Skip to main content

So, This Year's Banned Words List is Problematic

So, every year, I look forward to Lake Superior State University's List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use, and General Uselessness. But this year is not as emotionally satisfying as past lists.

It has some words that should have been banned years ago, and others that I just don't care about. So I don't feel as emotionally connected to the 41st annual list.

"So" made the list this year, although it's actually the second go-around for the offending utterance. In 1999, it made the list for things like "I am SO tired of you people." And now it's back again for being used at the beginning of sentences. Sort of like I did twice in the first two paragraphs.

I can't figure out when this became a problem. Either I've never really noticed it, or I've been doing it for such a long time, I'm used to it. So, I was pretty surprised when I learned this was a problem for a lot of people. But that doesn't mean I'm going to stop it. Some people think starting a sentence with "but" and "and" is a terrible thing. But I've done that several times already. And I'm not going to quit that either.

So there.

We could have a conversation about it, if it will make you feel better. Except LSSU banned "conversation" now. As in "join the conversation," which I hear on NPR call-in shows.

Every day. Every single day.

I'm always encouraged to "join the conversation," because the hosts either can't think of anything else to say, or that phrase was carved into the studio desk with a switchblade.

They tell me I can "join the conversation" on Facebook and Twitter.

Except there's no conversation on Facebook. There's never a real "conversation" on Facebook. Unless it involves shouting one's political opinions, refusing to listen to anyone else, and calling them names when they don't agree with you.

Also, most conversations don't include that one photo of Willie Wonka looking so smug you just want slap him.

"(Conversation) has replaced 'discussion,' 'debate,' 'chat,' 'discourse,' 'argument,' 'lecture,' 'talk'. . . all of which can provide some context to the nature of the communication," said Richard Fry, of Marathon, Ontario. He echoed the sentiments of other submitters who said the term was not only overused, it was used by people who still didn't listen.

That's problematic in a conversation, except LSSU just banned "problematic." The Urban Dictionary calls it "a corporate-academic weasel word;" I think it's just another word for "a problem."

The problem with "problematic" is that people like to use it, and other bigger words, to sound smart. They figure if they can take a short, two-syllable word like "problem," and turn it into a four-syllable word, they must be intelligentatic.

Still, this isn't the big controversial word I hoped it would be. I mean, people may find it slightly annoying, but it's not the hair-grabbing words from the past, like "bae" from last year's list, or 2008's "awesome."

No, the one that makes me want to tear my hair out is "vape" and "vaping," which refer to the act of smoking electronic cigarettes. There's just something about e-cigarettes that I loathe in the first place, partly because people think it's okay to do inside a restaurant because it's "not smoke."

Worse than that, they don't even know how stupid it looks. You wouldn't have seen James Dean on a motorcycle, with a cyborg cigarette hanging from his mouth. James Bond doesn't pull a cigarette case and battery pack from his dinner jacket.

I think LSSU should skip the word, and see what they can do about banning vaping altogether, simply on the grounds that it makes the user look like a clueless dork. (Unless you're one of my friends who vapes. Then you look awesome. Forget I said anything.)

The other problem is that vaping has a low "price point" compared to cigarettes.

What's that? "Price point?" It means "price."

Just like "problematic," "price point" complicates language so MBA squinches can feel good about themselves. "Price" is a very short word: five letters, one syllable, that very clearly means what it said, so someone plopped down a second word that doesn't clarify, doesn't enhance, doesn't do anything useful. It's the middle management of language.

Those are just a portion of LSSU's list of banned words for 2016. And if I missed your favorite word, or you disagree with my support of certain words, I can only offer one response:

So?


You can find my books Branding Yourself (affiliate link), No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.

Comments

  1. I love everything about this post. THANKS, Eric, for starting my new year off with a good chuckle.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I am accepting comments from people with Google accounts to cut down on spam.
Otherwise, spam comments will be deleted with malicious glee.

Popular posts from this blog

AYFKMWTS?! FBI Creates 88 Page Twitter Slang Guide

TFBIHCAEEPTSD.

Did you get that? It's an acronym. Web slang. It's how all the teens and young people are texting with their tweeters and Facer-books on their cellular doodads.

It stands for "The FBI has created an eighty-eight page Twitter slang dictionary."

See, you would have known that if you had the FBI's 88 page Twitter slang dictionary.

Eighty-eight pages! Of slang! AYFKMWTS?! (Are you f***ing kidding me with this s***?! That's actually how they spell it in the guide, asterisks and everything. You know, in case the gun-toting agents who catch mobsters and international terrorists get offended by salty language.)

I didn't even know there were 88 Twitter acronyms, let alone enough acronyms to fill 88 pieces of paper.

The FBI needs to be good at Twitter because they're reading everyone's tweets to see if anyone is planning any illegal activities. Because that's what terrorists do — plan their terroristic activities publicly, as if they were…

Understanding 7 Different Types of Humor

One of my pet peeves is when people say they have a "dry" sense of humor, without actually understanding what it actually means.

"Dry" humor is not just any old type of humor. It's not violent, not off-color, not macabre or dark.

Basically, dry humor is that deadpan style of humor. It's the not-very-funny joke your uncle the cost analysis accountant tells. It's Bob Newhart, Steven Wright, or Jason Bateman in Arrested Development.

It is not, for the love of GOD, people, the Black Knight scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I swear, if anyone says Monty Python is "dry humor" is going to get a smack.

Here are some other types of comedy you may have heard and are just tossing around, willy-nilly.

Farce: Exaggerated comedy. Characters in a farce get themselves in an unlikely or improbable situation that takes a lot of footwork and fast talking to get out of. The play "The Foreigner" is an example of a farce, as are many of the Jeeves &…

What Are They Thinking? The Beloit College Mindset List

Every year at this time, the staff at Beloit College send out their new student Mindset List as a way to make everyone clutch their chest and feel the cold hand of death.

This list was originally created and shared with their faculty each year, so the faculty would understand what some of their own cultural touchstones might mean, or not mean, to the incoming freshmen. They also wanted the freshmen to know it was not cool to refer to '80s music as "Oldies."

This year's incoming Beloit freshmen are typically 18 years old, born in 1999. John F. Kennedy Jr. died that year, as did Stanley Kubrick and Gene Siskel. And so did my hope for a society that sought artistic and intellectual pursuits for the betterment of all humanity. Although it may have actually died when I heard about this year's Emoji Movie.

Before I throw my hands up in despair, here are a few items from the Mindset list for the class of 2021.

They're the last class to be born in the 1900s, and are t…