found in earlier versions.

Christian-related words like "bishop," "chapel," "disciple," "minister," "sin," and "devil," have been replaced by words like "blog," "biodegradable," "MP3 player," "democratic," and "celebrity," in the 2007 edition of the popular children's dictionary in the United Kingdom.

Although the newest version of the dictionary was released last year, the removal of words went largely unnoticed until Lisa Saunders, a mother of four from Northern Ireland, pointed them out.

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She first realized the omission of words during a homework session with her son when couldn't find "moss" and "fern," which were in editions up until 2003, but were not included in the 2007 version, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The discovery prompted Saunders to compare entries from the older editions, dating from 1978, 1995, 2000, 2002, and 2003 with the latest junior dictionary.

"I was completely horrified by the vast number of words which have been removed," she told the Telegraph in London. "We know that language moves on and we can't be fuddy-duddy about it but you don't cull hundreds of important words in order to get in a different set of ICT words."

Vineeta Gupta, the head of children's dictionaries at Oxford University Press, told the Telegraph the changes were made to reflect a "multicultural" society.

"People don't go to Church as often as before. Our understanding of religion is within multiculturalism, which is why some words such as 'Pentecost' or 'Whitsun' would have been in 20 years ago but not now," he said.

"The Christian faith still has a strong following," noted Saunders, according to the Telegraph. "To eradicate so many words associated with the Christianity will have a big effect on the numerous primary schools who use it."

The decision by OUP to discontinue particular words is a form of "verbal engineering," Erin Manning recently wrote on Beliefnet's conservative Crunchy Con blog.

Manning cited Catholic moral theologian William Smith as saying, "All social engineering is preceded by verbal engineering."

"Deciding to drop a word that has already fallen out of use, become obsolete, from a dictionary is not a political act," said Manning on Monday, "but removing words still in everyday use just because you've decided they ought not be important in the vocabulary of a modern child most decidedly is."

The removal of Christianity from Europe will pose consequences for the European Union, said Manning, citing Italian philosopher Marcello Pera.

"You remove the ability to explain coherently both to your own citizens and to those outside just who you are, what you stand for, and what you believe in," commented Manning.

"Europe didn't spring into being as a post-modern secularist entity in the late twentieth century, after all; without understanding the rich and storied past, we have no context in which to place the present, or to envision a hopeful future."

The dictionary was created for children ages 7 and up and includes around 10,000 entries, words and phrases.

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