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"Thrown Under the Bus" is Thrown Under the Bus. Ouch.
January 1, 2008 11:42 AM   Subscribe

"This year, in a gesture of humanitarian relief, the (Lake Superior State University Banished Words) committee restores "truthiness," banned on last year's list, to formal use. This comes after comedians and late-night hosts were thrown under the bus and rendered speechless by a nationwide professional writers' strike. The silence is deafening."
Of course, "(thrown) under the bus"* is on this year's Banished List, along with "perfect storm", "webinar"*, "waterboarding", "post-9/11", "wordsmith", "back in the day", "surge", "x is the new y", "give back" and other seemingly "random" words and phrases.
*One of the requirements for a Banished Word or Phrase is that it has been used as a title for a Blogspot or Typepad blog.

Yes, we've done this before. Consider it a tradition or a bad habit.
posted by wendell (102 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Does this mean we can smush cream pies into the faces of people using these banished words?
posted by 45moore45 at 11:58 AM on January 1, 2008


Two things:

(1) I didn't realize that Lake Superior was a state, and
(2) boy, there sure are some cranky people that go to school there. Must be on account of all the dampness.
posted by psmealey at 12:05 PM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure that anything short of death is good a good enough punishment for anyone who uses "webinar".
posted by octothorpe at 12:11 PM on January 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


They want to ban the use of the word "waterboarding"? Are they sponsored by the CIA?
posted by goatdog at 12:16 PM on January 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


"I'm tired of health food stores selling products that they say are organic. All the food we eat is organic!" – Chad Jacobson, Park Falls, Wisconsin.

Gong.

"Let's banish 'waterboarding' to the beach, where it belongs with boogie boards and surfboards."

Gong, and WTF?
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 12:16 PM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think wordsmith can be a useful word. It was first introduced to me when I was on a committee to rewrite a university policy and we were getting hung up on some mechanical detail of language. Someone else said, "let's agree on the ideas now, and then a couple of us can do the wordsmithing later." I instantly knew what she meant.
posted by grouse at 12:19 PM on January 1, 2008


Ordinarily, I'm a proponent of banning tired clichés or technical jargon that finds its way into the vernacular, or at the very least, ridiculing people the rely too heavily on or misuse them. But some of these expressions are perfectly useful. "Throwing someone under the bus", for example, does not mean merely to blame him or her. It means to scapegoat someone of lesser authority for a problem that may or may not be his/her fault, usually suddenly, without warning and without an hint of promise that the act may be made up to him or her later. It's a perfectly good and precise expression.
posted by Flem Snopes at 12:25 PM on January 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


I haven't read these links yet, but every time I've heard people wanting to ban the word waterboarding is because it sounds like a recreational activity or something. So they want it banned and replaced with the term "water torture". I don't know about this instance though.
posted by puke & cry at 12:26 PM on January 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Good point, p&c. From now on I am going to refer to it as "water torture, sometimes called 'waterboarding.'"
posted by grouse at 12:27 PM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Interrogationsmithing.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:29 PM on January 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Throwing someone under the water bus.
posted by goatdog at 12:31 PM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you work for EDS, your job may be bestshored to Argentina. If that happened to me, I'd be tempted to throw someone under the bus.
posted by lukemeister at 12:34 PM on January 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I've always preferred "thrown under the train", myself.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:36 PM on January 1, 2008


X is the new Y is all too frequently used in the UK and has been for some years, a satirical magazine, Private Eye, has a regular column which lists new variants. One recent newspaper travel section actually suggsted that Prague is the new Prague as a holiday destination. A few years ago we went through a phase where Thursday was the new Friday, plus there are regular updates on what is the new black.
posted by biffa at 12:38 PM on January 1, 2008


Some of these ("random", "sweet", etc.) are words that the people in their 30s and 40s adopted in their teens and 20s and have passed into the mainstream in the past 15-20 years. So, I suppose this effort represents a passing of the torch to the current younger generation, the same way the previous generation got rid of "groovy" and other hippieisms.

