LSSU's Baniched Words 2003
January 1, 2003 1:17 PM   Subscribe

'Make no mistakes about it', Lake Superior State University issued its 28th annual 'extreme' List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness, which the world needs 'now, more than ever'.
posted by LinusMines (54 comments total)

 
I would like to nominate the use of question marks instead of quote marks for this list. They aren't words, but they're certainly over-used and unhelpful...
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:23 PM on January 1, 2003


Posted in an UNDISCLOSED, SECRET LOCATION.
posted by Wet Spot at 1:27 PM on January 1, 2003


No mistake about it, weapons of mass destruction on the ground, as per a material breech, is now more then ever an extreme threat to homeland security. Having said that, we challenge the international community to cease the reverse discrimination and enforce the UN resolutions.

Does this mean we get to banish Ari Fliescher too?
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:28 PM on January 1, 2003


well, it was a different list last year, Wet Spot..
posted by Vidiot at 1:38 PM on January 1, 2003


Color me amazed that "Its all about ____" isn't on the list.

Also, "Color me <something that isn't a color>."
posted by duckstab at 1:43 PM on January 1, 2003


I'd like to nominate "Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada."
posted by Succa at 1:57 PM on January 1, 2003


...the use of question marks instead of quote marks...

Question marks?
posted by SteveL669 at 2:09 PM on January 1, 2003


Can we also ban modifiers on "unique?" "Totally unique," "relatively unique," "fairly unique," and all the rest. Unique is a binary state -- either something is unique, or it isn't. Now, more than ever, modifiers on unique have to go!
posted by rusty at 2:10 PM on January 1, 2003


This sort of thing shows you what takes place when you have been banished to the hinterlands either for a teaching post or as a student.
posted by Postroad at 2:15 PM on January 1, 2003


My nomination is "hope against hope", even if it does come up in a Flaming Lips song.
posted by Devils Slide at 2:20 PM on January 1, 2003


I'd like to nominate saying 'literally' when obviously meaning 'figuratively'. My, that's annoying.
posted by Hjorth at 2:21 PM on January 1, 2003


Well said.
Your point is well taken.
You can address comments to myself.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:26 PM on January 1, 2003


Ending sentences with three little dots. Only Neville Shute can get away with that.
posted by emf at 2:30 PM on January 1, 2003


It seems like 'material breach' got jumped to the front of the line pretty quickly. It is annoying, but hasn't it only been everywhere for the last couple of months now?

I would have to agree with "make no mistake" and it's equally wonky Ari-ism "let there be no mistake," though.
posted by Gilbert at 2:33 PM on January 1, 2003


How about the word 'and' or 'is'? The letter 's'?
'S' is the most used, so let's 'banish' it.

At least we now know what University faculty are doing between re-readings of Marx.
posted by hama7 at 3:21 PM on January 1, 2003


The letter 's'? 'S' is the most used, so let's 'banish' it.

I almost baniched it from my post title, unfortunately. ^^;
posted by LinusMines at 3:41 PM on January 1, 2003


I'd like to nominate saying 'literally' when obviously meaning 'figuratively'.

Lily, the caretaker's daughter, was literally run off her feet.

*returns to re-reading the 1844 manuscripts ...*
posted by octobersurprise at 3:42 PM on January 1, 2003


But I'd vote the phrase "Homeland Security" off the island in a heartbeat. Whatever happened to "Civil Defense"?
posted by octobersurprise at 3:52 PM on January 1, 2003


While we're in a banning mood, how about axing 'i, for one, welcome our _____ overlords' and 'this _____, it vibrates'?
posted by turbodog at 4:10 PM on January 1, 2003


"Very pregnant" and "He can really play the guitar" get on my nerves.
posted by sharksandwich at 4:37 PM on January 1, 2003


Michelle has created a very short story incorporating all of the banished words/phrases.
posted by davidmsc at 5:03 PM on January 1, 2003


huh, am i the only one tired of linguistic imperialism?

wait, hang up, i forgot where i was posting.
posted by kjh at 5:36 PM on January 1, 2003


OK, how about this one, common to meetings everywhere: PIGGYBACKING. Please God, (although the spirit of this word is admirably communatarian) make it stop.
posted by kozad at 5:55 PM on January 1, 2003


I would be more interested in the linguistic pronunciamenti of LSSU if the website wasn't full of grammatical and syntactical errors of its own.

