Posts tagged ‘words’

August 16, 2019

#153) How not to complain #10/Mid-Year Language Court 2019

I am an unapologetic language douche. I love being vindicated when I learn that other people feel the same way and that I’m not the only curmudgeon when it comes to “circle back”, “gentle reminder”, “adulting” and “Sunday Funday.” As the seven long-term followers of this blog know, I live for the release of Lake Superior State University’s annual Banished Words List like Jeffrey Epstein used to live for the three o’clock bell at St. Mary’s Junior High. When I saw that Britain’s Gyles Brandreth had compiled 38 Americanisms that the British bloody hate, I knew the right thing to do was to make my wife watch my father, who requires round-the-clock care due to advanced health problems, so I could peruse the list.

I probably should have stuck with Dad.

It’s no secret that Americans are idiots. The country that gave us Bhad Babie, Teen Mom and the Cheetoh is a broad target. The problem with Brandreth’s list is that – a few legitimate items notwithstanding – it makes you wonder why he is more concerned about Americans saying “a half hour” instead of “half an hour” than he is about Boris Johnson.

By the most stringent standards I’ve ever applied to my Language Court verdicts, of Brandreth’s 38 accused, there are only 9 guilty parties none of which are felonies (although 24/7 is dangerously close). Misdemeanor convictions include “Eaterie”, “Reach out to” and “Going forward.” These are far outnumbered by terms that I only hear at the Olympics (“medal” as a verb), phrases that I’ve never heard at all, Olympics or otherwise (“least worst option”) and items that make me wonder if Brandreth is simply trying to cultivate a reputation as a quirky Brit (advocating the use of “fortnight” instead of “bi-weekly.”)

Even if I were as annoyed as Brandreth at the use of “alternate” instead of “alternative”, “I got it for free” instead of “I got it free” and “regular” instead of “medium-sized” for coffee, I would find his explanations lacking. As someone who has never been particularly upset at the use of “transportation” instead of “transport”, I’d be curious to know why it irks him. It might at least make me better empathize with him – no, I don’t bristle at the use of “a million and a half” instead of “one and a half million” but if I knew why Brandreth did, it might make me feel like I haven’t become “Get Off My Lawn” guy because I think I should have the right to legally kill anyone who refers to their family as “fam bam.” Brandreth might have been better served to focus on quality (so to speak) than quantity of his complaints; the LSSU lists typically have no more than 20 items and while I don’t always agree with what goes on and stays off them, I am usually satisfied and entertained by the explanations.

Last, I have to ask if Brandreth really believes that he speaks for all Brits. To be sure, Americans have been causing British face-palms since 1776, but somehow I don’t think their biggest problem with us is usage of “expiration” instead of “expiration date.” Dare I say, I’d imagine that most of them (see item #37) could care less.

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January 1, 2019

#144) Language court 2019: 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?

January 2, 2018

#136) Language court 2018: the D-Theory verdicts on the LSSU 43rd annual list of banished words

Let me ask you this: was 2017 an impactful year or was it a big nothingburger? Hopefully you didn’t spill your covfefe while you were drilling down the tons of fake news stories over the hot water heater at the office – if so, you might have quickly learned about your company’s offboarding process. Let that sink in.

Truthfully, I was a little perplexed and disappointed by this year’s edition of Lake Superior State University’s Banished Words List. Did over use of “pre-owned” really come to that much of a head in 2017? How is it more annoying than the words and phrases that didn’t make the list? Am I really the only one who has to hold back violent impulses when confronted by the terms “Fri-yay”, “Sunday Funday”, “Adulting” and “Fam Bam?”

Oh well, I guess lists are meant to be debated, so debate we will. Because of the tepidity of this year’s list – several items did get me nodding my head but still fell short of making me say, “Thank GOD it’s not just me!” – a new level has been introduced: guilty parties will be divided into misdemeanors (annoying but not as severe) and felonies.

Court is in session. Time to unpack this list!

UNPACK

Charges: “Misused word for analyze, consider, assess.”

Verdict: Guilty (misdemeanor). The charges are valid but this word will soon run its course and will be as obscure to future generations as “real gone” is to millennials.

TONS

Charges: Refers to an exaggerated quantity…”Lots” would surely suffice

Verdict: Not guilty. Maybe I’m just hopelessly out of touch but I didn’t feel over-saturated by the word “tons” in 2017. Is “Lots” really that much more eloquent?

DISH

Charges: Let’s go back to “talk about” and leave the dishes in the cupboard.

Verdict: Not guilty.

PRE-OWNED

Charges: “What’s so disgraceful about owning a new car now and then?”

