On the naughty step - conduct that deserves a ticking off

21st March 2014 at 00:00
This week: the dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is one of those classroom staples that always comes in handy when a child asks for the umpteenth time how to spell antidisestablishmentarianism.

And in an age when "you can google that" has become a default response to any query, teachers know that the alternative "look in the dictionary" is still one of the most worthwhile things they can utter. The book is easy to use, informative and (with the exception of the online edition) holds none of the diversions of the internet.

Until now. For this week the OED announced that it was updating its word list. This happens quarterly, but the March update includes a whole range of variations on the rudest word in the English language.

While the OED's website carefully skates over the inclusion of multiple forms of the C-word and highlights instead the less controversial bestie (n. a person's best friend) and beatboxer, the more vulgar additions are all there to be looked up.

Of course, attempting to catalogue all the words in the English language is an admirable ambition. But we also know what a headache this will potentially cause for teachers as children flick straight to the words they're not supposed to say. So well done OED on all your endeavours, but it's off to the naughty step with you for failing to properly consider your impact on teachers.

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