Lake Superior State University's Banned Words for 2009

Lake Superior State University's Banned Words for 2009

Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2009

It's that time of year again. Or at least it was.

At the first of each year, I write about Lake Superior State University's List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness. This year is their 34th, and my fifth.

Each year, LSSU comes up with a list of words they would like to see banned from our language forever, or at least for the year. And for whatever reason, "it's that time of year" got the axe. But I happen to like it, so I'll be a maverick and keep on using it.

Or I would be if they hadn't nixed "maverick" as well. Re-introduced to our common lexicography by Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential campaign, and then beaten to death by Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live, the word was used so much that ". . . even the Maverick family, who descended from the rancher who inspired the term, says it's being mis-used," Scott Urbanowski of Kentwood, Michigan said on LSSU's site. Meanwhile, Matthew Mattila of Green Bay, Wisconsin recommended a five-year banishment so it won't be used in the 2012 elections.

So what do we call people who do things that are unconventional, out of the mainstream, and maybe just a little weird? Are they a Palin?

But Palin and her husband Todd, Alaska's First Dude, have been relegated back to Alaska, except we can't call him the First Dude.

"Skateboard English is not an appropriate way to refer to the spouse of a high-ranking public official," said Paul Ruschmann of Canton, Michigan. Maybe not, Paul, but it beats calling Bill Clinton the First Player.

While the environment was a big part of the presidential campaign, people are getting tired of some of the eco-terminology, especially "green." Even the variations of green, like "going green," "green building," and "greening" made people see red.

A lot of companies claim to be going green. From "greener" SUVs that get 20 miles per gallon instead of 16, to "green" computer servers that only uses 10 megawatts of power instead of 12, to "green" McMansions that are thousands of square feet in size and cause the neighborhood lights to flicker whenever they fire up the air conditioning.

You would think that someone like Tom Friedman, author of "Hot, Flat, and Crowded," a book on the perils of man-made global warming and owner of the now-famous 11,000 square foot mansion in Maryland, would want to offset his carbon footprint. But, alas, he can't, because "carbon footprint" and "carbon offsetting" have been chopped down as well. That, and his house is the size of five-and-a-half regular homes.

Regardless of LSSU's feelings toward environmental terms, you're probably on a desperate search to find a way to help the environment. Or you would have been, but "desperate search" has been told to get lost.

"Every time the news can't find something intelligent to report, they start on a 'desperate search' for someone, somewhere," said Rick Hyatt of Saratoga, Wyoming. Hey Rick, if it wasn't for desperate searches, Nancy Grace's "news" show would be canceled.

"Bailout" also got canceled. People are sick of the term, partly because they hear it all the time, and partly because it was only Ford, GMC, and Chrysler who benefited from it. (And Chrysler who managed to squander a lot of it, what with nearly $1 million in full-page newspaper ads thanking America for its "investment" in their company.)

"Don't we love how Capitol Hill will bailout Wall Street, but not Main Street?" asked Derrick Chamberlain, Midland, Michigan.

Apparently, you can't swing a dead cat on Main Street or Wall Street without finding some politician who uses the verbal parallel ad nauseam, which means you can't swing another dead cat without finding an LSSU Laker who banned Wall Street/Main Street too.

"I know that with the 'Wall Street' collapse, the comparison is convenient, but really, let's find another way to talk about everyman or the middle class, or even, heaven forbid, 'Joe the Plumber,'" said Stacey of Knoxville, Tennessee.

Astonishingly, Joe the Plumber did not make LSSU's list. I was personally tired of hearing that name day after day during the presidential campaign. Apparently so was Joe, because he went so far as to skip out on a campaign appearance with John McCain.

Did he even like McCain? Apparently not so much.

Surprise, surprise, LSSU doesn't like "not so much" so much either. It's used too much to be of much use, although I happen to like it. One contributor said it's a favorite of "snarky critics and bloggers."

Snarky? I'm not snarky.

I'm a maverick.

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