January 1, 2002
5:50 AM   Subscribe

Lake Superior State University has issued its 27th annual 'List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness', based on submissions from the public. The most contentious inclusion is the term '9-11', which many people felt trivialised the events of 11 September.
posted by Owen Boswarva (35 comments total)

 
A good start, but the Business/Tech section ought to include every term listed in Dack's Web Economy Bullshit Generator.

...and the word "stupidish".
posted by MrBaliHai at 6:01 AM on January 1, 2002


If we are to banish 9/11, what might be a useful substitute? The site suggests Pearl Harbor is better than Dec. 7, and this though right (for me) suggests a specific place where an attack upon America took place. The terror attack that took place 9/11 was in NY, Pa, and DC.
In almost every instance where the list banishes a word or phrase, it offers a useful alternative or substitute. There is none proposed for 9/11, so till that time I would guess this will be a shorthand reference to the terrible events that took place on that date.
posted by Postroad at 6:10 AM on January 1, 2002


Like nearly everyone, I use "9/11" (pronounced "nine-eleven"), to refer to September 11, 2001. I feel very confused when "911" is used (pronounced "nine-one-one") instead, as that is the USA's emergency telephone number.
posted by Carol Anne at 7:37 AM on January 1, 2002


I sometimes say the 'the attack,' and even once said 'the events of September 11th,' like I was Charlie Rose or Peter Jennings.
I'm not comfortable with 9-11--what to say is still a headscratcher for me.
posted by y2karl at 8:10 AM on January 1, 2002


How about "The Attack" - ?
posted by SilentSalamander at 8:12 AM on January 1, 2002


ummm... 2 min. too late.
posted by SilentSalamander at 8:13 AM on January 1, 2002


DISENFRANCHISE - " ... blah-blah-blah ... What's next? 'Disenable'? - Mike Bunis, Key West, Florida.

Well, of course he'd never want to hear it again. That's like Gate's asking for "monopoly" to be stricken.
posted by RavinDave at 8:15 AM on January 1, 2002


I just submitted the phrase "Queen's English" to their list of words and terms to be banished.
posted by bragadocchio at 9:47 AM on January 1, 2002


Serious crankbait. This is like language gripes for stupid people. Terms like "functionality", "killer app", "brainstorm", "friendly fire" all have fairly precise and useful meanings. The gripers either don't know what they mean or are using this to inject a little snarkiness about the topics. Nothing wrong with snarkiness, but if you hate meetings, hate meetings, not an innocent word like "brainstorm." A few of these are interesting, but most are gems of insight like
FORESEEABLE FUTURE - Just how long is foreseeable? "What about the unforeseeable future?" ponders James Hartman from Winnipeg, Manitoba.
I bet that took plenty of pondering to come up with. How about the foreseeable present? No, that's no good. How about the forehearable future? Naaah.... It's like an nth-rate standup routine.

Background: This list was thought up by the late Bill Rabe, who was the long-time head of publicity for Lake Superior State, which is a tiny college (3000 students) in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Rabe was a favorite of columnists and editors around Michigan, because he could always be counted on for a wacky and humorous quote about some issue of the day. Most of these had nothing to do with Lake Superior State, but when they were printed, they always said "Bill Rabe from Lake Superior State at the Soo says..." He probably did more for LSS's name recognition than every other person associated with it, including the hockey program, did put together. So while the Banished Words List and the Unicorn Hunters are legendary in the annals of PR, they shouldn't be confused with anything worth serious "pondering."

They did start the world's premiere stone skipping tournament, however.
posted by rodii at 9:56 AM on January 1, 2002


I’d add “myself” except when used as a reflexive pronoun (“woke up this morning and got myself a beer”), and “penultimate” when used to mean “really ultimate!”

