Friday, January 4, 2008
If you're looking for our 2009 writeup, go here.
Once more Lake Superior State University has released its annual list of words to be banished, and once more it is written in the same drab, condescending tone we find so common among our inferiors.
To begin with, the official title -- The 33rd Annual List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness -- is a wholly incompetent description of the list. "Queen's English," for example, refers to a method of pronunciation, but the list comprises words and (as we shall see) phrases; "banished" denotes the words' expulsion, but were that so, how on Earth could they ever appear on the list? And in the name of Strunk and White, the first "word" is "Perfect Storm!"
We could rail on about the lack of a serial comma or the ambiguity of whether "for" refers to "Words" or "English," but we feel no need to bother any more with a mere trifling of a title -- save this: Misuse, overuse, and even uselessness are all faults of the user, not of the term itself; one does not blame the scalpel for making the wrong incision.
- perfect storm
- post 9/11
- give back
- 'X' is the new 'Y'
- black Friday
- back in the day
- it is what it is
- under the bus
"webinar," is guilty of nothing more than "hurting the brain" of Carol, Lams, Michigan--given the sophistication of Ms. Carol's argument, we do not doubt the truth of her statement, but is such an act grounds for banishment? Should "wordsmith/wordsmithing," be likewise punished simply because Emily Kissane of St. Paul, Minnesota has "never read anything created by a wordsmith - or via wordsmithing - that was pleasant to read"?
Dorothy Betzweiser of Cincinnati, Ohio charges "authored" thus, "In one of former TV commentator Edwin Newman's books, he wonders if it would be correct to say that someone 'paintered' a picture?" Would it be incorrect?
Poor "Black Friday" is not even charged; and, chillingly, we banish "waterboarding" on the whim of Patrick K. Egan, Sault Ste. Marie.
As we said before, the fault lies with the user, not with the term. With that in mind, we should note that those eager to purge English of her many words are not without blame. Lynn Allen of Warren, Michigan charged "Perfect Storm" with the mongoloid statement, "Overused by the pundits on evening TV shows to mean just about any coincidence." We could easily say Ms. Allen overuses her generalities to make, oh, just about any ambiguous claim.
"Too many sweets will make you sick. [Sweet] became popular with the advent of the television show 'South Park' and by rights should have died of natural causes, but the term continues to cling to life." "With the advent of," "died of natural causes," "cling to life": One doubts the former, suspects the middle, and wishes the latter had regarding Waye Braver's sense of originality.
Words adapt, evolve, mutate, and, thankfully, they'll never stop, despite the bellyfelt oppressiveness of duck-speaking word fascists like these. You don't like how someone uses a term? Correct them, not the term.