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Iconic and oft-cited, at a glance, to be sure...
June 28, 2013 3:35 AM   Subscribe

You've seen one university's annual Banished Words list posted here (mostly by me). And then there are Matt Groening's Forbidden Words from his dear departed Life in Hell comic. But do real journalistic entities have similar lists of words to avoid? Well, Journalism Journalist Jim Romenesko has received a list (leaked?) from the editor of the Washington Post Outlook section of Things We Do Not Say. And yes, it's growing.
posted by oneswellfoop (75 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Things We Do Not Say.

"Ironic Capitalizations Implying Unimportance Of Things Others Consider Important"

The Irony of It All.
posted by three blind mice at 3:53 AM on June 28, 2013


Things we do not say, ever.

1. I was feeling a little burfnorgwyguguguguguguguguguguguwheekludvoropish.
2. And may I present my teenage daughter, your Majesty; her name is Fluffenturd Poo-twanger.
3. Mmmmm, gangrene!
4. Patrick O'Xzygdyxyyqqqnjpmxzsxxz sent me.
5. Actually I voted #1 quidnunc kid, but Rudd won, the fucking shgggggdddbbvvvkwqob.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:58 AM on June 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


I love these, and should probably have one.
posted by a halcyon day at 3:59 AM on June 28, 2013


I wish someone could do something about the truly annoying overuse of "In terms of..." that seems to have occurred in the UK over the last couple of years. You can't turn the damned radio on without hearing someone banging on with "In terms of this, in terms of that, in terms of my terrible sentences..."

It's funny how certain words and phrases seem to become fashionable to the extent that people use them almost as if they were verbal tics. I wonder how it happens. Some sort of memetic business, I suppose.
posted by Decani at 4:04 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


This really shines a spotlight on the fact that there is no silver bullet, going foward, that will prevent this hastily convened , tightly knit community from doubling down with a predawn raid of absurd comments using these phrases. To be sure.
posted by HuronBob at 4:04 AM on June 28, 2013 [20 favorites]


"Going forward..." GAAAAAAH! Curse you, HuronBob!
posted by Decani at 4:07 AM on June 28, 2013


It's a good list.
posted by Mocata at 4:09 AM on June 28, 2013


"to the extent that people use them almost as if they were verbal tics."

We are no longer the Knights who say "to the extent". We are now the Knights who say 'Ecky-ecky-ecky-ecky-pikang-zoop-boing-goodem-zu-owly-zhiv'.
posted by three blind mice at 4:11 AM on June 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


So... racial slurs are still given the go ahead since they are not on the list?
posted by Renoroc at 4:18 AM on June 28, 2013


1. The list makes me twitchy. Mainly because I would not be able to write a single paragraph of a term paper without breaking a rule at least four times.

2. The fuck is TK?

3. No "Brangelina" or "ScarJo" type constructions on the list? Because those make me want to slap the shit out of somebody.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:26 AM on June 28, 2013


I see the Post has killed the manicured lawns, but apparently still allows gritty neighborhoods.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:26 AM on June 28, 2013


"Absolutely!" seems to be a favourite amongst Radio 4 interviewees.
posted by lawrencium at 4:28 AM on June 28, 2013


TK is a journalism placeholder. You can read it as "foo" if that helps.
posted by 256 at 4:30 AM on June 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Iconic" is permissable, but only if referring to the work of Andrei Rublev.

True names are things we do not say for reasons of defence against the dark arts. Hence our clever psudonyms. We most certainly do not say the names of elder gods. They cannot be held back with a charm offensive.

(there I said it)
(fevered speculation, shifting dynamics, situation is fluid, dizzying array, paradigm shift...)
(TK is not alone)
(the Other)
(the Other)
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:33 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh wait, sorry, TK actually stands for "Toby Keith."
posted by 256 at 4:35 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


My favourite/eye-rolliest so far this year is 'self-radicalized'.
posted by Flashman at 4:40 AM on June 28, 2013


There is one for Empire Magazine, which I saw tweeted a while ago.
posted by mippy at 4:43 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


so rarely used properly that not worth it

Story of my life.
posted by Segundus at 4:46 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Begs the question (unless used properly – and so rarely used properly that not worth it)

Hooray!