They seem, for example, to be unaware of what the word "blase' " means (and, yes, I know that the diacritic came out wrong, but I'm using my husband's damned computer).

They also coined the phrase "world-worn" (which they seem to believe means something like "sophisticated" or "well-traveled") to describe international diplomats.

And what's with all the " -speak," anyway? "Hip-speak?" "Lawyer-speak?"

Fucktards. Lord, preserve me from the half-smart; I prefer the honestly stupid any day.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:48 PM on January 1, 2003


How about "grow" in a transitive sense? "Grow the economy" ALWAYS gets on my nerves.

And "nauseous" when "nauseated" is meant.
posted by Vidiot at 7:56 PM on January 1, 2003


I disagree with some of these. 'Untimely death'. Can there be a timely death, they ask? Sure. The death of the Shah of Iran was pretty timely, geopolitically speaking. The death of a man in his 80's, having lived a full life and accomplished much, is timely. Milton's death was timely. Keats' was not.

'Weapons of mass destruction' is shorthand for 'chemical, biological and nuclear weapons'. Why is one less acceptable than the other?

'Homeland Security' is different from 'national defense'. It's even different from 'civil defense', in that it attempts to protect people from attacks carried out on their own soil (rather than from warheads raining down from thousands of miles away), and to anticipate and prevent those attacks. Many people seem not to like the name 'homeland', but whatever term you prefer, the phrase does have a unique meaning.

'Branding': "Can’t we just say ‘Promotions and PR?’" -- Nancy Hicks, Fairfax, Virginia. Sure, Nancy, why not use two words and an acronym when we could have used one?

'Peel-and-eat-shrimp' are different from shrimp that come already peeled. What's wrong with this phrase?

And where is pracowity when we need him?

On preview: Vidiot, I agree about 'nauseous', but I think that particular battle has been lost.

Question: are all linguistic battles ultimately lost? Has the tide ever been turned back on usages that the grammaterati find stupid? By the time 'wrong' usages reach our attention, are they already too widespread in the population to stop?

Sometime dumb words die out on their own (example: 'enthuse'), but I suspect it's not possible to kill them deliberately.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 8:15 PM on January 1, 2003


Thanks, Slithy_Tove. I'll persist, though, in mentally agreeing with someone whenever they say "I'm nauseous." ("Yes, you are" is what I'd love to reply.)

I've all but given up on "fillet" vs. "filet." Seeing "filet of sole" on a menu makes me tsk-tsk subvocally.

And I prefer pronouncing "sorbet" as "sor-bet", not "sor-bay." (See Barbara Wallraff's great column on this. (Scroll down))

I think it all comes down to a philosophical difference -- do you want a dictionary to prescribe how the language should be used, or to depict how it is used?

Also: This is what comes of growing up with a newspaper journalist for a mother. Usage discussions at the dinner table breed future Grammar Nazis.
posted by Vidiot at 9:44 PM on January 1, 2003


How about "jumped the shark"?
posted by McBain at 10:11 PM on January 1, 2003


And I prefer pronouncing "sorbet" as "sor-bet", not "sor-bay."

I still have a hard time pronouncing 'coupe' as 'coup', and not 'cou-pay', and that battle was lost in the 1930's.

Also: This is what comes of growing up with a newspaper journalist for a mother. Usage discussions at the dinner table breed future Grammar Nazis.

Heh. I grew up with a newspaper journalist for a father. It's funny, my parents were New Deal/Adlai Stevenson liberals, and tolerant to a fault on most social issues, as you might expect. Except on issues of English usage, on which they were rigidly conservative.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 10:22 PM on January 1, 2003


How about using transition as a verb? Why, oh why, do people do that? Or is that another lost battle? And seeing wetspot's post reminds me how much I miss rodii. Sigh.
posted by Lynsey at 11:38 PM on January 1, 2003


Vidiot, "filet" and "fillet" are interchangeable and have been since the middle of the nineteenth century. If "filet" is good enough for Thackeray, God damn it, it should be good enough for your local eatery.

