Thursday, January 11, 2007

Ask Your Doctor How Awesome Chipotle Is

Ask Your Doctor How Awesome Chipotle Is
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2007

Call the neighbors and wake the kids. It's time for Lake Superior State University's annual List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness.

At the beginning of each year, LSSU (official motto: "Hey, we're over here!") releases its 32nd annual list of words it wants to ban from our every day usage. And I agree with this year's list for the most part. (For the entire list, go to www.lssu.edu/banished.)

I have covered the banned list for the past few years, and detailed the latest linguistic losses from LSSU's literary lance, although not so alliteratively. Each year's entries include words that have been overused, incorrectly used, or are just plain stupid, and should therefore be banned. And this year's list is no exception.

In fact, you might say the list is "awesome." At least, you would if LSSU hadn't nixed this one, although I disagree with their choice. I happen to love the word.

LSSU originally gave it one-year moratorium when it was banished by their famed Unicorn Hunters in 1984 ( along with "gnarly," "totally," and "to the max"), with the hopes that the word would be "rehabilitated until it means 'fear mingled with admiration or reverence; a feeling produced by something majestic.'"

(Example: "I think Erik Deckers is awesome.")

However, I think LSSU should have left this one alone. I use the word frequently, and always mean 'admiration, reverence, and majestic' when I do. You're getting married? Awesome. You're having a baby? Awesome. We're having steak tonight? Awesome.

Unfortunately, many of LSSU's contributors feel the word is now a re-offender and should be banished forever. But don't worry, Awesome, I'll fight for you with my last overly-cliched breath, because I think you're just, well, really neat.

"Pwn" or "pwned" is a casualty that hails from the online gaming world. It's actually a typo, where someone types in "I pwn you" instead of "I own you."

"It has been overused to the point that people who play online games are using it in every day speech," said contributor Tony Rowley of Corunna, Michigan.

"Dude, I 'pwn' you!" these gamers shout to each other as they work at their shopping mall kiosks. "All your base are belong to us!"

But being taunted by 30-year-old sci-fi geeks is better than being involved in an armed robbery or drug deal "gone bad," especially since that phrase was also given the axe. I would think that any armed robbery or drug deal "went bad" from the outset, since it was originally an activity being carried out for nefarious purposes. It only gets worse if someone dies as a direct result of it.

Still, if someone is on the wrong end of said armed robbery, they should "ask their doctor" if hot lead slugs are right for them. Okay, maybe they shouldn't, since LSSU banned that phrase too, calling it "the chewable vitamin morphine of marketing."

It's one of those phrases that serves as both a warning and a marketing call to action. The drug companies don't want you to spend sleepless nights wondering if you should buy the drug, but they also don't want you to ask just any clod for pharmaceutical advice.

"Boy, I'm sure glad that commercial told me to ask my doctor whether them heart pills is right for me. I was gonna ask Big Earl down at the fillin' station."

You can't ask your doctor whether "we're pregnant" either, because LSSU has grounded that phrase for nine months. "We" ain't doing anything, they contend. "She" is the one doing all the work, what with the growing stomach and mood swings. "He" just did that thing at the beginning, and then sits around and watches TV for the next nine months.

Or as Marlena Linne of Greenfield, Indiana said, "I'm sure any woman who has given birth will tell you that 'WE' did not deliver the baby."

"Chipotle" also took a hit. The word, which is commonly misspelled on restaurant menus as "chipoLTe," is nothing more than a roasted jalapeno. It's also the name of my third favorite burrito restaurant.

But LSSU has thrown this one out because, as contributor Rob Zeiger said, "Now we have a 'chipotle' burrito with 'chipotle' marinated meat, 'chipotle' peppers, sprinkled with a 'chipotle' seasoning and smothered in a 'chipotle' sauce."

Sounds chipot-alicious.

LSSU is already accepting nominations for the 2008 list at www.lssu.edu/banished. Just go to the website, submit your word, and if you're lucky, your word will be seen far and wide, and written up in next year's Laughing Stalk column.

How awesome is that?

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