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LSSU's List of Banned Words for 2010

LSSU's List of Banned Words for 2010

Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2009/2010

It's the end of the year, which means word nerds and writer-types around the country are rejoicing: the Lake Superior State University has released their 35th annual List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use, and General Uselessness.

The list was created by former LSSU PR director Bill Rabe and a few of his cronies in 1975 and released on January 1, 1976. Back then, words like "meaningful," "macho," and "detente" felt Rabe's wrath. This year was culled from tens of thousands of submissions from all around the world, and released in time for this column.

In the past, the list has usually been released on the first day of the new year. This is the first year I can recall it being "shovel-ready" on December 31st. In other words, the list was completed and ready for implementation.

The problem is "shovel-ready" made the very top of the LSSU list. I don't know if it just happened to land there, or if the committee really, really hated it. But "shovel-ready" got the axe.

Jerry Reddington of Keosauqua, Iowa said "when something dies, it, too, is shovel-ready for burial." In that sense, "shovel-ready" is now shovel-ready.

One of my much-hated words made the list this year: "transparent" or "transparency." I work in social media, and a lot of my peers use this word. It's supposed to mean that we're allowed to see behind the curtain and see what processes are in place. We want our government to be more transparent, so we can see what they're doing. We want big corporations to be more transparent, so we can understand how they cook the books. But LSSU banned it too.

Thank you, guys.

And while being transparent is the opposite of being secretive, people are using the word to mean "don't keep secrets." Why we just can't say "public," "out in the open," or "not secretive" is beyond me.

I think we need to find a "teachable moment," where we can encourage others to stop using the word. Except "teachable moment" is shovel-ready now too. (The burial kind, not the ready to implement kind.)

Good riddance. I used to use the word — a fancy way of saying "a lesson" — when I worked at a college. We used it then because we were truly trying to find teachable moments to give to our young charges while they were in our care. Now everybody is using it, and I'm ready to whack it with a shovel.

Eric Rosenquist of College Station, Texas said the term is "a condescending substitute for 'opportunity to make a point.'" I have to agree. Frankly, it sounds too touchy-feely. Instead of "teaching someone," people feel they have to "find a teachable moment."

Here's a teachable moment for you: don't use four words when two will suffice.

LSSU was apparently hoping that "tweet" would be my teachable moment. They want to get rid of this word, because, as Ricardo of Merida, Mexico said, "(it) has lost all meaning."

I'm going to have to break with the Fighting Lakers on this one. I love the word tweet, and "all of its variations. . .tweetaholic, retweet, twitterhea, twitterature, twittersphere." This is my world, my bailiwick. I am the master of this domain, the king of all I twurvey. Tweeting has become an important word.

Anyone who uses Twitter, the 140-character public messaging service, understands what it means. If you don't use it, you won't understand it. Twitter has become this decade's email, widely used, and slowly taking over everything.

Still, I'm not surprised to see the LSSU word squad try to ban the future. In 2000, they tried to ban "E-anything." E-commerce, e-tailing, e-communication were hit with the school's Delete key.

In fact, LSSU went after a lot of social media and electronic communication methods this year. Not only did they ban tweet, but they had a whack at "app" (short for application), "sexting" (sending sexually explicit pictures and text messages via cell phone), and "friending" (a verb that means adding them to your social network, like Facebook).

While some of these may seem rather harsh and restrictive, I think LSSU has provided a great service yet again, especially "in these economic times." They're helping us get rid of these linguistic "toxic assets" in our everyday language. So if this list upsets you, you just need to "chillax."

Dang it.

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