Don’t Speak! (These words and phrases in 2012, please)

I am invariably amused by annual “banned words” list from Lake Superior State University.  The official name of the lineup is “List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness.”

Sunday, NPR listeners learned about the genesis of the list: faculty members dreamed it up at a New Year’s Eve party back in the 1970s.

Some of the banned words and phrases that I, too, find especially irksome are: man cave, baby bump, and blowback. The previous year’s list included fail, viral and a-ha moment. Agreed.

But what’s wrong with amazing? True, it may be overused, but I really like it. And, I think I am a responsible user of the word; i.e. I only deploy it when something or someone is truly amazing.

My own pet peeve of 2011? The use of verbs as nouns. I think this grammatical switcheroo began with the first person who used impact, a noun, as a verb; as in, “The economic crisis in the Eurozone impacts the entire world.” Now the shoe is on the other foot and I don’t like it.

I especially dislike the use of ask and spend as nouns.

  • Example: The ask here is that you send in your pet grammar peeves by midnight.
  • Example: Please be sure to list each item in your spend for this project.

I am not one of those people who believes the English language should be static, frozen in time according to the decisions of an unseen group of master grammarians and vocabularians (I may have just made up a word). The way we speak in real life should be reflected in our dictionaries.

But, as the “List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness” shows us, we can register our disapproval, too.

Here’s hoping baby bump (yuck) never joins bootylicious (love it) in our lexicons.

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