June 4, 2012

No need to be lachrymose about children’s literacy


If some commentators are to be believed, we’ll soon be barking nothing but txtspk at one another, such is the degeneration of the English language in the hands of yoofs. The OUP‘s Children’s Dictionary and Language team, though, has some pretty compelling findings to the contrary. They’ve been analysing the short stories entered in the BBC‘s 500 Words 2012 competition, open to children aged up to thirteen. There were 74,075 short stories entered, and the analysis has taught the team the following:

Doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the excellent spelling on the unusual words is probably thanks to dictionaries. Over at the OED blog, there’s a post about the great use these young wordsmiths put their dictionaries to: stories featured words including caliginous, vulpine, apotropaic, cerulean, crocodilian, lachrymose, and selenologist.

You can read the winning entries here.


Ellie Robins is an editor at Melville House. Previously, she was managing editor of Hesperus Press.