Having said that, the only word I really have a problem with is misuse of the word "literally". I'd rather that word passed from existence than be subjected to hearing "I was literally beside myself" one more fucking time.
posted by Flem Snopes at 12:39 PM on January 1, 2008


Keelhaul in 2008!
posted by acro at 12:43 PM on January 1, 2008


wendell, before I click all these links, I've gotta thank you for directing me to my newest favorite song ever.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:57 PM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


The silence is indeed deafening.
posted by blucevalo at 12:58 PM on January 1, 2008


psmealey: Did you know that Grambling and Northwestern are states too?
posted by Cranberry at 12:59 PM on January 1, 2008


Flem Snopes: I have always wished for pictures of someone who is beside himself.
posted by Cranberry at 1:01 PM on January 1, 2008


So are Alcorn and Ball, apparently.
posted by psmealey at 1:04 PM on January 1, 2008


just beside themselves or literally beside themselves?
posted by 45moore45 at 1:05 PM on January 1, 2008


.
posted by randomination at 1:11 PM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Besides themselves is literally the new truthiness.
posted by grouse at 1:13 PM on January 1, 2008


"Random" is the only overused word on that list that truly annoys me. Especially when used disparagingly to condemn my favorite brand of adult-swim-style absurdist non sequitur humor...Come on, guys, at least come up with some criticism that makes sense.

/pet-peeve

However, I do admit to overuse of AWESOME, so I guess I shouldn't throw stones.
posted by mayfly wake at 1:24 PM on January 1, 2008


"Random" is the only overused word on that list that truly annoys me. Especially when used disparagingly to condemn my favorite brand of adult-swim-style absurdist non sequitur humor...Come on, guys, at least come up with some criticism that makes sense.

How does that not make sense? Doesn't "non sequitur" imply randomness?
posted by Bookhouse at 1:34 PM on January 1, 2008


I was surprised to see condemnations of the misuse of "organic" and "decimate" simply because those words have been misused for a long, long time. I recall firearms authority Jeff Cooper lamenting the misuse of "decimate" in one of his books, written more than 10 years ago. I remember making fun of the hippies selling "organic" tomatoes at the local co-op when I was in high school in the late 1970's.

The term "Black Friday" is interesting to me, as I believe I first heard it only this last Thanksgiving! Perhaps I live under a rock and should get out more, but it must be a quite recent term. I don't find it so bad, as at least it fulfills the primary criterion of being accurate and meaningful.

Thanks Wendell, I hope you keep this post tradition alive.
posted by Tube at 1:41 PM on January 1, 2008


How does that not make sense? Doesn't "non sequitur" imply randomness?

I have always interpreted random as more of a probability thing...I guess if you want to say that an absurd out-of-context joke is completely by chance, fair enough.

Now that I look at the dictionary definition, #1 is "Having no specific pattern, purpose, or objective" so I'll give you this one.

It's still overused though. Hang out with a pack of high-schoolers for awhile and you'll see what I mean.
posted by mayfly wake at 1:48 PM on January 1, 2008


That's random.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:52 PM on January 1, 2008


Cranky grumps. Shouldn't someone have realised, before they posted this, that t-shirts are made out of cotton, which is, in fact, a crop, which can be grown organically or non-organically? (Chemists: I do not want to hear about your technical definitions.) Is it really that much of a leap for people to associate sweet with positive things? Is the stock market crash from nearly 80 years ago the only event that we can associate a day of the week and the colour black with? Get-of-my-lawn-ism at its worst.
posted by ssg at 1:54 PM on January 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


This post is what it is.
posted by curlyelk at 2:03 PM on January 1, 2008


Holy hell - when I first loaded that "Back in the Day' link, I thought I was meant to dial in the year I thought of when I thought of "back in the day" -- so I dialed in 1995, and was told I was too young.

So then I actually read the instructions, and put in my birth year - 1979. And the range I got back was 94-96! It works!
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:04 PM on January 1, 2008


I'd rather see a ban on bad spelling, with which the Internet is rife.