Ever since I embarassed myself as a naive freshman in an Introduction to Logic class I have made it my duty--no, my quest--to pedanticlly correct everyone so that they might never suffer the same debilitating humiliation.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:47 AM on June 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Things We Do Not Say.

This demands the Kenosha Kid treatment.

Things, we do not say.

Things we do, not say.

Things we do not, say.

Things: we, do, not, say.

u.s.w.
posted by chavenet at 4:50 AM on June 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


A Metafilter list would be interesting. I submit :

"This." (As an endorsement.)
posted by noway at 4:51 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


"This." (As an endorsement.)

Word.
posted by HuronBob at 4:54 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


What TK said.
posted by taz at 4:56 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think journalists should be fired for using "perfect storm" or poltergeist reference "they're here".
posted by shothotbot at 5:02 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Begs the question...Ever since I embarassed myself as a naive freshman in an Introduction to Logic class I have made it my duty--no, my quest--to pedanticlly correct everyone so that they might never suffer the same debilitating humiliation.

I agree that misuse of the phrase can be annoying, but going on a pedant crusade over it is likely to be more embarrasing to both you and your interlocutor than anything on these lists.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:08 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, this is kind of funny because just yesterday I started my own (sort of desultory) personal list of words that, if I come across them in a review or cover blurb for a book, mean that I will almost certainly make it a point to ignore that book.

So far my list is: madcap, raucaus, rollicking, galore (the list is young yet! Like 20-hours-young)
posted by taz at 5:13 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


TK would appear to mean "to come".
posted by dumbland at 5:16 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now if the goddamn Post could actually start worrying about journalism and simple editing and quit worrying about style we'd have a real paper around these parts again!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:21 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Plus it up. (Granted I only heard that once, but that was at least one time too many.)

In today's eonomy...

In the post 9-11 world...
posted by Foosnark at 5:24 AM on June 28, 2013


I am increasingly annoyed by the use of "impeccably curated" to describe soundtracks, compilations, and product lines. It's always that exact pair of words.
posted by kewb at 5:24 AM on June 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Actually the use of TK is about leaving placeholders in your text that can be easily found using the find feature in a word processor, because T and K rarely appear together in that order in English and virtually never do in all caps. My book manuscript is swimming in TK.
posted by sonascope at 5:49 AM on June 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


I agree that misuse of the phrase can be annoying, but going on a pedant crusade over it is likely to be more embarrasing to both you and your interlocutor than anything on these lists.

As someone who constantly has to explain to people that 'unique' has a very specific meaning that is not the same as 'unusual' or 'special' - I still agree with this.
posted by mippy at 5:50 AM on June 28, 2013


"But a TK1 does not a TK2 make" is a horrible affectation of journalists, at least on the local news, that makes me reconsider my stand against torture.
posted by cardboard at 5:51 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yep, long-time editor here, TK is "to come". Why "K"? Because in handwritten edits, a "c" can be hastily scrawled and confused with an "o".

Also, I would like the *crickets* thing to go away. A lot.
posted by thinkpiece at 5:52 AM on June 28, 2013


The list is orthogonally synergistic, shovel-ready claptrap, and clearly has insufficiently re-appropriated the current vogue for corporate neoteny found by verbing nouns ("nerbing") and nouning verbs ("wounding").

