Where Do All the Lost Words Go?
Jan 08, 2020
Linguists tell us that language comes from the words people actually use. And while my Southern English teachers scolded us for any sentences that included ‘ain’t’—they seemed to ignore the reality that the word itself could be found in Webster’s. But as new words enter the language and with only so much space in a dictionary, what happens to the words we use less?
In Brain Pickings article “The Lost Words,” we learn the disheartening news that recent additions to the English language, including modern terms like broadband and cut n paste, have contributed to the loss of a multitude of words that describe nature. Lovely words like fern and starling no longer appear in the pages of the Oxford Children’s Dictionary, and despite complaints from writers and parents, no changes have been accepted.
If we’ve learned something from our shared history of the world, it’s that there’s more than one way to resist a rewrite. In this case, nature writer Robert MacFarlane and children’s illustrator Jackie Morris teamed up to create a beautiful book for children of all ages. The book’s intent is to reclaim these lost words through image and poetry and remind us of the magic inside of a spoken word.
In my own act of resistance, I’ve just ordered my copy today of The Lost Words: An Illustrated Dictionary of Poetic Spells Reclaiming the Words of Nature
and plan to keep it nearby in my office for times of inspiration. I'm also planning to say the words as often as I can, but if you want to go one step further the writers of the book have even created songs for children with music and lyrics
should you want to sing.
You can read the original article on Lost Words here