My all-time most-hated is "definately".

How the Hell do you not learn to spell definitely correctly?

Do these same people spell "finite" as "finate"?
posted by bwg at 2:09 PM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well how about lose and loose? Why do people think lose is spelled loose? That is the one that bugs me.

Oh, and actually. Actually, that is awesome and I mean that literally.
posted by 45moore45 at 2:19 PM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


They're the same people that spell "ridiculous" as "rediculus" or "redickulas."

I'm going to have a webinar on the correct spelling of "ridiculous" called "rediculous is the new definately."
posted by wigu at 2:20 PM on January 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


Anyone who calls him/herself a "wordsmith" is automatically not an actual writer to me.

I wish they would ban "going forward" also.
posted by Camofrog at 2:23 PM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


The word "lose" kind of looks like it should be pronounced with a long "o," like "hose."

Obviously it isn't, and no one really thinks it is, but maybe the confusion is enough to prompt some people to double up the "o."
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 2:24 PM on January 1, 2008


What I'd really like to see excised from all American newspapers is "kicked off" as a stand in for "started" -- seems like every fund raising drive, every city council meeting, every middle school after school program and so on "kicks off" in the lede. There's other, better synonyms -- let's give this one back to sports writers covering football games, please.

"on the ground" has worn through my patience as well. boots on the ground, facts on the ground, situation on the ground, developments on the ground -- really now, they're spending three words and eleven letters to say "here" or "there" -- usually someplace where things are going to shit in a hurry.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:24 PM on January 1, 2008


And "sustainable." WTF does that even mean?
posted by Camofrog at 2:25 PM on January 1, 2008


I have never heard "on the ground" as a saying. Maybe these things are very regional. I'll trade you "on the ground" for "the whole nine yards". Grrrrr.
posted by 45moore45 at 2:28 PM on January 1, 2008


moore - catch some U.S. news about Pakistan, Iraq or Afghanistan -- I promise you something will be "on the ground" within the first two cuts to correspondents.

"nine yards" has to go as well, no doubt.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:31 PM on January 1, 2008


And "sustainable." WTF does that even mean?

Means you can keep doing it forever. As opposed to things you can only do for a limited amount of time. Like burning fossil fuels, for example.
posted by delmoi at 2:32 PM on January 1, 2008


Personally, the word webinar elicits the same fight-or-flight response as candiru.
posted by LinusMines at 2:34 PM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


"On the ground" should ideally say a lot more than "here" or "there," though. It's intended to contrast the situation as its actually unfolding with the situation as envision in the theories of the ivory tower eggheads.

An activity is "sustainable" if it could be continued indefinitely because engaging in it does not deplete or otherwise impair our ability to engage in it.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 2:34 PM on January 1, 2008


An activity is "sustainable" if it could be continued indefinitely because engaging in it does not deplete or otherwise impair our ability to engage in it.

What I meant was, what does it mean now that everything is marketed as "sustainable"? Until we get all our energy from the sun/wind and recycling works perfectly, nothing is actually "sustainable." It's as bad as "organic."
posted by Camofrog at 2:38 PM on January 1, 2008


Has to do with your ability to keep it up, Camofrog--as in "flagpole enabled and sustainable".

My peeves: "Infrastructure", which is not only overused, but half the time pronounced "infastructure".

And the double "is" that one hears so much--"The problem is is that..."
Where the hell did that come from, and why did it stick around so long?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:40 PM on January 1, 2008


"Silo thinking" needs to be thrown under the bus.
posted by hangashore at 2:51 PM on January 1, 2008


Sweet! I see this list every year, and usually it makes me feel like giving back a little by waterboarding whoever's responsible, then throwing them under the bus in retribution for such irresponsible misunderstanding of language. Back in the day, there was always one or more words supposed to be banished that were perfectly good. Each list needed to be decimated, at least. But this year, perhaps as the result of some kind of perfect storm of organic growth in their wordsmithing talent, they are completely right about everything. How very random.
posted by sfenders at 2:55 PM on January 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


What I meant was, what does it mean now that everything is marketed as "sustainable"?

