Worthy words and banished words

by DaniGirl on March 17, 2009 · 8 comments

in My inner geek, Rants and rambles, Wordplay

Okay, so retro is cool, right? And retro is basically recycling old stuff and making it new again, often by those who missed it the first time around, right? Grand, so I’m totally retro in finally remembering on St Patty’s Day that I forgot to put up my annual posts in January about the word of the year and the banished word of the year. I’m so kewl it hurts.

Right then. Word of the year for 2008 from our friends at the American Dialect Society is “bailout”. Excellent choice, IMHO.

In its 19th annual words of the year vote, the American Dialect Society voted “bailout” as the word of the year. In the specific sense used most frequently in 2008, bailout refers to the rescue by the government of companies on the brink of failure, including large players in the banking industry.

The winner was selected by popular vote, following nominations from the public. Subcategories include Most Useful (Barack Obama)(!), Most Unnecessary (moofing), Most Euphemistic (scooping technician), Most and Least Likely to Succeed (shovel-ready and PUMA, respectively), and Most Creative:

WINNER: recombobulation area: An area at Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee in which passengers that have just passed through security screening can get their clothes and belongings back in order.

long photo: A video of 90 seconds or less. Used by the photo-sharing web site Flickr.

skadoosh: A nonsense interjection popularized by Jack Black in the movie Kung Fu Panda.

rofflenui: A blended New Zealand English-Maori word that means “rolling on the floor laughing a lot.”

Ironically — or perhaps not so much — “bailout” was also on the list of words nominated for banishment by Lake Superior State University’s “34th annual List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.”

Bailout was defeated, however, and the banishment crown went to “the ubiquitous ‘Green’ and all of its variables, such as ‘going green,’ ‘building green,’ ‘greening,’ ‘green technology,’ ‘green solutions’ and more.”

Not a bad choice, even if I do support the movement in principle. What should really be banished is the use of “green” as a marketing term. THAT would make me happy!

If I were to banish any one word from the English language, it would be “utilize.” I can’t tell you how much it makes me cringe to see this word “utilized” when good old “used” would do just fine. Maybe that’s because it’s usually “utilized” by officious users who never pass over a five dollar word when a nickel word would do, and by people who think turning any prose from active to passive voice is a stroke of creative genius. ( /rant)

What say ye, bloggy peeps? What words or phrases would you banish, should you suddenly find yourself King or Queen of the Language?

(And, can I just add one more quick coda to say how proud — and, honestly, a little surprised — I was yesterday when Tristan correctly used the subjunctive tense in the phrase “if I were allowed to” as opposed to “if I was allowed to”. Yay for internalizing obscure grammar rules!!!)

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 kgirl March 17, 2009 at 9:28 am

I’d be happy to never hear the words, ‘going forward’ again.

‘MummyIpoopedcomewipeme’ I’d also be ok with not hearing.

2 alison March 17, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Have I given you my anti “signage” rant yet? There’s a perfectly good word for more than one sign. It’s ‘signs’. Oh, and the radio commercials for a lottery that announce “Over 1 million dollars in prizing”. Prizing? As a noun? And that’s not even getting into ‘over’ instead of ‘more than’.

And I’m kinda tired of ‘shovel-ready’ in the budget/economic stimulus stories on the news. As for corporate-speak, I could live very happily if I never heard ‘leverage the knowledge base’ and ‘stakeholders’ again.

3 colleen March 17, 2009 at 3:23 pm

I would ban the incprrect use of “impact/inpacted”. It drives me crazy. Whatever happened to affected?

4 colleen March 17, 2009 at 3:25 pm

That should read incorrect.

5 Ingrid March 17, 2009 at 3:32 pm

For me it’s “pick up”. I think that means to lift up, but some people use it to say “buy”. I guess that shows that English is not my mother tongue.

6 Fawn March 17, 2009 at 4:58 pm

I think the “utilize” thing is the one rule that REALLY stuck with me when I read Strunk & White’s Elements of Style years ago. It’s been a pet peeve ever since, which got me into one of the very rare arguments I had with my best girlfriend in university. Her argument was that her mom was an English major and used the word “utilize”.

However, they also had an issue with the word “moisturize” (for skin cream ads) preferring “moisten”, which goes to show they were both men. I think it was a new-ish word at the time the book was written, but growing up with the word, I’d say “moisturize” is to replenish the skin’s moisture content from the inside, while “moisten” would mean taking a damp face-cloth to one’s skin. 🙂 And I’m only going into this lengthy comment because when I was thinking that one through, it made me laugh to think about “moisturizing” one’s garden. LOL

7 Priscilla March 18, 2009 at 10:13 am

I’m with Colleen in nominating “impact/impacted.” I hate “impact/impacted” used as a verb. I’m an editor by profession, and I always change my authors’ “impacts” to “affects” or something similar.

I’m with you on “utilize,” too.

8 Kerry March 18, 2009 at 2:28 pm

I concur with my mum!

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