"What's the Ask?" they say.
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:52 AM on June 28, 2013


Sonascope: That is an excellent feature of TK, but it actually predates word processors substantially. I'm pretty sure that the original reason for TK rather than TC was, as thinkpiece says, to avoid confusion with TO.
posted by 256 at 5:54 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is another version of this post to be written, surely, in fashion/beauty/fashblog speak:

a pop of
a red lip (and other singulars where a pair should go)
on-trend
haul/hauling
it's darling
drops today/hits stores today
channelling (usually in reference to Holly Golightly/Jackie O/other 'icons' that don't shop in Primark)
icon/iconic
Toppers (instead of Topshop - urgh)
the boy/the manshape/the mister
ditsy
posted by mippy at 5:55 AM on June 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


In these … economic times
Genre-defying
from his/her/their catalogue
Defining work
Seeks to / seems to (verb)


are some of my personal demons.
posted by a halcyon day at 6:00 AM on June 28, 2013


HuronBob, noway, would you rather we say "Indeed" when we mean to briefly agree?
posted by a halcyon day at 6:02 AM on June 28, 2013


The Guardian Style Guide is a laugh, as it contains entries like:
beleaguered: overused, even when we spell it correctly
I am increasingly annoyed by the use of "impeccably curated" to describe soundtracks, compilations, and product lines. It's always that exact pair of words.

I've had it with 'curated' anything, really, at least if it's not a museum exhibit.
posted by hoyland at 6:08 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, they have "double down" on there. I've been wondering about that -- I notice it all the time now, but I don't know if it's me or if the American people are actually doubling down a lot more as a society.

The Ngram Viewer says that "double down" first took off around 1970, and really exploded between 1992 and 2002. But then it declined after 2002.

So maybe I'm wrong? But the Ngram Viewer only goes through 2008. Let's check search query frequency ...

Aha! "Double down" took off again in 2009 with, of course, the KFC sandwich. But then in 2011, instead of fried chicken the headlines start referring to House Republicans, Europe, Obama, Zuckerberg, etc.

So my new theory is: by putting "double down" in ads and headlines, KFC inadvertently kicked off a new trend in macho glamorization of political contests. Sweet.
posted by jhc at 6:13 AM on June 28, 2013


"Concerning" as a participle.

Like I know what a participle is.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 6:14 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's funny how certain words and phrases seem to become fashionable to the extent that people use them almost as if they were verbal tics.

If they're used mostly by pundits on the radio then they probably are verbal tics. In writing, good grammar and vocabulary is important because you're committing yourself to those words and you don't want to be misunderstood. I would hope that people are cut a little more slack when they are speaking off-the-cuff, recorded or otherwise.

And, while I'm at it, 'a lot' rather than 'alot'.

Obligatory: Alot is better than you at everything.
posted by dumdidumdum at 6:18 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is a set of words used by snaky business-people to say as little as possible with as many words as they can. It distracts listeners from the sociopathy of the underlying logic.
  1. Of course we're laying off people! We have to improve the bottom line because we're being sold! Who cares if it damages the company in the long run? I'll be gone before then!
  2. Going forward, in order to evolve our team toward agility, and pivot to meet future market demands in a fluid environment, we have to double down on process efficiency.
Which sounds less like "I am going to fire Mabel, the secretary who's been here 30 years, is one year from retirement, and who makes less than a twentieth of my bloated salary?"
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:26 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm something of a linguistic pedant myself but I actually don't see a problem with the "misuse" of "begs the question" because those words, put together in that way, are perfectly appropriate to accurately describe the intended meaning. So yes, there is a logical fallacy called "begging the question", but there is also a situation in which something prompts a querying response; that is, it begs for a question to be asked.
posted by Decani at 6:28 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


My solution to "begs the question" is a reversion to "begets the question." "Begs" is a terrible way to shorten "begets."
posted by kewb at 6:34 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


People who say "going forward" are asking to be hit. Is there another choice? Can we implement new policies retroactively? Can we dump our changes on a specific point in the space-time continuum? No? So there's no other choice but to obey the law that time moves forward, right? In which case you don't actually have to say this, you're just filling space. It's in the same category as "as I get older." As opposed to what??
posted by 1adam12 at 6:43 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


This list makes me happy. Actually, the list itself fills me with irritation; but knowing that it exists and is used as a list of expressions to be avoided- that makes me happy.
posted by windykites at 6:47 AM on June 28, 2013


...a tour de force...
posted by aintthattheway at 6:47 AM on June 28, 2013


Our civilization is decadent and our language -- so the argument runs -- must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.
- George Orwell, Politics and the English Language, 1946
posted by General Tonic at 6:49 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I TOO HAVE HAD IT UP TO HERE WITH "CURATED"! THANK GOODNESS I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE!!

