Words: Banished and Best of 2009

by DaniGirl on January 14, 2010 · 3 comments

in Wordplay

It’s a great week for content here at the Mothership. Earlier in the week, we had a righteous (but, as always, entirely civil) debate about parenting, and today we have some word geekery. All we need is a cute kid anecdote and we’ve hit the “my favourite things” trifecta!!

I’ve blogged about Lake Superior State University’s Banished Words list each year from 2006 through 2008, so of course I had to bring you the 2009 list. Rather than list them for you, I just cut-and-paste LSSU’s press release. The bolded terms are, of course, the banished words.

Word czars at Lake Superior State University unfriended 15 words and phrases and declared them shovel-ready for inclusion on the university’s 35th annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.

“The list this year is a teachable moment conducted free of tweets,” said a Word Banishment spokesman who was chillaxin for the holidays. “In these economic times, purging our language of toxic assets is a stimulus effort that’s too big to fail.”

Former LSSU Public Relations Director Bill Rabe and friends created “word banishment” in 1975 at a New Year’s Eve party and released the first list on New Year’s Day. Since then, LSSU has received tens of thousands of nominations for the list, which includes words and phrases from marketing, media, education, technology and more.

Other terms nominated for banishment included sexting, App, transparency and bromance.

One can’t help but notice the congruence of “Tweet” being on one group’s Banished Words list while being named the Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society.

Other nominees for ADS’s 2009 Word of the Year were:

-er A suffix used in such words as birther, someone who questions whether Obama was born in the United States; deather, someone who believes the government has death panels in its healthcare reform plan; Tenther, someone who believes the Federal government is mostly illegal because it usurps rights which belong to the States, in violation of the 10th Amendment; and truther, someone who doubts the official account of the 9/11 attacks.
fail A noun or interjection describing something egregiously unsuccessful. Usually used as an interjection: “FAIL!”
H1N1 The virus that causes swine flu.
public option A government-run healthcare insurance program, desired by some to be part of the country’s healthcare reform.
Dracula sneeze Covering one’s mouth with the crook of one’s elbow when sneezing, seen as similar to popular portrayals of the vampire Dracula, in which he hides the lower half of his face with a cape.

And of course, since we changed not only years but decades this past New Years Eve, we have a Year of the Decade list from the American Dialect Society, too. The winner, quite rightly IMHO, is google. Note the small “g” – it’s google the verb, as in to search the Internet, and not Google the company. Also-rans in the Word of the Decade contest were: blog, 9-11, green, text, war on terror and Wi-Fi.

(In the ADS press release, they have a list of prior winners. In January 2000, the Word of the Decade was web, the Word of the Twentieth Century was jazz and the Word of the Millennium was she.)

I always find the banished words more fun than the favourited ones (oh look, there’s another term that didn’t exist 10 years ago: favourite as a verb) and not only because the ADS’s list is a little too, um, Americanized for my taste. Frankly, I hadn’t even heard of some of the terms they nominated.

So speak up, bloggy peeps. What words or phrases would you banish if you could and why? Or, take the other road and tell me what you think the most influential word of the decade should be. (Personally, I’d ban the words “why” and “no” exclusively because my toddler has worn my nerves to stubble by using them as a torture device.)

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Wendy January 14, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Awesome post! RT @DaniGirl: [Blogcasting] Words: Banished and Best of 2009 http://tinyurl.com/yb5usml

2 Rebecca S January 14, 2010 at 1:56 pm

I overuse chilaxin' RT @DaniGirl: [Blogcasting] Words: Banished and Best of 2009 http://tinyurl.com/yb5usml

3 SC January 15, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Love this list! Look forward to your post on it every year as well!

My fave this year is definitely Bromance…. but I actually love how the media combines words and names like that!

My personal banist words list is: seriously, WTF?, so we’ll see, and whatnot.

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