#144) Language court 2018: the D-Theory verdicts on the LSSU 44th annual list of banished words

It’s been difficult to wrap my head around the optics of this year’s list of banished words. I dare say, I’ve had to grapple to see why the crusty thought leaders at Lake Superior State University importantly feel that we should eschew some words while ghosting others (how did “_____ for days” dodge this year’s list?) Maybe they’re legally drunk or maybe it’s a collusion. Either way I can’t help feeling as if they’ve abused their platform.

Nevertheless, it’s time to litigate this year’s accoutrements.

Wheelhouse

Charges: “Irritating, has become a cliché…awkward word to use in the 21st century. Most people have never seen a wheelhouse.”

Verdict: Not guilty. Maybe I was just more anti-social than usual this year but I didn’t notice any particular overuse of this word.

In the books

Charges: “It seems as if everyone’s party is in the books…and…there for friends to view on social media.”

Verdict: Not guilty. The phrase may be somewhat cliché, but overuse of it didn’t come to a boiling point in 2018, at least not that I saw.

Wrap my head around

Charges: “Impossible to do and makes no sense.”

Verdict: Not guilty. Wrap your head around that, Linda of Bloomington, MN.

Platform

Charges: “People use it as an excuse to rant…step down from the platform already.”

Verdict: Guilty (misdemeanor). Indeed, the term “platform” does tend to glorify or legitimize crazy people and their rants. Not that I would know anything about ranting.

Collusion

Charges: “We all need to collude on getting rid of this word.”

Verdict: Guilty (misdemeanor). Like the Rosa Parks card, people tend to play this one too easily when confronted with an outcome not to their liking.

OTUS family of acronyms such as POTUS, FLOTUS and SCOTUS

Charges: “Overused, useless word for the President…”

Verdict: Guilty (felony). Maybe I’m just tired of political drama, but I’d be happy to see this acronym go. When I talk about the Supreme Court, I shouldn’t have to add “OTUS” to clarify that I’m not referring to the Seychelles. I also have to ask, am I the only one who can’t hear the words FLOTUS and SCOTUS without thinking of fetus and scrotum respectively? I am? Oh well, guess I didn’t mature as much as I thought I did in ’18.

Ghosting

Charges: “No need to bring the paranormal into the equation.”

Verdict: Not guilty. This word badly wants to become trendy but in the context of this court, “Ghosting” is the delinquent who dabbles in petty crime to impress the older kids but really just needs to go back home to the suburbs and let Mom and Dad ground him. (Or her – I shouldn’t assume gender.)

Yeet

Charges: Vigorously throw or toss (possible origins in onomatopoeia as a sound made either by the thrower or the throw-ee?) “If I hear one more freshman say ‘yeet’ I might just yeet myself out a window.”

Verdict: Guilty (misdemeanor). This could be argued as entrapment – “yeet” is a word that one is likely to find only when shamelessly wasting time on the internet or hunting for memes, as my, uh…friends…do. Still, entrapment or not, the verdict stands and will not be yeeted out.

Litigate

Charges: “Appropriated by politicians and journalists for any manner of controversy in the public sphere.”

Verdict: Not guilty. Personally I’d rather have seen “appropriated” get banished.

Grapple

Charges: “People who struggle with ideas and issues now grapple with them.”

Verdict: Not guilty.

Eschew

Charges: “Nobody ever actually says this word out loud, they just write it for filler.”

Verdict: Gesundheit! Not guilty.

Crusty

Charges: “This has become a popular insult. It’s disgusting and it’s weird.”

Verdict: Guilty (misdemeanor). Oh, it’s disgusting and weird all right, but not pouplar enough to merit a felonious conviction.

Optics

Charges: “The trendy way to say appearance.”

Verdict: Guilty (misdemeanor). Like “Giving me life” and “Nothingburger” from years past, a slap on the wrist will probably fix this.

Legally drunk

Charges: “People who are ticketed for drunk driving are actually “illegally drunk.”

Verdict: Not guilty. Save this one for the real courts to figure out.

Thought leader

Charges: “How can someone hold a thought-lead, much less even lead by thought?”

Verdict: Not guilty. While the term smacks of self-importance, it was not used widely enough to be prohibitively annoying.

Importantly

Charges: “Totally unnecessary when ‘important’ is sufficient.”

Verdict: Guilty (misdemeanor). Mark Twain supposedly said, “When you catch an adjective, kill it.” Technically “importantly” is an adverb, but I’m sure Twain would be happy to see it go.

Accoutrements

Charges: “Hard to spell…anachronistic.”

Verdict: Not guilty. With spelling pretty much a lost art these days, having a few words that require people to think when their guess is out of the range of auto-correct might not be a bad thing.

Most important election of our time

Charges: “Not that we haven’t had six or seven back to back most important elections of our time.”

Verdict: Guilty (felony). To use another quote attributed to Twain: “If voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.” Whether one is a political junkie or a proud ignoramus such as myself, it’s simply physically impossible for every election to be the most important of our time. Yes, it’s understandable to get emotionally caught up in elections, especially as they become more and more acrimonious. Deep breaths, folks.

Well, now that this year’s verdicts are in the books, what say you?

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