It's makes somewhat more sense if the sentence starts "What the problem is." For example, "what the problem is is a lack of vision," since "what the problem is a lack of vision" doesn't make any sense.

"The problem is a lack of vision" is certainly preferable, but if a speaker starts a sentence "what the problem is," he's kind of stuck. It's either double the "is," backtrack, or make no sense.

I have no idea how it crept into writing.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 2:56 PM on January 1, 2008


Yes! "On the ground" ranks up there with "at the end of the day" as the cliches most overused in televised news, especially by correspondents and interviewees. "Going forward" is getting up there, too.
posted by good in a vacuum at 3:00 PM on January 1, 2008


Submit your suggestions for next year's list here. I think we MeFites can get a campaign against "on the ground" off the ground.
posted by wendell at 3:09 PM on January 1, 2008


If you take stock in the concepts of quantum physics, everything is random!

"You didn't just turn into a fish. How random!" "The protons that make up your body and the rest of our universe didn't suddenly decay. How random!"
posted by potch at 3:15 PM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]



How does that not make sense? Doesn't "non sequitur" imply randomness?


Well, non-sequiturs really are not random, they simply must be different from whatever line of thought preceded it. Plus, non-sequiturs can be intentional, like me making sure to interrupt the 5th line down from this one with something wholly unrelated.

Now, here's a question, how many non-sequiturs emitted in sequence does it take for the multiplicity to be considered a single non-sequitur which is internally consistent in its inconsistency. I mean, if all I'm doing is spewing a bunch of unconnected thoughts then aren't they connected by a common theme?

Does there need to be some sort of truly random distribution of thought for multiple non-sequiturs? At what point is it a pattern? Is there an answer in statistics?
posted by sp160n at 3:23 PM on January 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Perfect storm" has been on my list for a while. If you write for a living you should have the self respect to not use this phrase. And I don't care who I have to water torture to get rid of "They're here/They're back."
posted by shothotbot at 3:24 PM on January 1, 2008



THIS THREAD IS FULL OF WIN!!

( just needed to get that off my chest after i stopped laughing )
posted by liza at 3:40 PM on January 1, 2008


There's nothing wrong with using "organic" the way it's been used. There's plenty of room under the word's several definitions for everyone to be happy. Unless, of course, you have another simple word or phrase for "of, relating to, yielding, or involving the use of food produced with the use of feed or fertilizer of plant or animal origin without employment of chemically formulated fertilizers, growth stimulants, antibiotics, or pesticides." You can't just pick one definition and claim that's the only acceptable one.
posted by goatdog at 3:42 PM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm glad to see 'waterboarding' go, so we can get back to calling torture torture.
posted by mullingitover at 3:44 PM on January 1, 2008


Organic wordfarmers are better for the language environment.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:55 PM on January 1, 2008


Organic wordfarmers are better for the language environment.

Well, they certainly spread a lot of fertilizer.
posted by ColdChef at 4:03 PM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I endorse the immediate banishment of "organic" (which has annoyed me for many years), "wordsmith" (except when used sarcastically; e.g., "wordsmith Dan Brown"), "post-9/11," "webinar," and "x is the new y," but must appeal the condemnation of "random," "back in the day," and "perfect storm" (which I rarely see used in any non-ironic context; I'm okay with it being snatched from the mouths of people who'd actually use it seriously).
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:18 PM on January 1, 2008


Y'know why Latin is a dead language? People stopped using it.

People stopped being allowed to change it. The Roman Catholic Church insisted that only clergy were allowed to use it, and they were not allowed to adapt it to new instances. You had to use the Latin that existed to apply to new stuff; couldn't create new words or phrases.

