Reprinted from Vancouver 24 Hours

A generation may grow up thinking a ‘blackberry’ is a smart phone, not a juicy fruit, thanks to recent amendments to the Oxford Junior Dictionary.

Oxford University Press has dropped more than 90 common plant and animal names, including beaver, heron, otter and acorn to make room for words they say more reflect “modern society” such as blog, MP3 Player, voicemail and broadband.

World-famous wildlife artist Robert Bateman, for one, is horrified.

“It’s a dreadful trend, but it’s part of a much bigger picture,” said Bateman who works to connect kids with nature through his Get To Know program,

“Most kids don’t play outside anymore. Their brains have been invaded by electronics,” he said from his home on Saltspring Island.

“This departure from nature is very unhealthy not only for bodies but for minds … for spirits and souls,” added Bateman, who cites research that shows “nature deficit disorder” is responsible for a host of problems.

“If kids just play outside, climb trees, play in creeks … you have less obesity, less attention deficit disorder, less depression, less suicide, less drug and alcohol abuse, less bullying and higher marks.”

And what happens if Blackberry goes the way of Beta?

“The dictionary, the venerable Oxford dictionary, is putting in these temporary … gadgets,” said Bateman. “I have a feeling that herons and kingfishers and almonds will be around in 1,500 years but these others may not be around in 15.”