Friday, January 06, 2012

The 2012 Amazingly Ginormous List of Banned Words

The 2012 Amazingly Ginormous List of Banned Words

At the start of every new year, Lake Superior State University (LSSU) releases its list of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Useleness. And I pounce on that list for my first column of the year, like a divorce lawyer on a Kardashian marriage.

This is the list of words LSSU would like to see removed from everyday usage this year. This is their 37th annual list, and it is filled with all kinds of amazing nominations that will have amazingly amazing repercussions on our amazing langauge. It's just amazing.

First on LSSU's list?

"Amazing."

Apparently, a lot of people hate this word, because it got the most nominations of any word on the list. There's even a Facebook page called "Overuse of the Word Amazing."

One "amazing" nominator, Gregory of California, said, "although I am extremely happy to no longer hear the word 'awesome' used incorrectly and way too often, it appears to me it is quickly being replaced with 'amazing.'"

I take issue with that. I have proudly continued to use "awesome" incorrectly and "way too" often. I'm actually getting a little tired of "way too" as some kind of hipster substitution for "really," but I was never asked.

But I'm not that impressed with amazing anymore either. Maybe I'm getting old, maybe I'm getting boring, but I don't find too many amazing things amazing anymore. I find things are cool, great, and occasionally awesome, but still not amazing.

Keeping in the vein of "really really big" things being struck from use, "ginormous" made the list, mostly because it sounds stupid.

"This word is just a made-up combination of two words. Either word is sufficient, but the comination just sounds ridiculous," said Jason of Maine.

What's surprising about this word is that it's actually over 60 years old. A quick check of the dictionary shows that this word can be traced back to at least 1948 when people started combining "giant" and "enormous" to express a word for something so amazingly huge, they needed two words to describe it.

What I do find amazing, and oh so glorious, is that "baby bump" finally made the list. I was so pleased to see it on there, because I have hated that word with a white hot passion ever since I saw it in a British newspaper more than seven years ago.

I especially hate "baby bump" because it makes it sound like pregnancy is some cutesy fashion statement, like six inch wedge heels or carrying a lunchbox for a purse.

To be fair, I have also hated the terms "preggers," "carrying," and "WE'RE pregnant." I especially hate preggers. It's such an '80s mom thing to say, and I hate the way the word feels in my mouth, like I'm eating a frozen pine cone.

And the whole "WE'RE pregnant" thing? Dude, YOU are not anything. Your wife is pregnant. You're just standing there staying the same size, while she carries your child around, inside that ginormous baby bump.

On second thought, those words were banned, so I retract that whole "ginormous baby bump" thing. That, and my sister-in-law has been "carrying" for eight months, and I'll get a lot of "blowback" if she thinks I'm calling her ginormous.

Except "blowback" is now banned, which is awesome. Blowback has become the new "pushback," which I've also hated for years. Pushback was the word for "negative feedback" or "people saying they don't like that stupid decision you just made." But blowback was somehow bigger, more dramatic, and so overused that LSSU gleefully blew it up.

I do understand that pregnancy and parenthood are a "shared sacrifice," but that doesn't mean you can say "we're pregnant." Also, you can't say "shared sacrifice," since LSSU axed that word as well.

"Shared sacrific," says Scott from Michigan, is "usually used by a politician who wants other people to share in the sacrifice so he/she doesn't have to." In this case, it's overused, since every politician is trying to blame all the others for the banks' mismanagement and poor government spending in the last five years.

In the past, I have been resistant to many of LSSU's nominees to their Banned Words list. But this year, there are words that I absolutely hate, and I hope that people everywhere will realize these linguistic abominations need to be retired from our collective vocabulary. And I hope that you will do your part in helping me to end these dialectical deformities.

I would like to "thank you in advance" for your efforts.

Except they banned that one too.



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4 comments:

  1. I am usually surprised at how quickly the latest word trends catch on and become "de rigueur" practically overnight, especially when I find myself using some word or phrase that I know darned well is sloppy English!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Can we please add netspeak terms used in conversation? This includes (but is not limited to): meh, WTF, OMG, like/dislike, and fail/win. Such overuse of these terms in corporate culture are bad enough in an email. To hear them used in speech makes me cringe.

    http://bdgjm.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Shane, they have added a few netspeak terms over the years. If you go to www.lssu.edu, you can peruse the old lists and see which ones made the list. Sadly, a word that appears on LSSU's list doesn't mean it's going to be banned. It just means it's so overused our moms are using it now.

    Mellodee, I know what you mean. I don't even know how these things spread. I would love to see someone trace the route a word takes to become a new word.

    ReplyDelete
  4. An awesome article, thanks for sharing it.

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    ReplyDelete

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