So during the middle ages people started talking to one another using 'vernacular' or common tongues among feudal society. So that eventually the language used among clergymen and scholars differed from that of the common working man. Until it seemed that latin was dead. Scholars used it amongst themselves but common folk didn't have time to figure out how to take old and make it new. They just adapted their language to fit the needs of their present - adaptation means evolution.

Today's english is a hodgepodge of latin, greek, german, and all kindsa languages. Italian, french, spanish, and other variants are all called "romantic" languages, not cuz they're in love or anything. It's cuz they all stem from Rome - they're all based off latin. German's it's own entity, and didn't come from latin. However, english gets the concept of compound words from german, and today scientists often take latin and greek root words to create new words; this is arguably a german inspired concept. Others would argue that but that muddies up the issue.

My point is, latin didn't die. It evolved. Despite jackasses banning phrases or words they deemed inappropriate, it evolved.

Some people think they're doing language a favor by trying to set a standard: fuck them. Censorship doesn't help society. It harms society. If the phrase communicates, it can't be banned. It will just work around past stupidity and into the future. Language doesn't belong frozen in time, locked behind monasteries or ignored inside dusty libraries. Language is a tool. It's meant to be used, not 'protected.'

what sayest thou?

you down with dis?

m i rite?
posted by ZachsMind at 4:30 PM on January 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


m i rite?

I think you're right to a point, ZM. When a friend defended the use of non-word "irregardless" by protesting that English is a living language, I could only reply: You're right, so please, let's not kill it. Certainly English has room to grow, but not all growth is progress. Sometimes it's just, like, a rotting, stinking fungus.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:36 PM on January 1, 2008


*throws ZachsMind under the bus*
posted by wendell at 4:48 PM on January 1, 2008


Certainly English has room to grow, but not all growth is progress.

It seems that you're defining "progress" in personal, aesthetic terms, though. I think it's perfectly fair to say that you don't like the way some people speak, but I'm not sure you can describe that as a problem with the language.

The language isn't going to die just because people start saying "irregardless." It's preposterous to suppose it would. If anything, allowing people to adapt the language for their own use will only spread its popularity.

Now, this process of adaptation will certainly kill the English that you first learned and loved, and that might be sad for you, but it's not indicative of anyone else doing anything wrong.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 4:49 PM on January 1, 2008


The language isn't going to die just because people start saying "irregardless."

No, but in a perfect world, some people would. Kidding, I'm kidding.

Living in a country famous for its creative mangling of English (though not as famous as Japan), I ratchet between a kind of popeyed MartyFeldmanesque impotent rage at the most egregious examples of Konglish from publications and companies and government departments that should not only know better but have the resources to make a cursory effort, and a conviction, as Tex suggests, that the spindling and mutilation of a language (and interpenetration of multiple languages, ooh sex-ay) only results in big strong language muscles (and hybrid vigor).

When it's native speakers doing the mangling (although I'm the first to judge people based on their ability to use their own language, I'll admit), the single most important factor is whether the way in which someone uses words clarifies or obscures. If it's the former, then it's all good.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:12 PM on January 1, 2008


ZachsMind-

Whenever anyone says that Latin is a dead language, the rhetorical question is raised in my mind, "at what date did the people living on the Italian peninsula decide to stop speaking Latin and start speaking Italian?"

Church Latin might be dead, but the Latin of Rome probably just morphed into Italian.

I also think that there's a difference between quality control and stagnation. I don't think there's any contradiction in saying that some words, like "webinar", deserve a quick death, while other tech jargon should enter the lexicon (because it concisely describes things that we'll need to refer to at some point).
posted by Jpfed at 5:15 PM on January 1, 2008


ZachsMind: Keep in mind that not every newly created or appropriated word or phrase becomes a long-term part of the language.

While it is of course impossible to judge right now, they seem here to have isolated fads in language, fads that have lost their power of meaning by virtue of being over-used, being not particularly useful in the first place, or by being euphemistic to the point of dishonesty.

