Annual list of 'banned' words chosen by university
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
DETROIT -- A movie about a "maverick," his journey "from Wall Street to Main Street," his "desperate search" for a "game-changing" revelation about his "carbon footprint" probably would make the nation's word-watchers physically ill.
Especially if it were the "winner of five nominations."
All those words and phrases are on Lake Superior State University's annual List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness. The 34th version of the list was released Tuesday. The school in Michigan's Upper Peninsula selected 15 entries from about 5,000 nominations.
Despite the year's economic meltdown -- which itself wasn't banished -- the most entries came from the environmental category for "green" or "going green."
"If I see one more corporation declare itself 'green,' I'm going to start burning tires in my backyard," wrote Ed Hardiman of Bristow, Va., in his submission. Nominators also had their fill of "carbon footprint," the amount of greenhouse gases an individual's lifestyle produces.
The list wasn't overrun with politics despite the national election -- no "change," for instance -- but one simply couldn't escape the critics' wrath.
"I'm a maverick, he's a maverick, wouldn't you like to be a maverick, too?" offered Michael Burke of Silver Spring, Md., in his entry for the label embraced by Republican presidential candidate John McCain.
Words related to the economy led to a few meltdowns.
"I am so tired of hearing about everything affecting 'Main Street.' I know that with the 'Wall Street' collapse, the comparison is convenient, but really, let's find another way to talk about everyman or the middle class, or even, heaven forbid, 'Joe the Plumber."' wrote Stacey from Knoxville, Tenn.
She provided only a first name in her bid to eradicate -- or at least separate -- Wall Street" and "Main Street."
Although this year's sluggish economy and record rise in gas prices may have kept people closer to home, the word coined for it, "staycation," is "idiotic and rootless," says Michele Mooney of Los Angeles.
An emoticon made the list for the first time. The strings of characters used in e-mails and text-messaging commonly represent a face -- like ;-) or :-0 -- but the school singled out an emoticon heart, formed with a "less than" symbol and the number 3.
"Monkey" was on the list because of what some see as its rampant use as a suffix. "Especially on the Internet, many people seem to think they can make any boring name sound more attractive just by adding the word 'monkey' to it," wrote Rogier Landman of Sommerville, Mass.
The school's annual quest to throw lexicon logs on the fire always gets some end-of-the-year attention for the school in Sault Ste. Marie, the last stop before Michigan's northern border crossing with Canada. But the list is more about letting off steam and offering laughs than performing any verbal vanishing act.
"We get several nominations for the same word or phrase, and we still get nominations for words and phrases that have been on previous years' lists," said university spokesman Tom Pink.
"'At this point in time' was on the first list in 1976 and it continues to be nominated every year. People still hate it."
Think these gendarmes of jargon should "get a life"? Watch it, kiddo. That phrase was banished in 1997.
On the Net:
Lake Superior State University's banished words: http://www.lssu.edu/banished