Friday, January 07, 2011

Lake Superior State University Releases 2011 List of Banished Words

Lake Superior State University Releases 2011 List of Banished Words

Every year, Lake State Superior University releases its List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use, and General Uselessness. And for the past several years, I've had some fun with it, heartily agreeing with the words to be banned, and making fun of their general existence.

This year, however, I took serious issue with the list. All I can think is that certain words are being attacked by people who hate technology, are stuck in the 70s, or think "FaceSpace" is for young people to tell everyone what they had for breakfast.

Some of these words were dismissed, I think, by people who still worry about "hooligans" causing a "hoopla" in their "dungarees."

Listen, if the world has passed you by, that's fine. If your great-great-grandkids are using words you don't understand, or frighten and confuse you, that's okay; you're still a good person. But just because you don't use certain words — or modern technology — doesn't mean the rest of us have to quit.

So, let me "refudiate" some of the entries on this list.

We'll just start with "refudiate." It's not even a real word. It was made up by someone who quit her job halfway before it was over so she could travel. A linguistic mashup of "refute" and "repudiate," this new "word" (and I'm being generous by calling it that) has been used by everyone else in the country with a sense of irony with one exception: the Oxford American Dictionary called "refudiate" the word of the year for 2010, I think mostly out of a sense of snobbery and spite. It's just "stupidiate."

While we're on the subject of right-wing female politicians who make up awful words, LSSU took a shot at "Mama Grizzlies" too. I can get on board with that.

I'm surprised that a lot of women have adopted the term for themselves with such eagerness. I had always understood that if I compared a woman to a fat, hairy, enraged beast that can eat an entire moose in one sitting, she'd kill me with one swipe of her big meaty paw.

I'm just sayin'.

Or at least I would, but LSSU isn't letting me "just sayin'" anything about it. I happen to like the phrase. It's a way to say, "I'm just pointing out what everyone else is thinking," or "it's the elephant in the room, and I'm the only one with the intestinal fortitude to speak up. Mostly."

I've used it on many different occasions. It's a great way to lighten up the mood or even add some punch to a joke. But I can see how it's being overused. I will reluctantly agree that it may be nearing its end, but I'll be one of the last people to let it go.

But what about the words that are being needlessly banished?

Using "Google" and "Facebook" as verbs got the axe. I agree with Facebook being booted, but Google? Come on, it's one of those words that just naturally evolved into a new word? It's certainly easier to say than "searched on a search engine." Saying things like "I Googled that story" or "I just Googled myself," not only convey an understanding of what we just did on the computer, but they give us something to giggle about because we just said something that sounded dirty.

Why can't this become one of those words that is just used because the language is naturally evolving into something new because of external forces around us? Google has been one of the biggest reasons how we use the Internet. I think using it as a verb is a natural progression of the language.

Besides, the people who hate it just need to man up about it.

Or at least they could if LSSU hadn't given "man up" a swift kick in the Google.

One male contributor said the phrase was "bullying and sexist." Another contributor, who made sure we knew he had a Ph.D., called it "a chest-thumping cultural regression fit for frat boys stacking beer glasses."

For one thing, it's not sexist. It's a way of saying "get tough, get mean, and don't let this thing get you down." Women are expected to "woman up" when appropriate, so I don't see the problem. Men who start whining that something is sexist need to man up themselves.

For another thing, we frat boys stacked beer cans, not glasses, because otherwise they shattered and cut our little tootsies.

So, both of you can just man up, or save your sniveling for your Pretty Dolly Tea Party.

I'm just sayin'.

My book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is available on, as well as at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

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1 comment:

  1. Loved it, loved it, loved it!!!! Way too funny and so dead on. I am in the process of starting my own blog, you have the tone of voice that I love to read and now I am a fan and will try to check in frequently. Keep up the laughs. Thanks, for the inspiration you didnt even mean to offer.


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