So, while I agree with you, and I don't believe that any of these uses are "wrong," a lot of these words have a breadth of use that is more indicative of a lack of creativity than anything else. I wouldn't be surprised if none of these phrases are in wide use in twenty years. One exception is their criticism of the use of random, which I think is baseless on exactly the grounds that you argue.
posted by invitapriore at 5:17 PM on January 1, 2008


I think "irregardless" is a perfectly fine word. It identifies its user as an ignorant boob who is trying to sound educated. The language and, in fact, all of us are enriched for its existence.
posted by psmealey at 5:17 PM on January 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


Using 'vernacular' is just speaking like Vern would. KnowwhatImean?

I'm OK with anyone using irregardless as long as they know it's wrong.
(And it passes the MeFi spell-check)
posted by MtDewd at 5:30 PM on January 1, 2008


ZM - I can think of some Ancient Greeks who would be very surprised to find out that compounding words is a German idea.
posted by Hello, Revelers! I am Captain Lavender! at 5:36 PM on January 1, 2008


If they banned "moron" what would we call them?
posted by tkchrist at 5:37 PM on January 1, 2008


I'll admit to a rampant over use of the word "Awesome." Yeah, I'll use it for a lot of things that probably are not full of awe just because it's a good all-purpose word.

Soooo... this one time... I was working in a coffeeshop, and an older man took an extra fifteen seconds to give me exact change for his purchase and I thanked him by saying "Oh, awesome."

He glared at me with the hatred of a thousand suns and declared "It's not exactly awesome, but it is correct."

Gee dude. Lighten up. You're harshing my mellow.

(Also: I had never heard the term "throw under the bus" before and will now totally have to start using it. As well as continually overusing the word "totally" in the manner of stereotypical blondes circa 1996.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:44 PM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Now, this process of adaptation will certainly kill the English that you first learned and loved, and that might be sad for you, but it's not indicative of anyone else doing anything wrong.

It is in the sense that there's something technically wrong with "irregardless," the problem being that "ir" and "less" kind of cancel each other out and result in a nonsense word. It can mean something if we decide it has meaning, yeah, but that would be more of a concession to widespread incorrect usage than anything else. I mean, if a lot of kids were suddenly born with a hideous, withered, useless third arm growing out of their chests, and no one could figure out how to keep this from happening, we could ultimately just resign ourselves to this grotesque mutation, perhaps even come to see it as beautiful, but only after a whole lot of attempts to prevent its occurrence.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:49 PM on January 1, 2008


I say "awesome" too much too. I also struggle not to say "what up" in a professional context. I have trouble with "that's coo'" as well.

Thankfully, I don't struggle with "like."
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 5:50 PM on January 1, 2008


The problem with your argument, kitten, is that grammar is descriptive, like any theory describing a natural system. It's a good model for predicting and classifying the patterns that occur in language, but it's only related to what we speak in that it happens to predict the structures with which meaning will be communicated by a group of people who use a certain language.

So, in the ideological construct that is English grammar, "irregardless" contains a redundancy. In the actual English that is spoken, it does not, because in this case the suffix and prefix have lost their independence from the word that they belong to.
posted by invitapriore at 5:54 PM on January 1, 2008


(To clarify, my definition of 'grammar' includes the semantics of a language.)
posted by invitapriore at 5:57 PM on January 1, 2008


It is in the sense that there's something technically wrong with "irregardless," the problem being that "ir" and "less" kind of cancel each other out and result in a nonsense word.

A nonsense word? You really don't know what "irregardless" means? Of course you do!

It's only nonsense when judged against a particular set of rules, but where did you get that set of rules, anyway? From the designer of English? There isn't one. From the international standards body governing English? There isn't one of those, either.

The rules that you're using to condemn "irregardless" aren't even the ones you actually use to read, write, hear, and speak English, since you actually do understand the word, even though the rules say it should be nonsense.

All the worse for your rules, I'd say.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 6:02 PM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


A nonsense word? You really don't know what "irregardless" means? Of course you do!

