I don’t know how it escaped my attention for the past 30 years but every year since new year’s day in 1976, Lake Superior State University, Michigan’s smallest public university, has published a list of banished words — words that have been deemed misused, over-used or just plain useless.
Without further ado, here is the list of 16 words (and phrases, accompanied by my comments) that LSSU has proposed be banished in the year 2007:
- GITMO: The Guantanamo Bay Naval Base has been refered to as ‘Gitmo,’ since I was in the Navy oh so many years ago and long before that. I had no idea it bothered anyone.
- COMBINED CELEBRITY NAMES: Yes! I wholeheartedly agree with that one — “Bennefer,” “Tomkat” and all those like it are far too tacky to live on.
- AWESOME: Hmmm! I thought Awesome was a pretty cool (or is that “kewl”) word with a lot of meaning. LSSU insists that the dictionary definition (“inspiring awe or admiration or wonder”) is being taken far too lightly when things like “tennis shoes” are described as awesome. Perhaps they have a point!
- GONE/WENT MISSING: No argument from me, it sounds terrible! Besides, if someone is ‘missing’ they didn’t necessarily ‘go’ there, they might have been taken and might not even know where ‘there’ is. Here, by the way, is a headline from an article on FoxNews.com today (January 2nd): “3 Maryland Kids Who Went Missing After Mom’s Murder Found, Dad Arrested” — Fox News is apparently not paying attention to the Banished Word List.
- PWN or PWNED: No comment on that, I’ve never even heard of it! “Pwn” is supposed to be a typo for the word “own” that has creeped into everyday Internet usage. Guess I just don’t visit the right (or wrong) websites.
- NOW PLAYING IN THEATERS: The complaint is that the movie being referred to by that phrase is “obviously” playing in a theatre but they are quite wrong. Many new movies are made specifically for television or are released straight to DVD. I always assumed that they had televisions and DVD players in the wilds of Michigan but maybe I’m wrong again.
- WE’RE PREGNANT: Well, until women start producing ‘self-fertilized’ eggs, WE ARE pregnant dearie! There are apparently some feminists in Michigan who want to disinfranchise the seed bearers in the conception game.
- UNDOCUMENTED ALIEN: This is an excellent choice for banishment! As John Varga from Westfield, New Jersey said when he nominated this phrase for banisment: “It’s like saying a drug dealer is an ‘undocumented pharmacist;” what a perfect analogy!
- ARMED ROBBERY/DRUG DEAL GONE BAD: Nothing wrong with these phrases; “unarmed” robberies happen every day, they are called “muggings” and, likewise, drug deals are successfully transacted on a daily basis — you just never read about them in the headlines.
- TRUTHINESS: Stupid word, good banishment!
- ASK YOUR DOCTOR: It looks like LSSU was starting to run out of phrases to banish; just because we’re tired of hearing it on the thousands of drug commercials doesn’t make it a bad phrase ( or a bad idea).
- CHIPOTLE: I’m glad they clarified what this one meant before banishing it — I always wondered!
- i-ANYTHING: Can’t agree on banishment here! LSSU, like the government, needs to keep their “hands” off the Internet.
- SEARCH: No! The word that should be banished is “Google” when used as a verb.
- HEALTHY FOOD: No again! “Healthy food” is a phrase that has lots of meaning and is well defined. Yes, “healthful” would be a more appropriate adjective but that word always seems so pompous!
- BOASTS: Yes, I can see their point; “boasts” is constantly misused to give a sense of humanity to inanimate objects. Not, you understand, that I have anything against inanimate objects . . .
Those then are the sixteen words chosen by LSSU to be banished this year — thanks to LSSU for an awesome list!!
LSSU, according to their ‘i-presence,’ “accepts nominations for the banished-words list throughout the year. To submit your nomination for the 2008 list, go to: http://www.lssu.edu/banished/submit_word.php
Milwaukee Journal Sentinal: 16 words deemed unspeakable
Lake Superior State University: LSSU’s Banished Words List
From the blogosphere:
Postcards From the Mothership: Banished words 2007
KnowHR Blog: LSSU’s List of Banished Words Is . . . Awesome
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