I prefer “September 11” because in many countries the shorthand form would be “11/9,” not “9/11.” “911” is just wrong. Some people say “WTC,” but that’s no good because it leaves out Pennsylvania and Virginia.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:26 AM on January 1, 2002


Rodii, thanks for the illuminating comments on this site. It really did look like a "Mr. Blackwell's 10 worst-dressed women" PR stunt -- and a very good one it is, considering the fact that Lake Superior State University is so otherwise obscure. And I love your description "language gripes for stupid people." Almost every word on the list is precise and useful in the right context. Sure, they're cliches. But only geniuses (Nabokov and Amis, say) can afford to scorn cliches. For the rest of the human race, cliches comprise the sum of verbal communication.
posted by Faze at 10:34 AM on January 1, 2002


In fairness to Lake Superior State, they have a kickass hockey program (3 NCAA championships).
posted by rodii at 11:22 AM on January 1, 2002


Are we really in so much of a hurry that "the attacks on New York and Washington" is too much to say?

That said, "...then the terrorists have already won" is my favorite new proof that irony is alive and well.
posted by aaronetc at 12:34 PM on January 1, 2002


My biggest redundancy bugbear has got to be either "I peronally...." or even worse (though I'm not sure why) is "Personally, I...".

Then there are the people who say "basically" way too often.
posted by jackiemcghee at 1:24 PM on January 1, 2002


Last year I had a meeting with a guy who used the word 'fundamentally' about fifty times in less than 30 minutes. Over use of just about any word can get annoying very quickly.
posted by fakenamex at 1:36 PM on January 1, 2002


Are we really in so much of a hurry that "the attacks on New York and Washington" is too much to say?

Well, it does kind of leave out all those people who died in a smoking crater about an hour from where I'm sitting. . .

Anyway, I've got to applaud the inclusion of "ramp up" in the list, the next person who tells me that they're ramping something up is going to face my verbal wrath. It's a completely contrived use of a word with a very distinct meaning.

Terms like [...] "killer app" [...] all have fairly precise and useful meanings.

I think the objection to "killer app" may have more to do with the watering-down of the meaning of "killer" when it is used in this matter -- everyone eantss a killer app, when in reality, killers ought be avoided. Perhaps if the nomenclature had appropriately embraced killer as a negative word and "killer apps" were the ones that destroyed a company's integrity (Netscape 4.x?) or were completely user-unfriendly, had non-existent or highly suspect support, etc. then there wouldn't be an objection to the term.
posted by Dreama at 1:50 PM on January 1, 2002


"Last year I had a meeting with a guy who used the word 'fundamentally' about fifty times in less than 30 minutes."

At my high school, the driving instructor was known for his overuse of the word 'information'. It wasn't noticeable until someone pointed it out, though, and then it just became hilarious. I was told by my then-future wife to listen for it, and it just cracked me up, so of course I told everyone else in the class to pay attention.

Every time he'd say it in class you could hear a wave of snickers sweep through the room, and he'd turn around and give us that "teacher glare". I'm still pretty sure he had no idea why we were all laughing at him.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:09 PM on January 1, 2002


everyone eantss a killer app, when in reality, killers ought be avoided

Oh come on. The phrase of "killer" as something good was well-established long before "killer app." Stand-up comics have "killed" for decades, for example.
posted by kindall at 2:18 PM on January 1, 2002


Properly, a killer app is the one that destroys all competition by its very existence. This is the way I recall it being used in the mid-80s. By the 90s it caught on as the app that makes a given computer platform a must-buy, and more generally, as the type of application (e.g. not just Outlook but e-mail generally). There's a subtle difference, even though there's also a good deal of overlap in terms of the actual software that gets called that.

I wouldn't take this too seriously, of course. They're not saying the words don't have good meanings to begin with, only that they're being used too broadly or just too much.
posted by dhartung at 2:49 PM on January 1, 2002


By the 90s it caught on as the app that makes a given computer platform a must-buy, and more generally, as the type of application (e.g. not just Outlook but e-mail generally).

