Best and worst of words, 2008 edition

by DaniGirl on January 2, 2008 · 9 comments

in Life, the Universe and Everything

The most annoying thing about this time of year is the endless recaps, reviews and predictions for the new year. Yawn.

The best thing about this time of year is the linguistic analyses of word trends in the past year. I am such a word geek!

For instance, we have from the New York Times, this capricious and completely subjective list of some of the best slang of 2007. From LOLCATS to astronaut diapers, I’m feeling mighty hip to have at least a passing familiarity with these and about half a dozen other terms on the list. There’s plenty here for us online obsessives, quelle surprise. I liked these ones:

Life-streaming: “to make a thorough, continuous digital record of your life in video, sound, pictures and print.” (But, erm, isn’t this already called “blogging”?)

E-mail bankruptcy: “what you’re declaring when you choose to delete or ignore a very large number of e-mail messages after falling behind in reading and responding to them.” (Ha! I’d been doing this, rather surreptitiously and with great guilt. Somehow I feel more justified in doing it knowing it’s enough of an epidemic to have an official term for it!)

Bacn: “impersonal e-mail messages that are nearly as annoying as spam but that you have chosen to receive: alerts, newsletters, automated reminders and the like.”

Kinnear: “to take a candid photograph surreptitiously, especially by holding the camera low and out of the line of sight. Coined in August by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee of the Yarn Harlot blog when she attempted to take a photograph during an encounter with the actor Greg Kinnear at an airport.” (I favour this one because I love the idea of a blogger coining a word that makes an NYT year-end list, especially one as clever and likeable – and Canadian! – as the Yarn Harlot!)

So now that you can talk the hip talk of 2008, make sure you don’t make the faux pas of using one of the Banished Words of 2008, as compiled annually by Lake Superior State University (I love this list and blogged about it in 2007 and 2006 too!)

This one pains me, because my speech is peppered with some of these terms. Heck, “back in the day” is the title of my archives; I’ve been known to utter an appreciative “Sweeeeet!” or two; and, “Webinar” is a huge part of what I’m doing at work right now. But I’m happy to bid a permanent adieu to “emotional”, “under the bus” and especially “random” – that last one has always grated on my nerves.

The comments have always been fun on this post. What words or phrases would YOU banish this year?

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 revdrmom January 2, 2008 at 9:19 am

My vote to ban: the use of “gift” as a verb, as in “I gifted him with a lovely scarf”. Gah. What is wrong with the verb “to give”, past tense “I gave.”

I am afraid I use a few of the banned phrases though, especially “back in the day” and “sweet”. Oh well.

2 cinnamon gurl January 2, 2008 at 10:41 am

I have never heard “under the bus” before… I’m so out of touch that things are going out before I knew they’d even come in.

I have to say, I mostly disagree with the banned words and phrases… except emotional. I think they made a great point about emotional.

But just because a term is misused doesn’t mean it should be banned. And besides, today’s misuse is tomorrow’s acceptable use.

OMG – did I just become shed my prescriptivist leanings?

3 daysgoby January 2, 2008 at 11:37 am

Terror, as in ‘the war against terror’.

Terror is an emotional state and is not able to be vanquished with bombs and guns and trillions upon trillions of dollars. The word they’re looking for is terrorISM.

This has been known to make me switch off the news and pant and blow for awhile.

4 Andrea January 2, 2008 at 12:39 pm

Yeah, I’m not so fond of the “out” list either. Sounds like it was submitted by a lot of cranky people who don’t know that languages change. If they don’t like “random” and “sweet” because they are not being used in the technically correct sense, then that also gets rid of wonderful, fabulous, fantastic, awesome, great, brilliant, amazing, cool, hot, and most of the other words we use to designate the things we really like.

They’re basically metaphors. Metaphors aren’t bad.

The “in” list was great, though.

5 Mom On The Run January 2, 2008 at 8:59 pm

I definitely agree that organic is overused. Thanks for sharing these lists – Happy New Year!

6 Mad Hatter January 2, 2008 at 11:18 pm

“Dude”. I have heard it too, too much. (I used it on my blog just yesterday so it’s like so totally yesterday to me.)

“on the overnight” Why can’t meteologists simply say “overnight” anymore. Nope, it’s not “we’ll get some snow overnight”; it’s “there will be snow on the overnight.” WTF!

7 nomotherearth January 3, 2008 at 6:37 am

I hate “It helped to grow my business”. It should be “It helped to make my business grow.”

8 Barbara January 3, 2008 at 9:21 am

I think people use “panic” far too often. When I think of a city in panic, I imagine people running down the streets screaming uncontrollably. When I think of an individually panicking, I think of illogical actions, shortness of breath, etc. In neither case is it sustainable nor usually what is actually happening. But that is a long term beef.

9 Chantal January 6, 2008 at 7:23 pm

I don’t understand the point of “random”. I’ve heard “It was so random” or “He’s so random” so many times. What the heck does it mean?

That said, my Mom hated “Radical” and “Awesome” and I thought she was just being an old crankpot!

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