Generally speaking, it means that the speaker is ignorant of the conventions of his native tongue. This is nothing to be celebrated, and it isn't indicative of a vibrant language; it's a sign that the language is unwell. Slang, profanity, words from other languages, and even reworked preexisting terms (coo' for cool, for instance) are, to me, signs that the language is robust, absorbing influences to become a stronger, faster hunter, and that's awesome. "Irregardless" just means you're using a fifty-cent word wrong. Subjectively, of course! Again, there's nothing stopping us from turning the language into a game of Calvinball, or eschewing it altogether in favor of grunts, mime, and shit-flinging, but if we're going to speak English...
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:14 PM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I agree with psmealey on irregardless. I'll add "inasmuch", a word used in a letter I rec'd from someone who also typed in all capital letters for business correspondence. Certain words seem to appeal to the semi-literate as Big Words to throw around so they sound intelligent.
posted by 45moore45 at 6:15 PM on January 1, 2008


Using 'vernacular' is just speaking like Vern would. KnowwhatImean?

WRONG

I think you mean Ernest. "Vern" is the one to whom Ernest P. Worrel is speaking. The character of "Vern" doesn't actually speak and is represented by camera movements.
posted by wigu at 6:17 PM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


When I moved from upper Michigan to Wisconsin, I'd hoped that I'd escaped Lake State's word nonsense. Instead, not only has it followed me to the Internet, but I now have to put up with Beloit College's list of things that college freshmen "don't know," as well. Fuck you, attention-starved inconsequential schools.
posted by aaronetc at 6:29 PM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Irregardless? I could care less.
posted by wendell at 6:30 PM on January 1, 2008


Generally speaking, it means that the speaker is ignorant of the conventions of his native tongue. This is nothing to be celebrated, and it isn't indicative of a vibrant language; it's a sign that the language is unwell.

That cracks me up, for some reason. Should I just accept that you're not going tell me how these conventions come about, why they command our respect, or how to gauge the health of a language? I think I know the answer, and it boils down to the fact that you and people like you will look down on others who don't speak in the manner you prefer.

Dressing it up in concern about the language is a bit disingenuous, though.

OK, I'll leave you alone. You found a rulebook somewhere, it's dear to your heart, and I'm not going to change your mind.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 6:33 PM on January 1, 2008


New York AA is an agreeable mix of backgrounds and literacy. One nelogism I am fighting against is "umfortability" for discomfort.

For years people would refer to a speaker as a "power of example" a few years ago you began to hear "a powerful example." It's "wrong" but I sort of like it.
posted by shothotbot at 6:50 PM on January 1, 2008


You really don't know what "irregardless" means? Of course you do!

I don't. I can't recall ever hearing it except for people making fun of it. I've no precise idea of its intended meaning other than that it's probably somehow related to "regardless." After this thread, I'm sure I probably don't need to know. I will continue to pretend it's a contraction of "err... regardless."
posted by sfenders at 7:05 PM on January 1, 2008


I used to work with a guy who used "irregardless" and "mercenary" a lot in an attempt to sound like an educated boss.

"I don't want to be mercenary, but ..."

He was trying to say "tough on his underlings," not "venal".

On another note, the switching of "lose" and "loose" bugs the Hell out of me too.

On topic, I look at the list of banished words as a reminder not to let the media influence how I speak.

Thank God I live in Hong Kong, where English jargon is filtered.
posted by bwg at 7:10 PM on January 1, 2008


Let me add my WTF to waterboarding being on that list.
posted by Artw at 7:19 PM on January 1, 2008


"x is the new y"

"Less" is the new "more."




You heard it here first.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:27 PM on January 1, 2008


Can we get rid of "blood and treasure," please?
posted by lukemeister at 9:47 PM on January 1, 2008


Nobody has mentioned basically ?
Basically, basically is like the new like.
posted by spock at 10:12 PM on January 1, 2008


You really don't know what "irregardless" means? Of course you do!

It means without lack of regard.
posted by grouse at 11:15 PM on January 1, 2008


"Less" is the new "more."

