Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 15°C

min temp: 14°C

Search

Was it right to axe ‘nature words’ like chestnut and clover from Oxford Junior Dictionary?

PUBLISHED: 15:45 02 April 2017

Low winter sunshine at Snape Maltings - the kind of sight that would make Chrissie Gittins's heart leap

Low winter sunshine at Snape Maltings - the kind of sight that would make Chrissie Gittins's heart leap

Chrissie Gittins was outraged when a children’s dictionary ditched words such as catkin and cauliflower for cut-and-paste and broadband. Has the battle has been lost or is there still hope?

Chrissie Gittins's latest bookChrissie Gittins's latest book

She was born in Lancashire, lives in south London and has had working residencies in Belmarsh Prison and on Shetland, but Suffolk remains a magnet for poet Chrissie Gittins.

She came first when she moved to the capital more than 30 years ago. “I needed an escape route and I would drive to Aldeburgh on my Honda 90 and stay in a flat on the seafront. It was a basement and you had to stand on a window seat to see the sea.

“I’d seen a dramatic black and white photograph of Benjamin Britten against the reeds at Snape Maltings. I’d never seen saltmarsh and mudflats before and was intrigued.” Nowadays she comes, for a proper stay in the county, at least twice a year. “I top that up with day trips when I’m missing the skies and horizons.”

She was in Stoke-by-Nayland recently. “I enjoyed seeing the catkins in the hedgerows, the aconites in the churchyard at St Mary’s, Great Henny, and drifts of snowdrops in the woods behind St Andrew’s Church at Wormingford.”

Chrissie Gittins - lover of SuffolkChrissie Gittins - lover of Suffolk

Which brings us to the anger of two years ago, after the Oxford Junior Dictionary axed more words connected with nature. Out: words such as chestnut and clover. In: analogue, and similar.

Authors including Margaret Atwood and Andrew Motion were alarmed by the culling of vocabulary relating to the natural world – in favour of words “associated with the increasingly interior, solitary childhoods of today”.

Chrissie agreed. “I was alarmed and shocked when I heard that, by 2007, 110 words which name certain animals, birds, pets, fish, fruits, plants, trees and vegetables had been deleted from the Oxford Junior Dictionary.

“If the word ‘catkin’ (now deleted) is in the dictionary, it gives it weight and bearing; it says this word is important enough...”

Chrissie – who has appeared at Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and written plays for BBC Radio 4 – aims to offer some of these “discards” a life-raft in her most recent poetry book for children.

Adder, Bluebell, Lobster features – as titles – 40 of the dumped words.

“Knowledge of these (deleted) words can enhance children’s connection with nature,” argues Chrissie. “There is now a proven link between the decline in children’s play in natural areas and the decline in children’s wellbeing. If we are to value nature, we need to value the words which name the objects of our delight and nurture them.

“I’m hoping a subsequent edition may reinstate these words, or that perhaps a change of editor might result in a different approach.”

* Adder, Bluebell, Lobster is published by Otter-Barry Books at £6.99

One of the nation’s greatest dance companies is coming to Ipswich to unveil a triple bill of new work. Arts editor Andrew Clarke takes a look at what is in store when the National Dance Company Wales takes to the stage

Touring company Eastern Angles are letting their audiences do the talking with a new play, Everything Must Go, which has been devised from interviews with residents of Ipswich care homes. Arts editor Andrew Clarke finds out about the value of shopping

Strictly Come Dancing star Danny Mac is coming to Ipswich.

Frederick Knott’s classic play Wait Until Dark, being performed at Cambridge Arts Theatre until September 23, is theatre at its best, writes JAMES MARSTON.

The number of students taking arts-based or creative subjects is falling. Arts editor Andrew Clarke says we ignore these subjects at our peril because our economic future is tied up in the talent of tomorrow

The musical that takes all the “poodle rock” songs from the 1980s and packages them up in one fun-filled evening of big hair and tight jeans.

Graham Seed talks about his role in the stage version of Ealing Studios classic The Ladykillers, currently on at Ipswich’s New Wolsey Theatre, and being dropped (literally) from The Archers. Spoilers ahead.

First things first, let it be known that the film that this theatrical event is based on is one of my top 25, desert island movies. It has, therefore, a lot to live up to. Transferring any classic film from the big screen to the stage is a perilous job because it comes with a massive amount of baggage and expectation.

The New Wolsey Theatre is teaming up with Ipswich Town Football Club and its fans to stage a celebratory musical marking the 40th anniversary of the club’s FA Cup win. Arts editor Andrew Clarke spoke to writer-director Peter Rowe about the ambitious project.

Most read

Eating Out in the Broads

cover

Click here to view
the Eating Out
supplement

View

Visit the Broads

cover

Click here to view
the Visit the Broads
supplement

View

Show Job Lists

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter
MyDate24 MyPhotos24