But don't take my word for it--check your own OED.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:44 PM on January 1, 2003


How about the word 'and' or 'is'? The letter 's'?
'S' is the most used, so let's 'banish' it.

At least we now know what University faculty are doing between re-readings of Marx.


Ah c'mon, lighten up, misery-guts!

'Homeland Security' is different from 'national defense'. It's even different from 'civil defense'

Yeah, but it's not as much fun as 'civil defense', which I like to think of as national security in the form of gap-toothed rogues in smoking jackets, jabbing baddies with poison-tipped umbrellas while adjusting their monocles.
posted by backOfYourMind at 2:28 AM on January 2, 2003


'Peel-and-eat-shrimp' are different from shrimp that come already peeled. What's wrong with this phrase?

What's wrong is that shrimp are naturally ready to peel and eat. So I'd like to nominate a phrase for next year's list: pre-peeled or already peeled shrimp. Or to be really annoying: ready-peeled shrimp.

Although some tiny ones need no peeling at all: called crevette gris in France.
posted by Dick Paris at 3:00 AM on January 2, 2003


Good point. I think grammar/usage is just about the one area in my life where I'm a hard-core conservative.
posted by Vidiot at 4:50 AM on January 2, 2003


"filet" and "fillet" are interchangeable and have been since the middle of the nineteenth century. . .But don't take my word for it--check your own OED.

Thanks, Sidhedevil. Didn't realize Thackeray used "filet." I was chalking it up to people thinking that French spelling and pronunciation is more sophisticated somehow.

I keep meaning to get a copy of/subscription to the OED, since it's just so cool. But my battered Webster's Collegiate is always close at hand, and lists "filet" as a variant spelling and pronunciation of "fillet." (I'd link to the page, but Merriam-Webster's URLs don't change. Any way around this?)
posted by Vidiot at 5:16 AM on January 2, 2003


'Peel-and-eat-shrimp' are different from shrimp that come already peeled. What's wrong with this phrase?

The problem with the phrase is not "peel-", but "-and-eat" . As stated in the article, "Do they think that, if the name did not contain instructions, we would peel-and-throw-on-floor?"
posted by pardonyou? at 6:44 AM on January 2, 2003


pardonyou? and Dick Paris: 'peel and eat' shrimp are cooked shrimp. That's the reason for the 'and eat' part, and is why they aren't just called 'shrimp', or 'shrimp in shell'. They're shrimp that are ready for eating. They're 'peel and eat' shrimp, not 'peel and cook' shrimp.

I still have no problem with this phrase. I think it's reasonably descriptive, snappy, and economical of words.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 7:01 AM on January 2, 2003


New Year's Resolution #235c: do not become embroiled in flamewars over shrimp nomenclature.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 7:17 AM on January 2, 2003


Have you ever tried to peel an uncooked shrimp?
posted by Pollomacho at 7:22 AM on January 2, 2003


Pollomacho? Yes, of course. Why?
posted by Slithy_Tove at 7:29 AM on January 2, 2003


Wow, you learn something new every day. I was under the impression that you ALWAYS boiled shrimp first, then peeled it, then used it for whatever since it was a little crustacean cousin of the lobster and crawdad.

That said, I thing pardonyou? was on the right track, I'm not too sure they are going to serve you raw shrimp in a restaurant and thus once you've peeled them what else would you do with them, but heck I suppose it's your money...
posted by Pollomacho at 8:09 AM on January 2, 2003


Okay, I give up. At least with respect to restaurant menus.

But I think it would still make sense in a supermarket advertisement or as a label on a tray in the seafood case there.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 8:25 AM on January 2, 2003


'S' is the most used

It's not even in the top six.

How about "grow" in a transitive sense?

Merriam-Webster Collegiate: grow vt 1 : to cause to grow (~ wheat)

Do you want a dictionary to prescribe how the language should be used, or to depict how it is used?

Do you want a biology textbook to prescribe how the human body should work, or to depict how it does work?

Question: are all linguistic battles ultimately lost? Has the tide ever been turned back on usages that the grammaterati find stupid? By the time 'wrong' usages reach our attention, are they already too widespread in the population to stop?

Answers: yes, no, yes.

