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Mike Hall: What happened to ‘banished’ words?

Mike Hall
Special to Gannett Kansas
Mike Hall

Grammarians all over the world are atwitter with excitement over the fact that Jan. 1 is only 21 days away.

It’s the day the people at Lake Superior State University announce their annual “List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.”

It occurred to me that someone should hold those folks accountable for their campaign, begun in 1976, to rid hundreds of annoying words and phrases from our language.

I decided to do a 10-year examination, to determine how successful they have been.

Following is the list from 2011, with condensed comments from the nominators:

Viral: I have no objection to this word's use as a way to differentiate a (viral) illness from bacterial.

Epic: ... echoing trite, hyperbolic internet phrases in an effort to look witty or intelligent actually achieves the opposite

Fail (as a noun): Whether it is someone tripping, a car accident, a costumed character scaring the living daylights out a kid, or just a poor choice in fashion, these people drive me crazy thinking that anything that is a mistake is a “fail.”

Wow factor: Done-to-death phrase to point out something with a somewhat significantly appealing appearance.

A-ha moment: All this means is a point at which you understand something or something becomes clearer.

Backstory: A perfectly good word has been used for years. In this case, the word is “history.”

BFF: These chicks call each other BFF (Best Friends Forever) and it lasts about 10 minutes. Now there's BFFA (Best Friends For Awhile), which makes more sense.

Man up: ... as in “Alexis, you need to man up and join that Pilates class!”

Refudiate: Adding this word to the English language simply because a part-time politician lacks a spell checker on her cellphone is an action that needs to be repudiated.

Mama Grizzlies: Unless you are referring to a scientific study of Ursus arctos horribilis, this analogy of right-wing female politicians should rest in peace.

The American people: Beyond overuse, these (politicians) imply that 'the American people' want/expect/demand all the same things. They don't.

I’m just sayin’: Obviously you are saying it ... you just said it!

Facebook, Google (as verbs): As bad as they are, the trend can only get worse, i.e. “I'm going to Twitter a few people, then Yahoo the movie listings and maybe Amazon a book or two."

Live life to the fullest: First, things are full or they're not; there is no fullest.

Second, “live life” is redundant.

Mike Hall can be reached at tajma@cox.net.