All this terminology used to be the other way around. An application was something you used a computer for (e.g., accounting), it was literally the application of technology to a problem. Software that was used in applications used to be called "application programs" by contrast with system programs or utility programs. This was inevitably shortened by frequent use to "application" and now we have to say things like "type of application" when we mean what used to be meant by "application" alone.
posted by kindall at 5:42 PM on January 1, 2002


figures...Upers('you-pers') watch words freeze from there lips. at least we have Julia Moore.
posted by clavdivs at 6:06 PM on January 1, 2002


now we have to say things like "type of application" when we mean what used to be meant by "application" alone.

Space.

"We're going to big in the e-pee space this year."
posted by rodii at 6:22 PM on January 1, 2002


Oh come on. The phrase of "killer" as something good was well-established long before "killer app." Stand-up comics have "killed" for decades, for example.

And those who have a distaste for "killer apps" for the reasons I've stated, wouldn't look to fondly toward "killer" comics and the like, either.
posted by Dreama at 6:25 PM on January 1, 2002


There'll always be a soft spot in my heart for 40-foot Killer Robots, though.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:20 PM on January 1, 2002


and why in Europe don't we call it 11-9?
posted by brettski at 4:00 AM on January 2, 2002


In the same vein as the posts above, my boss overuses the word "scenario" daily. I have pointed this out to my co-workers, now when we hear it we all grin. The "scenario" annoyance is on top of his being an atrocious speller.
posted by allpaws at 6:15 AM on January 2, 2002


I suggest "pushing the envelope". Get rid of it. We are already forbidden to use the word solution at my work for our publication, it is overused so much.
posted by adampsyche at 6:26 AM on January 2, 2002


Well, it does kind of leave out all those people who died in a smoking crater about an hour from where I'm sitting. . .

Unless I've missed some new information, the PA crash was a failed attack on Washington, no?


posted by aaronetc at 7:54 AM on January 2, 2002


everyone [w]antss a killer app, when in reality, killers ought be avoided.

The hell you say!

And those who have a distaste for "killer apps" for the reasons I've stated, wouldn't look to fondly toward "killer" comics and the like, either.

The blanket can't really get any wetter than this, can it? I guess we can go ahead and dismiss such unfeeling phrases as "exploded myth," "incendiary rhetoric" and "getting bombed this weekend" as well.
posted by Skot at 8:18 AM on January 2, 2002


Damned right! Such language is necessarily inflamat...er...

Oh, shoot.
posted by dwivian at 8:56 AM on January 2, 2002


Large segments of the population should be forced to submit to a remedial course called Why the Conjunction "But" is Not a Synonym for "And"
posted by ParisParamus at 9:34 AM on January 2, 2002


I'm really sick of people who constantly say "check it out." The lead singer of this band I saw a month ago said it constantly during between-song banter and it just drove me nuts. There. Call me a crank!
posted by schmedeman at 9:39 AM on January 2, 2002


Does "killer" derive from the old cliche, "Knock 'em dead?" Or does it derive from "slay?" No, wait, the word "kill" has also long meant to "finish off." As in, kill the story, or kill this thread, whatever. According to the American Heritage Dictionary it can also mean "to completely consume." To strictly associate the word with murder, or to accuse others who use a derivation as promoting murder or something is . . . well, pretty strange.
posted by raysmj at 10:14 AM on January 2, 2002


I've said it before, but I'll poke my head in here again.. the whole '9-11' thing annoys me. It's sound-byte and an annoying meme.

I, too, call the day 'the attack', or say September 11, instead of the intending-to-be-cool-slick-and-annoying '9-11' shorthand.
posted by rich at 10:14 AM on January 2, 2002


Rainbarrel: "I have a sinking feeling that this year's smell of self-righteousness may be due to the fact that over half of the list were submitted by Canadians."
posted by todd at 6:30 PM on January 4, 2002


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