Monday, January 01, 2007

2007 Banished Words

Lake Superior State University, Michigan's smallest public university with an enrollment of 3,000 students, publishes yearly a tongue-in-cheek list of banished words. These are words that have been overused or misused to the point that they are deemed to have lost meaning. The 2007 list can be found here. If you have words you would like to submit for 2008 banishment, LSSU accepts nominations throughout the year at this website.

As a word-nerd, I always find it interesting to contemplate these newly banished words and always find a few that make me say, "It's about time!" A few of the words that made this year's list (along with some comments) follow this introductory paragraph.

ARMED ROBBERY/DRUG DEAL GONE BAD -- From the news reports. My husband and I laugh aloud everytime we hear this on a news report (at least once a week it seems.) Was the drug deal or the armed robbery going really well up until this point? It is such a shame when a good thing is spoiled, don't you think?

HEALTHY FOOD -- This misuse reminds me of the common confusion between nauseous and nauseated. I read or hear this one a couple of times a month at least -- usually by someone who should know better! I like the example given in the original 2007 Banished Words List: Someone told Joy Wiltzius of Fort Collins, Colorado, that the tuna steak she had for lunch "sounded healthy." Her reply: "If my lunch were healthy, it would still be swimming somewhere. Grilled and nestled in salad greens, it's 'healthful.'"

AWESOME -- This one was given a one-year moratorium in 1984. It was supposed to use the time off to regain its original meaning of 'fear mingled with admiration or reverence; a feeling produced by something majestic." The time has come to just BANISH this word outright. Can tennis shoes, warmups, deodorant or a hairstyle actually inspire 'fear mingled with admiration or reverence'? Are our nation's writers' vocabularies so limited that they can't think of a better adjective to describe a basketball player or a mall. Surely they don't actually believe that these are 'majestic.' Do you really find it awesome (fear mingled with admiration or reverence, remember?) that Suzy just got a new haircut?

WENT MISSING -- This expression never made any sense; it should have been banished before it was ever used. Instead of "going shopping", Suzy "went missing". It sounds as if she chose an activity and "went skiing" or "went jogging." The meaning would be much clearer with the use of "is missing" or "was missing."

COMBINED CELEBRITY NAMES -- M. Foster, Port Huron, Michigan, was one person who made this nomination. "It's bad enough that celebrities have to be the top news stories. Now we've given them obnoxious names such as 'Brangelina,' 'TomKat' and 'Bennifer.'" Think about what some of the celebrity duos of yore would have been called if this annoying and superficial media practice had existed in their days: BogCall (Bogart and Bacall), Lardy (Laurel and Hardy), and CheeChong (Cheech and Chong) I won't add a comment to this because I don't generally read or listen to drivel about celebrities, although I WAS aware of these obnoxious combinations of names.

NOW PLAYING IN THEATERS -- Heard in movie advertisements. Where can we see that, again? Are they afraid we will expect to see this new movie in the local school? Maybe the movie makers think we will hurry to the fast food restaurant down the street to see their movie? Thanks a lot, guys, but I believe that I know where to go if I want to see a movie.

WE'RE PREGNANT -- I was happy to read of the banishment of this sentence. I'm glad to know that others find it ludicrous to hear a man make this startling statement. Sharla Hulsey, of Sac City, Iowa, commented, "Were men feeling left out of the whole morning sickness/huge belly/labor experience? You may both be expecting, but only one of you is pregnant." Marlena linne, of Greenfield, Indiana, said,
"I'm sure any woman who has given birth will tell you that 'WE' did not deliver the baby." Well, DUH, as the kiddies say. Good and valid points, indeed.

UNDOCUMENTED ALIEN -- John Varga of Westfield, New Jersey, said it all: "If they haven't followed the law to get here, they are by definition 'illegal.' It's like saying a drug dealer is an 'undocumented pharmacist.'"

BOASTS -- See classified advertisements for houses, as in "master bedroom boasts his-and-her fireplaces -- never 'bathroom apologizes for cracked linoleum,' or 'kitchen laments pathetic placement of electrical outlets.'" I had actually never thought a lot about this one; but I laughed at the commentary provided with the announcement of the word's banishment and felt compelled to include it.

Maybe there are words you'd like to nominate for banishment in 2008.

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