Banish the ‘Banished Word’ List

Still not outraged.It’s Groundhog Day for Lake Superior State
University. Ignored by all 364 days a year, the college gets
attention for a day as newsrooms find themselves short of actual
things to report in newspapers and broadcasts due to the holidays.
LSSU produces the annual list of “banished words.” It gets
national attention for what is essentially a list created by people
bitching about popular culture.

The list, compiled from nominations sent to LSSU throughout the
year, is released each year on New Year’s Eve. It dates back to
Dec. 31, 1975, when former LSSU Public Relations Director Bill Rabe
and some colleagues cooked up the whimsical idea to banish overused
words and phrases from the language. They issued the first list on
New Year’s Day 1976. Much to the delight of word enthusiasts
everywhere, the list has stayed the course into a fourth

Through the years, LSSU has received tens of thousands of
nominations for the list, which is closing in on its 1,000th

This year’s list is culled from nominations received mostly
through the university’s website. Editors of the list consider pet
peeves from everyday speech, as well as from the news, fields of
education, technology, advertising, politics and more. A committee
makes a final cut in late December.

This year’s
range from the obvious (“selfie,” twerking,” “hashtag”)
to the political (“intellectually/morally bankrupt,” “obamacare”)
to weird inclusions that must have been pushed through by a
committee member with a grudge (“T-bone”? What the hell?).

LSSU’s site offers a full archive of each year’s list. It’s an
interesting, but frankly a bit tiresome, look at Americans’
seething resentments toward each other, as expressed through shifts
in colloquial language. I find this year’s list particularly awful
– not the words themselves, but rather that they were chosen.
Previous lists have included words or phrases that are actually
problematic in that they were often used to mislead or obscure or
were used in a contradictory fashion or just tossed around
recklessly, terms like “transparency” (2010),  “maverick”
(2009), “sanitary landfill” (2004), “paradigm” (1994), “mandate”
(1985), and one of my own least favorite words, “dialogue” (1976,
their very first list).

But this year’s list is really just all about griping about kids
shaking their asses and posting pictures of themselves on the
Internet. It’s not so much of a collection of loathsome words so
much as it a collective “Get off our Lawn!” directed at the

from Hit & Run

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