I was taking a group of 10-year-olds through a literal comprehension question that asked them to list the four shops you would find in a high street that sell bread, shampoo, magazines, and fruit and vegetables. The answers I got were: Tesco, Budgens, Martins, Boots and various other brand name stores. They are right of course, and two of them are grocers and would sell all of the above (not that they knew what a grocer was), but obviously that wasn’t what the question meant!
So, the ensuing conversation went something like this:
Me: “So, at what type of shop, other than Tesco or any other supermarket, can you buy bread, cakes, and sandwiches from?”
Me: “Yes, but what kind of shop is Dorringtons?”
Child: “A shop that sells bread, cakes and sandwiches” (Said with rolled eyes!)
Me: “It’s called a bakers.”
Child: “Really? Are you sure? I’ve never heard it called that before.”
I decided to try a change in tack …
Me: “What do you think you might buy in a chemists?”
Blank look from child.
Me: “It’s somewhere you can buy shampoo, makeup, creams …”
Child: “Oh, you mean Boots.”
Me: "What about a newsagent?”
Child: “What is a newsagent? Never heard of one of those.”
Me: “Somewhere you can buy newspapers, magazines, sweets …”
Child: “Oh, you mean Martins.”
Me: “Ok, how about a greengrocer?”
Child: “A WHAT?!”
I suppose it is inevitable with today’s convenience shopping. I wonder how much longer these words will exist in our language?