Verdict: Not guilty. Like “Tons”, this one has been around and at the same level for a while; sure, it could be retired but it’s harmless enough.

ONBOARDING/OFFBOARDING

Charges: Being a creature from the Human Resources lagoon.

Verdict: Guilty (misdemeanor). If Mike Judge decided to remake “Office Space” he would surely have some fun with this one – but like “Unpack” it will probably just soon fade into obscurity – especially as the gig economy takes over.

NOTHINGBURGER

Charges: Says nothing that “nothing” doesn’t already.

Verdict: Guilty (misdemeanor).

LET THAT SINK IN

Charges: “One could say, shocking, profound or important.”

Verdict: Not guilty. Yes, it’s a little preachy and ponderous, but there tons of far more preachy and ponderous things out there than this nothingburger.

LET ME ASK YOU THIS

Charges: “Just ask the question already.”

Verdict: Not guilty. These days people are jumping to conclusions without asking enough questions. Questions are important – even if they are wordier than necessary.

IMPACTFUL

Charges: A frivolous word groping for something “effective” or “influential.”

Verdict: Guilty (misdemeanor). When people realize they will no longer sound hip by using this word, it will fade.

COVFEFE

Charges: Self-explanatory.

Verdict: Guilty (felony). If you reward the two year old with a poopy diaper when he has a temper tantrum, you can’t get upset when it happens again.

DRILL DOWN

Charges: “Instead of expanding on a statement, we drill down on it.”

Verdict: Not guilty.

FAKE NEWS

Charges: “Fake news” is any story you disagree with.

Verdict: Guilty (felony).

HOT WATER HEATER

Charges: “Hot water does not need to be heated.”

Verdict: Not guilty; let’s stay away from this slippery slope. Do we want the court docket clogged every time someone says “ATM Machine” and “PIN Number?”

GIG ECONOMY

Charges: “Gigs are for musicians and stand up comedians.”

Verdict: Guilty (misdemeanor). The court hopes that a slap on the wrist will prevent this (so far) minor offender from becoming gratuitously overused and making anyone old enough to remember the first Bush presidency embarrass themselves by misusing it.

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?

December 30, 2013

#68) 14 Expressions I’d like to see retired for ’14

Three years ago, Lake Superior State University added “viral” and “epic” to their list of banished words.  At the risk of sounding like Lynne (“Eats, Shoots & Leaves”) Truss, I’ll put out my own list for 2014.  I’ll admit that this is a first world problem (a phrase which  might, along with FOMO, go on my 2015 list if I make one but doesn’t bug me enough to make this year’s cut) but I simply find these idioms, well, for lack of a better term, annoying.  Some of them don’t actually refer to the written or spoken word but to memes (see #13).  Without further ado:

#1) “….Said no one ever.”  This will still seem fresh and hip in 2014, said no one ever.

#2) “….Wait for it….” The problem is that most of the time “it” isn’t worth the wait.

#3) Putting. A. Period. After. Every. Word.

#4) “Wait, what?” I’ll admit that most people probably don’t find this expression nearly as annoying as I do.  In further disclosure I should probably say that the root of my annoyance with this phrase probably lies in having had it used on me by someone who’s checked out of one of my rants and is trying to find their way back in out of politeness.

#5) “Who knew?” This is another whose annoyance factor is somewhat hard to explain, so I’ll just leave it at this: my blog, my rules.

#6) “…Not so much.”  Only Borat is allowed to say this, just like he’s the only one who’s still allowed to still tell “NOT!” jokes.

#7) The word “Classy” has two, and only two, syllables.

#8) “(Bygone year) called; it wants its ____ back.”  I thought this one was already laid to rest until I saw it on a billboard.  I forget what product the advertisement was for and was thinking about trying to look it up but I don’t want to give them the free press.

#9) “I know, right?”  In my defense, I’m not the only blogger who has placed this on a list of expressions that should be laid to rest.  (See #2 on this list.)

#10) Any graphic using a witty comment and Gene Wilder.

#11) Any cartoon showing Batman bitch-slapping someone.

#12) I wish people used more hashtags on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. #saidnooneever

#13) Meme.

#14) Comparisons of anyone (even Hitler) to Rosa Parks.

In case you were wondering, which I realize you weren’t, I decided to leave “YOLO” off the list because  this shorthand expression for “You Only Live Once” is so ridiculous it’s actually pretty funny.  Furthermore, people often say “YOLO” right before doing something incredibly stupid which may well remove them from the gene pool; thus the phrase may actually make the world a better place.

So there you have it: my pet peeves.  Some people wish for world peace; some for the end of famine.  I wish for this.  If I’ve left out your favorite worn-out expression, let me know.