Posts tagged ‘Lake Superior State banished words list’

January 1, 2020

#159) Language court 2020: the D-Theory verdicts on the 45th annual LSSU banished words list

OK, boomers! I literally hope you are living your best lives and none of your friends made you totes jelly at your New Year’s Eve vibe check by posting curated pictures of artisanal cocktails with great mouthfeel, just like the ones they saw on their favorite influencer’s Instagram feed.

As anyone who has read this blog (you have my sympathies) knows, the Lake Superior State Univeristy’s annually released Banished Words List is like my Rose Parade. This year, the process of combing the list and rendering my own verdicts about whether a word or phrase belongs is bittersweet. My father, who recently died following a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s disease, was, among many other things, an incorrigible language curmudgeon (Lord help the poor soul who said “quantum leap” or mixed up “lay” and “lie” within his earshot). Though we never specifically geeked out on these lists together, we would often bemoan how certain phrases would, to paraphrase LSSU, be misused, overused or become generally useless (Dad once suggested that any restaurant or other business that used extra “E”s in its name for effect should have to pay a tax – pony up, Ye Goode Olde Tyme Inne.) So Therefore, I dedicate my verdicts on this year’s list to the memory of my father, Willie Lockeretz, a wonderful man and a relentless grammar douche to the very end.

Quid Pro Pro

Charges: The most nominated word of the year; “Its popularity had the committee wondering what it should offer in exchange for next year’s nominations.”

Verdict: Not guilty. Yes, it has been overused, but the precedent of this court is that mere annoyance isn’t enough for a conviction. In the case of “quid pro pro”, the use has been largely limited to a specific event and correctly used within that context. Therefore, the court finds “quid pro pro” not guilty with the condition that it…wow, look at the time! We’ve got to get moving with this docket.

Artisanal

Charges: Attempting to make something more than it is.

Verdict: Guilty (misdemeanor). The court was tired of this one a long time ago but doesn’t want to waste energy on the appeals that will result from a felony conviction, so misdemeanor it is.

Curated

Charges: Attempting to make something more than it is.

Verdict: Not guilty by double jeopardy. While the court agrees with Barb from Ann Arbor that the word should be saved for the museum, it was included on the 2015 list and found guilty.

Influencer

Charges: “A word Instagram users use to describe themselves to make them feel famous and important when no one really knows or cares who they are.”

Verdict: Not guilty. Remember, the concept itself is not what’s on trial; it’s the word we use to describe the concept and “influencers” do just that. As for self-described influencers, they are usually more laughable than annoying and their career only lasts as long as it takes for them to realize they aren’t influencing anyone. The court leaves it to social media to respond in the careful, nuanced way that it usually does.

Literally

Charges: “One of the few words in English that has begun to serve as its own antonym.”

Verdict: Guilty (misdemeanor).

Living my best life

Charges: “Are there options for ‘multiple lives’?”

Verdict: Guilty (felony). However altruistic the idea may be, the phrase “living your best life” has been rendered meaningless through overuse (cough *influencers* cough.)

Mouthfeel

Charges: “Where else, exactly, would you like to touch your food or beverage?”

Verdict: Guilty (misdemeanor).

Chirp

Charges: “Before we get chirped for being out of touch, why don’t we leave it to the birds?”

Verdict: Not guilty.

Jelly

Charges: “Better left for toast.”

Verdict: Guilty (felony). No, overuse didn’t spike in 2019, but like a “three strikes” convict who is sentenced to life for shoplifting Marbs, its past has caught up with it.

Totes

Charges: Being “totes” overused

Verdict: Totes guilty (felony).

Vibe/vibe check

Charges: “This one just doesn’t vibe with us anymore, unless the speaker is actually vibrating.”

Verdict: G-g-g-g-g-g-guilty (m-m-m-m-isdemeanor).

OK, Boomer

Charges: Self-explanatory.