"curated" and "hipster" are two words I could happily avoid hearing for, say, ten years or so. At minimum.
posted by windykites at 6:50 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


How often have we heard "MetaFilter is no panacea" (nothing is)?
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:54 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


How often have we heard "MetaFilter is no panacea" (nothing is)?

Mea culpa.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:14 AM on June 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


I had a supervisor who delighted in using "things of that nature" at least three times a day. Annoyed me in a special, under-the-skin kind of way.

That said, this list makes me nervous about words and phrases I must misuse or abuse or irritate people with constantly. (That said?)
posted by aintthattheway at 7:14 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


God, I hate "curated." Look, I curated my M&Ms by removing the brown ones!

I also hate the word "maker." I am a maker approximately 24 hours after eating my curated M&Ms.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:15 AM on June 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh, god, curated. Die. Die by the very weapons you adore.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:16 AM on June 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


As someone who spends a good deal of time every day writing headlines and copy-editing stories for reporters, this list makes me very happy - knowing that I am not alone in my quest to banish certain phrases and words!

"Tapped" (Smith tapped as next CEO, etc) makes me want to punch kittens, and "probe" makes me want to...well, whatever is worse than punching kittens.

I think what irritates me more than anything, however, is the use of "to" instead of "will" in headlines. For example:

- Student loan rates to double as lawmakers continue bickering
- Obama to lay out three-part plan for addressing climate change
- Colorado massacre suspect James Holmes to be restrained during trial
- Temperatures to hit 120 this weekend

People, this is the web - not a dead-tree newspaper; we have unlimited space, and do not have to worry about shaving two letters off of a headline to make it fit.
posted by davidmsc at 7:21 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


_______ is a love letter to _________
posted by Gev at 7:25 AM on June 28, 2013


Oh, can we do business vernacular list, too? "The net-net" and "Extra for Experts" make me want to kick babies (I think that's worse than punching kittens?).
posted by KGMoney at 7:38 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


FULL STOP.
posted by foot at 8:05 AM on June 28, 2013


I'm something of a linguistic pedant myself but I actually don't see a problem with the "misuse" of "begs the question" because those words, put together in that way, are perfectly appropriate to accurately describe the intended meaning.

It may be appropriate, but the problem comes in when the reader encounters the phrase and starts focusing on whether the phrase is being used correctly or incorrectly instead of the content of the article. And especially in journalism you want the reader to be focused on the content of your writing, not the style. See also the word "niggardly."
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 8:08 AM on June 28, 2013


When 'curated' leaves the building, it can take 'obsessed' (as in 'This week I'm obsessed with the new Clinique eyeshadow trio!') with it.

And not let the door hit its ass on the way out.
posted by Salamander at 8:19 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


"probe" makes me want to...well, whatever is worse than punching kittens.

Probing kittens, I think.
posted by fredludd at 8:28 AM on June 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


It always annoys me that 'regret' has a fixed, legal definition which allows it to be mockingly deployed with almost complete indemnity. We all know that expressing regret has become a tacit apology for doing wrong, so why can't the law get with the program?
posted by RonButNotStupid at 8:43 AM on June 28, 2013


Things we do not say They are tryng to ban litotes in toto?

