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The Linguistic Banhammer Falls Again
December 31, 2008 12:29 AM   Subscribe


 
On the radio this afternoon, they had another list of "banished words", clearly from another source.

Included was "closure". That meaningless psychobabble should have been toasted about a decade ago.

There was also "rightsizing" - companies no-longer downsize, apparently, they rightsize. I'd never heard that one before, but detested it immediately.
posted by Jimbob at 12:40 AM on December 31, 2008


Utterance of the word "staycation" shall henceforth be punished by removing the tongue of the offender and using it to beat him to death.
posted by stavrogin at 12:41 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


I enjoy that post. Rough sentiment of many of us in 2008 towards the cliche phrases.
posted by jimahon at 12:42 AM on December 31, 2008


I grew up in Linguistic Banhammer Falls.

It was a giant-huge unpleasantness in the posterior.

Now where did that damn dog go? HEY, TIC-TOC!
posted by loquacious at 12:44 AM on December 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


Can I nominate rick-roll for that list?
posted by DreamerFi at 1:13 AM on December 31, 2008


I'm kind of surprised Rick-Roll wasn't on this year's list. They also missed FAIL, but they have next year...

Closure was on LSSU's list in 1996; they haven't gotten to Rightsizing, but Downsizing was on the 1993 list. THE COMPLETE LIST
posted by wendell at 1:23 AM on December 31, 2008


What about "tipping point" ?
posted by sien at 1:24 AM on December 31, 2008


Without "monkey"what will code monkeys call themselves?
posted by Cranberry at 1:43 AM on December 31, 2008


motherfuckers >:-(
posted by cmonkey at 2:01 AM on December 31, 2008 [3 favorites]


Included was "closure". That meaningless psychobabble should have been toasted about a decade ago.

Damn straight - continuations should go next.
posted by ghost of a past number at 2:04 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Damn straight - continuations should go next.

You'll have to pry my lambdas from my cold, dead hands.
posted by Fruny at 2:17 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know who else should post its own list?
Metafilter: where beans and memes get overthunk.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:20 AM on December 31, 2008


I'm going to be honest, I think this list is very snide. You may object to a practice, such as 'bailouts' or 'carbon offsetting' because you think they are stupid or wrong, and that is fine. But just because you are bored of certain terminology, doesn't make it silly - the Wall Street/Main Street distinction is uncommon where I come from, and I find it useful. One person on the site complains there are no Main Street's where he comes from, so the constant references irritate him. Poor little lamb.

These people are trying to dictate what is fashionable: 'green' was once in, but now it is the verbal equivalent of flares. If you use these words, we won't like you! Quick! Tell your friends!
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 3:13 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Main Street's" - oh dear.
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 3:16 AM on December 31, 2008


I'm ready for "low-hanging fruit" to go away.

I also wish that I had never heard of "lean six sigma", but that's another story.
posted by SteveTheRed at 4:01 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


But just because you are bored of certain terminology, doesn't make it silly...

Yeah, exactly. I sure hope people don't start polluting more just because they are tired of the word "green". And what's this hate for "closure"? Just because a term is overused by idiots doesn't mean the concept itself is useless.
posted by DU at 4:23 AM on December 31, 2008


The concept itself might not be useless, but the word gets banished when, due to constant use and abuse by the wrong folks, it becomes operationally overloaded with ... something else. I'm looking at you, irony. Like some herpetologist in a toxic future two centuries hence, I intend to spend a spare week trying to classify how irony existed in its various forms before disaster struck, then understand how it came to exist in its new incarnations ... but for right now, any sight of it, in its confusing new repellent form, makes me want to crush it with a heavy, flat rock — out of revulsion or pity, I cannot say which.

"Green" can be a crappy concept because it's fuzzy. Green is a lean in a direction. A car might be green if it was made out of 98.2% recyclable parts and emitted no carbon dioxide and happened to suck pollutants out of the air and transform them into magical, nutrient-rich loam. That's green. It's also green if it's the same old car with a slightly higher MPG. Green is even less useful than organic.

Other words and phrases are simply mealy-mouthed copouts from the get-go: right-sizing is a perfect example. Those PR-derived weaselspeak words have a special flavor: Orwellian, sterile, filled with the sort of oily deception you'd expect from bad coffee.

Finally, we have words who have lost by association. Maverick will be toxic for three or four years, due to its use as a self-descriptor by people who were quite the opposite and managed to score a humiliating amount of FAIL.
posted by adipocere at 4:57 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


the only thing for which my alma mater is known.
posted by stubby phillips at 5:00 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


This announcement of this list must be like Christmas, Valentines Day, and Easter all rolled up into one for the august folks at Lake Superior State University (enrollment 3,000).

Did they ever try to banish "claim to fame" or "15 minutes of fame?"
posted by Slap Factory at 5:02 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Green" can be a crappy concept because it's fuzzy.

That's like saying "good" or "yummy" or "evil" is a crappy concept because it's fuzzy. Hitler was evil, but so is the new url bar in Firefox 3. Does this mean that "evil" will be on the list on 12/31/2009?

As with everything else, it's all about context and critical thinking. Are you listening to an advertisement from Applebee's? Then take that "yummy" with a grain of salt. Similarly, if you are looking at a car in the first place (rather than a bike, say), keep in mind that "green" is relative.

"Green", like "old" and a million other concepts is not an absolute. It's an axis along which things can vary. Adding that axis to the mental toolkit is a good thing. Pick a different word if that one seems obsolete to you, but you are going to have the same "fuzziness" problem with any word you pick, because the concept is inherently relative.