You heard it here first.


Is it 1985 again?
posted by oncogenesis at 12:28 AM on January 2, 2008


No, it's 1984.
posted by XMLicious at 1:17 AM on January 2, 2008


There was a thread sometime in the last few weeks where IIRC there was some support for the idea of using the term "water torture" instead of "waterboarding". It can be problematic, but in this instance, I would feel OK about using language to change the way people think. "Global warming denier" on the other hand, is an abomination and badly needs to be retired.
posted by teleskiving at 2:11 AM on January 2, 2008


And on the subject of 1984, from the man himself. An old 'un, but a good 'un.
posted by YouRebelScum at 2:21 AM on January 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


On another note, the switching of "lose" and "loose" bugs the Hell out of me too.

Ah, but "looser" is a hilarious on-line insult, almost as funny as being called "retarted" by some mental giant. I say ban nothing, let the chips fall where they may.
posted by psmealey at 3:07 AM on January 2, 2008


I read half the thread. 1984, prescriptivist vs. descriptivist, not all growth is progress, Latin, teenagers, blah blah blah.

Some words are annoying, so if you say them, shut your damn face FULL STOP.
posted by saysthis at 3:25 AM on January 2, 2008


Well, I wasn't saying that words such as lose or loose should be banished, just that they be used correctly.

I happen to love the fluidity of English in that words can take on new meanings, but I also think that proper spelling (and grammar) is necessary, otherwise the language would become gibberish.

I thnk u cn c wht I mn.

Definately.
posted by bwg at 3:27 AM on January 2, 2008


I also think that proper spelling (and grammar) is necessary, otherwise the language would become gibberish.

I think that proper spelling and grammar are necessary as well, but I don't the language is in much danger. People that aspire to be careful and considered communicators will always make the effort to learn the essentials. The rest of it is either color or noise, depending upon your perspective.
posted by psmealey at 4:29 AM on January 2, 2008


I don't the language is in much danger.

Really? *just kidding*

I agree that the language is probably safe, but we do need to draw the line somewhere between fluidity and ignorance.

The rest of it is either color or noise, depending upon your perspective.

Which depends on my mood. Sometimes I am the you-kids-get-off-my-lawn guy ...
posted by bwg at 4:50 AM on January 2, 2008


'There's nothing wrong with using "organic" the way it's been used. There's plenty of room under the word's several definitions for everyone to be happy. Unless, of course, you have another simple word or phrase for "of, relating to, yielding, or involving the use of food produced with the use of feed or fertilizer of plant or animal origin without employment of chemically formulated fertilizers, growth stimulants, antibiotics, or pesticides." You can't just pick one definition and claim that's the only acceptable one.'

Except animal poop (fertilizer) is chemically formulated. It's just done so biologically. Or are you one of those "I don't eat any food with chemicals in it" people?

And don't give me the line about manmade/artificial crap. Anything manmade is natural. Nature made us. Are beaver dams artificial or natural? The answer is: Yes.

Cruelty-free: You can't prove that. Better to call it, "Hey, man, we try to be nice to the animals." Organic? What the fuck is that? Do you mean you don't use petrochemical fertilizers? Fine, say that (better mention whether you use petrochemical fuel in any of the vehicles used in the process of getting this process to market and into my hands). Don't feed your chickens parts of other, ground-up chickens? Fine, say so. Growth hormones, antibiotics, and so on? Give me a list. Might as well give me a full ingredient list on everything that the food I'm about to eat ever ate, and a full history on how it got from the beginning of the universe to the chicken/cow/tomato's mouth; as well as a full list of diseases it had, recovered from, or was ever exposed to. Because recovering from a disease usually means you have antibodies (which are a form of antibiotic).

I'll wait.
posted by Eideteker at 8:43 PM on January 2, 2008


And, of course, to a chemist, the word "organic" means anything with carbon in it, which means plastic, gasoline, and DDT all count as organic.
posted by straight at 2:41 PM on January 3, 2008


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