Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Banished Words

Living in Michigan, you would think I'd have heard of Lake Superior State University's annual list of Banished Words. LSSU (go Lakers!) is in Sault Ste. Marie way up in the Upper Peninsula and apparently every year someone there publishes a list of words that, in their opinion, should be banned from use forever. Having poured over this list and the lists of years past, I have to say, I can't really argue with them in nearly all cases.

From their website:
The "back story" on LSSU's popular list began on Jan. 1, 1976, when former LSSU Public Relations Director Bill Rabe and a group of friends each contributed a few expressions that they disliked to form the first list. After that, the nominations stacked up for future lists and Rabe's group, known then as The Unicorn Hunters, didn't have to make up its own list again. LSSU receives well over 1,000 nominations annually through its website, http://www.lssu.edu/banished.
Why I've never heard of this, nor the history of the Unicorn Hunters, is unknown and is nearly unforgivable as a Michigander. However, I think I can get over it enough to share with you some of the words that are banished in 2011 so that you can stop using them in your daily speech, correspondences, and (heaven forbid) poems...
  • FAIL
  • BFF
  • MAN UP
All of these definitely belong on the list, right? (My nomination for their next list is the use of "right" at the end of a sentence.) In fact, the list goes on--read it here.

And if you're like me and you've never heard of this list, you probably need to read their archive so that you can stop using words and phrases like czar, tweet, and teachable moment (2010); awesome (I'm in trouble on that one, big time), we're pregnant, and chipotle (2007); segue, road rage, and thinking outside the box (2000); target audience, jumbo shrimp, and vast majority (1995); dead meat, longer hours, and if you will (1991); and finally macho, meaningful, and scenario (the inaugural list of 1976).

That "awesome" banishment is really going to be a problem. I'll have to work on that. Until then I think I might assign students to write a poem from the point of view of one of the banished words. That prompt would be a designer breed (2007) of a prompt, one of epic (2011) proportions and so sweet (2008) that it would decimate (2008) even the red states' (2005) extreme (2003) standards of excellence and be a game changer (2009) into the foreseeable future (2002).

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