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Monday, January 10, 2011

Banished Words for 2011

Recently on Jane's Ride there was a great discussion on annoying words and phrases.  This weekend I came across this...

Each year Lake Superior State University releases a list of  banished words .  These words/phrases are to be banished from our collective vocabulary for being chronically overused and misused.  Here's the list for 2011 (with sample quotes from the LSSU web site).

viral - "...it is no longer enough to give such offerings their 15 minutes of fame, but they must be declared to 'go viral.'

epic - "Standards for using 'epic' are so low, even 'awesome' is embarrassed."

fail - "Fail is not a noun. It is not an adjective. It is a verb."  "...anything that is a mistake is a 'fail'."

wow factor - "Done-to-death phrase to point out something with a somewhat significantly appealing appearance."

a-ha moment - "...a point at which you understand something or something becomes clearer. Why can't you just say that?"

backstory - "This should be on the list of words that don't need to exist because a perfectly good word has been used for years. In this case, the word is 'history,' or, for those who must be weaned, 'story.'"

BFF - "...call each other BFF (Best Friends Forever) and it lasts about 10 minutes. Now there's BFFA (Best Friends For Awhile), which makes more sense."

man up - "A stupid phrase when directed at men. Even more stupid when directed at a woman..."

refudiate - "Adding this word to the English language simply because a part-time politician lacks a spell checker on her cell phone is an action that needs to be repudiated."

mamma grizzlies - "Unless you are referring to a scientific study of Ursus arctos horribilis , this analogy of right-wing female politicians should rest in peace."

the American people - Every political speech refers to the 'American' people as if simply saying 'Americans' (or 'people') is not enough." 

I'm just sayin' - "'A phrase used to diffuse any ill feelings caused by a preceded remark..."

Facebook/Google as verbs - "...the trend can only get worse, i.e. I'm going to Twitter a few people, then Yahoo the movie listings and maybe Amazon a book or two."

live life to the fullest - "It's an absurdity followed by a redundancy. First, things are full or they're not; there is no fullest. Second, 'live life' is redundant."


I had to cringe because I have an "A-Ha Moment" video link on my blog, but it was named by the people who made the video, not by me.  Some of these rang no bells for me.  I'm definitely guilty of using Google as a verb (aren't we all?).  And I believe "backstory" is a useful word, especially for writers.

How about you?  Any you agree with?  Disagree with?  Any you'd like to add?

I'm currently enjoying: The Fate of Katherine Carr by Thomas H. Cook

Groaner of the Day: (It's a bit long but you've got to read it.) 
The great German actress Zelda had done everything but for one thing; she'd never won an Academy Award. She was known for being terribly temperamental and choosy about her parts, but was also known to soften for the promise of the elusive award.

One day she was called by the great director, Meyer Schmidt, and asked to review a new script he had. She read the script and immediately rejected it. "Iss Nicht my type of script, Meyer, and I'll not do it."

"But Honeykins," he cried, "It's a wonderful script."

"I didn't say it vasn't vunderful or goot, but I'll not do it."

"But Sweetiekins," Meyer continued, "with my direction and your acting and name, it will make us millions."

"More geldt I don't need. Ich do nicht like the script."

"But, Darling, don't you see? With my connections, I can almost guarantee you an Academy Award with a good performance."

Zelda thought a moment then agreed, saying, "Oh, I'd luff to be an Oscar veener, Meyer!"

(I'm sorry. I can't help myself.)

22 comments:

Mason Canyon said...

Interesting list of words. I'd have to say I agree with a few of them, but I'm one of those who has and uses the a-ha moment. Love the groaner.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Linda Leszczuk said...

Mason - Oh, good. Then I won't feel bad for having that one on my blog.

(Yeah, that groaner cracked me up.)

Maria Zannini said...

There are lots of words and phrases that annoy me, but it's part of our culture. Certain words are synonymous with certain eras and certain kinds of thinking.

Not to get off topic, but that's why it bothers me they want to edit Mark Twain. Must we always erase what offends us? How else do we learn from the past?

Dru said...

LOL at the groaner.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Maria - I think these lists are more about irritation with words/phrases that are just being overused or misused. Changing even one word (I don't care what word) of a book that is not only an American classic but an important piece of our history is sacrilege.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Dru - Me, too. Glad you liked it.

Karin said...

Still laughing at the groaner!!

Language and phrases do change over time. Some last and some die out. I do hope some of the words on your list go the way of the dinosaur. "I'm just saying"for one. To me, "viral" is a type of infection that will not respond to antibiotics. I do like "A-Ha Moment" It is so descriptive.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I dislike the tech term “viral” as it makes me feel I need a hazardous material suit. I also don’t consider BFF a word. I would agree to banish these and the other words on the list.

And, thanks for the mention and the funny groaner.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Karin - Always great to find a comment from you. And that's two votes for not banishing A-ha moment. :-)

Linda Leszczuk said...

Jane - I think the only ones I'd keep are backstory and a-ha moment but I think using Google as a verb is here to stay.

Jemi Fraser said...

Total groaner - love it :)

Love the LSSU list - always makes me smile!

Linda Leszczuk said...

Jemi - Glad you liked it. I think today's groaner got a thumbs up all the way around.

Sondrae Bennett said...

I laughed at the "refudiate". Although I admit....I do tell my workout buddies to man up, even though we're all women. And I like the a-ha moment! But most of them I agree with.

Liz Fichera said...

BFFA? I must remember that one!

Another one I hear the kids use is "wicked." Wicked is good. Who knew?

Linda Leszczuk said...

Sondrae - Thanks for coming by. Alway enjoy seeing new faces on my blog.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Liz - in parts of New England, "wicked" is a common adjective meaning "extremely". A friend of mine recently posted a picture on Facebook of an electric road sign with the warning: The Roads are Wicked Slippery. I love it.

TC said...

Didn't the main character in 1984 work in a job where his role was to rewrite books to stay in line with current political philosophy? Extending that thought ... did not that same book offer a dire warning about the future as seen by Orwell? Does that not make it even more of an imperative to study the past so as to not literally be condemned to repeating our mistakes???
Banish the banishers, say I, and let us live with our mistakes, enjoy the good, bad and (often) ugly of our past, and speak freely on any topic at any time with our words of choice!

TC said...

My attempts at creating a profile on Google that is reasonably anonymous have left me with TC for now.
You know TC as Todd Collins.
I will work on that profile nonsense or post via another means so people here know who is speaking!

Todd

Linda Leszczuk said...

TC - These various lists don't bother me much. They're mostly just someone's attempt to get us to stop overusing or misusing certain words and phrases. But the recent release of a new "edited" version of Mark Twain's Huck Finn, with the offensive N-word (and others) removed is terrifying. When we start rewriting literature we're editing history.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Silly Todd...I knew who TC was without the second comment.

Arlee Bird said...

Jumped over here from Jane's Ride and like what I see.

I'll just pretend that groaner never happened--okay, I did laugh, I'll admit it.

Most of those words and phrases are fine with me and I use many of them myself. I am somewhat annoyed by the Twitter/texting lingo like BFF. Those aren't words, but a faddish corruption of communication. I'd hate to see the day come when we all communicate with letters, numbers, and symbols and that day is here for many people. It's just plain annoying to me.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Linda Leszczuk said...

Arlee, thanks for coming by. I should have added a disclaimer to this post that I don't agree with all these (although some I do), but I find it interesting to follow these lists and see what words are included and why.

The sign of a good groaner - you laugh in spite of yourself.