Verdict: Guilty (suspended sentence). This first-time offender has shown potential in community service, aka reclaimed use by boomers (and the occasional Generation X-er, such as the court). The court will monitor “OK Boomer” in 2020 to see if fulfills its community service by turning itself against millennials and Gen Z – like a parent who realizes that the best way to get your kids to stop smoking pot is to say, “So, gang! What are we going to for 4/20?”

What say you?

January 2, 2015

#89) Language court: the D-Theory verdicts on 2015’s Banished Words

I hope your take-away from this hack is that you need to curate the skill set to be a good foodie, Bae.

Every year, Lake Superior State University releases a list of words or expressions that should be “banished from Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.” In keeping with this blog’s ongoing theme of devoting far too much time and energy to trivial issues while ignoring significant ones, I am proud to present the D-Theory Verdicts on each list item from the 2015 list. Court is now in session, the honorable judge D-Lock presiding.

“BAE”

Charges: Used both as shorthand for “Before Anything Else” and as a term of endearment (contraction of “Babe”).

Verdict: Guilty. While the court has not personally found this word to be over-used or annoying, it certainly has the potential to be. The preemptive guilty verdict has numerous precedents, in which the list has accurately predicted the rise of a word’s over-use several years out (see  “____ is the new ____” making the 2008 list.)

“POLAR VORTEX”

Charges: Requiring twice as many syllables as its synonym, “Winter.”

Verdict: Not guilty. This one will run itself out.

“HACK”

Charges: Over-use and misuse.

Verdict: Not guilty. Like “Polar Vortex”, this one has the good fortune of being listed at the peak of its popularity and will likely fade, or at least become less ubiquitous, in ’15 and beyond. Additionally, unintentionally humorous uses of the word (“Marriage hacks”) offset the annoyance it brings.

“SKILL SET”

Charges: Adding an extra word (“set”) that doesn’t change or amplify the first word (“skill”).

Verdict: Not guilty. The prosecution presented a weak argument, proving that while this phrase may be somewhat mundane, attempts to rephrase it usually tend to be awkward.

“SWAG”

Charges: Being a “shapeless, meaningless word…with no real depth.”

Verdict: Not guilty; this one is harmless enough and will probably run its course before long.

“FOODIE”

Charges: Being a synonym of “Everybody.” After all, who doesn’t like to eat?

Verdict: Guilty. While it may once have implied a sort of connoisseurship, nowadays with anyone being able to label themselves a foodie, the term has lost its meaning. (See also: Curate/Curated)

“CURATE/CURATED”

Charges: Being a pretentious synonym for “Collected.”

Verdict: Guilty. The problem is that, unlike, say, “Cra-Cra”, people often use this word without realizing how it makes them sound. As Alex Williams puts it in this article, “Among designers, disc jockeys, club promoters, bloggers and thrift-store owners, curate is code for ‘I have a discerning eye and great taste.’”

“CRA-CRA” (See also: Cray-Cray)

Charges: Self-explanatory.

Verdict: Guilty.

“FRIEND-RAISING”

Charges: “The word suggests that we develop relationships not for the simple value of the person we call ‘friend’…but that we instead develop these relationships out of some sort of expectation of a monetary reward.”

Verdict: Not guilty. The court had to Google this one so it can’t be too ubiquitous. Besides, the court has been on both sides of the friend-raising equation too many times to deny the validity of the concept.

“ENHANCED INTERROGATION”

Charges: Being a “shameful euphemism for torture.”

Verdict: Guilty. Like most attempts to appease, this one won’t make people on either side of the issue happy.

“TAKE-AWAY”

Charges: Over-use.

Verdict: Not guilty. Like “Skill set”, this term may be over-used by people who want to sound trendy, but while there may be different ways to word the concept, are “lesson” and “moral” really any better?

“-NATION”

Charges: Over-use and misuse.

Verdict: Not guilty; not worth getting upset over. When a bunch of sports fans call themselves “(Team name) Nation”, it’s all in good fun. That said, there are certain teams for whom the “Nation” tag has more of a pedigree (Red Sox) and some for which it seems a little out of place (also see: Artichoke Nation.)

What say you?