I will definitely agree that many people, especially in marketing materials, try to make "green" sound like an absolute. But that's just idiots being idiots or marketers being evil. In actual human communication, it is generally used correctly.
posted by DU at 5:18 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am very upset that this list does not include the suffix -ista.
posted by thecaddy at 5:29 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


On a related note, I would like for Cop Talk to go away. It's bad enough when cops talk in ridiculous code. Worse when others pick it up. The other day, I was watching an interview with a truly heroic guy who was kidnapped by would-be thieves and was being forced to drive to the bank by the robbers. He managed to jump the bad guy with a gun while yelling to a cop for help. Good for him; he saved himself and his family. But at the end, he said, and I quote exactly, that the cop "was able to apprehend the suspect." No, the hero grabbed the SOB bad guy and the cop arrested him. I could rest easy* next year if that way of talking would go away.

*well, there's the economy, Iraq, the Mideast to worry about, plus Sanjaya' Malakar's coming to my town next week. But you know what I mean.
posted by etaoin at 5:46 AM on December 31, 2008


I always have, and always will have, a deep, dark, intense hatred for "not so much." I really hope this list has the authority to banish the phrase not only from future use, but from my memory.

True fact: I was talking to a lady who I considered quite attractive and was considering asking out. After a lot of engaging, fun, intelligent conversation, she used "not so much" and I had the immediate Seinfeldian reaction of immediately losing all interest in her.

::shudder::
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 6:16 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


And did you get laid that night? Not so much.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:39 AM on December 31, 2008 [4 favorites]


Believe me. It was small price to pay to maintain my dignity.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 6:45 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


It was small price to pay...

THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID
posted by DU at 6:53 AM on December 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


It was small price to pay...

THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID


Not so much.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 7:01 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


I expected to come in here and make some sort of argument about how vernacular language is always kind of slippery and context-defined, and how the emergence of new common parlance always seems crass to those who have spoken the old common parlance, this list is fun and curmudgeonly but also not really that interesting, etc.

Instead I find "I'd hit that" vs. "Do not want". I guess if your primary boner source is women who faultlessly use the words 'whom', 'lagniappe', and 'disinterest', this is where that discussion belongs.
posted by goldfinches at 7:09 AM on December 31, 2008


Reading that again, the sarcasm is maybe not as obvious as I would've liked. If you're reading it and believe that I truly endorse the discussion immediately prior and you're inclined to being kind to me, maybe you could mentally italicize the word 'guess'. I have nothing against grammarians and everything against FARKfilter.
posted by goldfinches at 7:19 AM on December 31, 2008


Reading that again, the sarcasm is maybe not as obvious as I would've liked.

Metafilter - Where the sarcasm is maybe not as obvious as you would've liked.
posted by nonliteral at 8:46 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


KILL THEM NOW:

In regards to

Meh

Foodie
posted by applemeat at 9:18 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Slap Factory: This announcement of this list must be like Christmas, Valentines Day, and Easter all rolled up into one for the august folks at Lake Superior State University (enrollment 3,000).

Did they ever try to banish "claim to fame" or "15 minutes of fame?"


Throw "attention whore" onto the pile and now we're talking.
posted by hangashore at 9:23 AM on December 31, 2008


language discussions like these are porn to the little grammarian
locked in the deep, dark recesses of my brain. :D
posted by liza at 9:58 AM on December 31, 2008


And:

Nails/Nailed it
posted by applemeat at 10:12 AM on December 31, 2008


Why is "Obama" not on the list?
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 10:56 AM on December 31, 2008


I use <3 all the time. I think it's useful.
posted by empath at 12:00 PM on December 31, 2008


I would like to ban "This."
posted by empath at 12:01 PM on December 31, 2008


-Monkey

D'oh!
posted by homunculus at 1:07 PM on December 31, 2008


For next year's list:

Yes, we/you can.

Change [we can believe in].

(I saw co-opted Obama rhetoric on the cover of some magazines while I was in line at the store today, and was quite skeeved out..."Yes, you can! lose fifty pounds and keep it off!")
posted by voltairemodern at 1:47 PM on December 31, 2008


I'd hit it.
posted by mendel at 3:00 PM on December 31, 2008


Somehow unbanned for the umpteenth year in a row: "Fuck off, Lake State."
posted by aaronetc at 3:29 PM on December 31, 2008


This will [deprecated].
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:12 PM on December 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


Foodie, yes. Also: methinks, get thee... and 98% of former/latter usage.
posted by auntbunny at 8:31 PM on December 31, 2008


I can't believe "from the get-go" isn't in the big list.
posted by telstar at 8:59 PM on December 31, 2008


you can have my "meh" when you pry it from... whatever.

Seriously, just because people finally realized the greatest non-verbal expression in the world doesn't mean I have to stop using it. em ee eighch. meh.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:44 AM on January 1, 2009


Winner of x nominations has been going on (and driving me nuts) for more than just the past year.
posted by O9scar at 10:29 AM on January 1, 2009


</3
posted by Eideteker at 8:58 PM on January 1, 2009


"I would like to ban 'This.'"

This.

The list is not merely about buzzwords or boring terminology. It's about abusing words until they lose all meaning. What is "green"? It's vaguely "environmental" and is an otherwise entirely meaningless word meant to just make you feel good. Like "organic" food.

"Seinfeldian"

I would like to preemptively add this to the list. It's the first time I've heard it, and hopefully the last.

Lastly, who the fuck are these idiots living on Main Street? Everyone I know lives on a side street, not above a mom and pop storefront on the main drag.
posted by Eideteker at 9:07 PM on January 1, 2009


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