Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Wednesday, 7 July 2004

A new gay-friendly lexicon for Canada

Semantic changes can sometimes be arcane, but they are often far-reaching. A new edition of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary has just been published and one of the changes is to reflect 2003 court rulings there which allowed for same-sex marriage. The previous definition of 'marriage' has been replaced by a new definition reading "the legal or religious union of two people" and makes no mention of "a man and a woman". Katherine Barber, Editor-in-Chief of the dictionary, is quoted as saying:

"An up-to-date accurate dictionary reflects what words mean and when court rulings in 2003 allowed for same-sex marriage, the traditional sense of the word immediately changed."

Responding to criticism she said: "It is a matter of lexicographical principle. We would simply be incorrect if we continued to define marriage as being solely between a man and a woman; that is no longer the case in Canada."

There are a number of other changes to reflect the recent changes in Canadian society and its public policy. It would be good to think we in the UK may see some of these changes here, too, in the not too distant future - in practical terms as well as in our own dictionaries.

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