All of you who get your rocks off complaining about "wrong" usage, carry on, but 1) try to get your facts right and 2) try to remember that it's a personal preference on your part, not a moral crusade.
posted by languagehat at 9:10 AM on January 2, 2003


Dick Paris: 'peel and eat' shrimp are cooked shrimp.

Sorry, I did not mean to imply that the aforementioned shrimp were not already cooked. Reviewing my post I can see that this was unclear.
posted by Dick Paris at 9:15 AM on January 2, 2003


My personal bugaboo: impact is noun, to be used only when discussing meteors and other projectiles. It is not to be confused with the noun effect and most especially not with the verbs effect or affect.

Thank-you.
posted by bonehead at 9:20 AM on January 2, 2003


Learn how to write like a wanker.
posted by Wet Spot at 10:53 AM on January 2, 2003


impact is noun, to be used only when discussing meteors and other projectiles.

I think the dentists are going to have a problem with that, bonehead. Also the dictionary-makers, who have already classified it foremost as a verb, since it is derived from a Latin word which was also a verb.
posted by kindall at 1:13 PM on January 2, 2003


Now, More Than Ever...
posted by CosmicSlop at 1:53 PM on January 2, 2003


Oops, languagehat. My bad (another phrase I hate) on the "grow" stuff.

Do you want a biology textbook to prescribe how the human body should work, or to depict how it does work?

I see your point. But I think there's some room to quibble with the function of a dictionary; basic biology doesn't change over time (well...evolution happens really slowly, but you know what I mean), while languages can change based on speakers' interpretations and contributions.

I still think it's a philosophical difference. The OED and the Academie Francaise take a very different approach.

(Pre-emptive strike: Besides the fact that they deal with different languages.)
posted by Vidiot at 4:20 PM on January 2, 2003


I think the point with some of these phrases, such as weapons of mass destruction, is that they're blatantly political inventions. The sort of weapons that are described by the phrase WMD have been around for a long time, yet they've only been called WMD for what? Two years? Where did the phrase come from? The US government I believe, in an attempt to separate the weapons 'they' have from the weapons 'we' have.

And now the phrase is in the media and in the popular imagination to the extent that people no longer think about what these WMD actually are, what they do and where they come from. They're just an amorphous bag of evil.
posted by Summer at 3:35 AM on January 3, 2003


agreed, Summer. You never hear about NBC (nuclear/biological/chemical) weapons anymore. It's more specific and doesn't have the kind of subtext that WMD does. I guess they don't want people to think that NBC weapons are ones wielded by Jay Leno and Katie Couric.
posted by Vidiot at 4:57 AM on January 3, 2003


I think the point with some of these phrases, such as weapons of mass destruction, is that they're blatantly political inventions.

Yes, and that's exactly what we should be worrying about and analyzing, not pop-culture catchphrases of the moment and things our fourth-grade teachers convinced us were "ungrammatical."

The OED and the Academie Francaise take a very different approach.

Yes, and that's one reason I'm proud to be a native speaker of English: we have better dictionaries. (Though I don't understand why most foreign-language dictionaries are UK-oriented when the vast majority of English speakers are American.)
posted by languagehat at 9:50 AM on January 3, 2003


What a strange thing for someone so in love with language to profess. Both on the point of pride and the slant of English-other language dictionaries. I've not delved into your website but is not that richness you berate (wrong word since you do it very mildly but no substitute comes to mind) part of the attraction?
posted by Dick Paris at 10:28 AM on January 3, 2003


I don't quite see the strangeness, since love of language is likely to arise from and nourish love of a particular language (or do you know sports fans who don't support a particular team?), and I certainly don't see my comment as berating (even mildly) richness -- I'm all in favor of linguistic richness! OK, my "better dictionaries" remark was a tad over the top (though I was vaguely echoing the famous "We have cameras" comment), but I think the OED is one of the glories of the world, and I am indeed proud that it graces my native language. My final, parenthetical, remark stands without apology; would you think it sensible if all German-Foreign dictionaries rendered words into and out of Bavarian? UK English has a great past but it is now the dialect of a small minority of speakers; that's not an insult, it's the simple truth.
posted by languagehat at 2:27 PM on January 7, 2003


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