Good news for Luigi Vercotti. I once tried to go forward at the end of the day and it literally shifted my paradigm into the middle of the previous week. I found that I had so much on my plate that I was unable to leverage my core compentencies to problem-solve my way out of the crisis.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:57 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


So glad to see that the authorities have it in for "call it *foo*". I can't read this without innerly howling "I will NOT call it *foo*, asshole! Who the hell are you to tell me what to call things?" ...and other such utterances of impotent rage that I'd rather not have to suffer through any longer.
posted by ariel_caliban at 9:19 AM on June 28, 2013


When I worked at The Daily Texan in college, the photography department had a similar blacklist — i.e., Types of Photos We Do Not Take. Because campus news can often be dry (the regents met again to talk about a thing), often they'd be tasked with "wild art" — what newspapers call a photo that is not associated with a story — and it's easy to fall into cliches when you're wandering around campus looking for something interesting.

The only item I can remember from the list: "shots of anything reflected through bus windows."
posted by savetheclocktower at 9:22 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love this list of Americanisms to avoid from The Economist. One good bit:
In an American context you may run for office (but please stand in countries with parliamentary systems) and your car may sometimes run on gasoline instead of petrol. But if you use corn in the American sense you should explain that this is maize to most people (unless it is an old chestnut). Trains run from railway stations, not train stations. The people in them, and on buses, are passengers, not riders. Cars are hired, not rented. City centres are not central cities. For most people football is a game—you do not have to call it a sport—that Americans call soccer. London is the country's capital, not the nation's. If you wish to build a nation, you will bind its peoples together; if you wish to build a state, you will forge its institutions. Ex-servicemen are not necessarily veterans. In Britain, though cattle and pigs may be raised, children are (or should be) brought up. That will involve having them at school, not in it. When they fall ill, they may be in hospital (not in the hospital, still less hospitalised).
posted by Space Coyote at 9:40 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


FULL STOP.

'Full stop' is perfectly cromulent in British English - it's been used for emphasis for at least as long as I've been alive. But I imagine when used by US writers, it jars in much the same way people saying 'period', 'hella', 'neighborhood' (Yelp does this - London does not have 'neighborhoods' in the way US cities do) or 'soda' might do here. (I had an ex who would refer to The Beat as 'The English Beat', something which nobody on this side of the Atlantic has ever done, and it managed to make him sound both pretentious and inaccurate.)

I also once sat next to someone on a train who was reading a business e-mail. I paraphrase:

"I have met with Company to discuss the matters arising from our project going forward.

Most tangible:"

MOST TANGIBLE?!?!?!
posted by mippy at 9:54 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


As someone who's been editing album reviews for years, I'm pleased to report that phrases like "Band Z sounds like Band X and Band Y in a blender ... on acid!" aren't as common as they used to be. Or maybe I'm just not working with as many newbies.

But if I could remove one interjection from the English language right now, it'd be "BOOM." I almost don't want to go to a great local smoothie place these days because they have a new sign out front: "Now we're open at 7 a.m.! BOOM." KILL IT WITH DEATH.
posted by lisa g at 10:44 AM on June 28, 2013


I am become Iconic, Destroyer of Core Competencies.

(Apologies to Robert Oppenheim and the Bhagavad Gita.)
posted by rdone at 12:40 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I once tried to go forward at the end of the day and it literally shifted my paradigm into the middle of the previous week. I found that I had so much on my plate that I was unable to leverage my core compentencies to problem-solve my way out of the crisis.

Augh! I can't believe I left out including but not limited to.

MOST TANGIBLE?!?!?!

A very unique formulation, eh?
 
posted by Herodios at 4:11 PM on June 28, 2013


Hmm. I did not know about the origin of TK—was told that it was about the search-and-replace, and it works so brilliantly in that regard that I'd just assumed that it was a computer age thing. Neat.
posted by sonascope at 11:01 PM on June 28, 2013


I'm almost unable to restrain myself from punching walls when I hear/read "that being said" or any variation thereof. It gives me the rage shakes.
posted by _Mona_ at 11:54 AM on June 29, 2013


But if I could remove one interjection from the English language right now, it'd be "BOOM."

HEADSHOT
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:18 PM on June 29, 2013


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