Archives: Banished Words 1999
Y2K - "I
feel like I'm drowning in acronym soup these days."
John Charles Robbins, Petoskey News Review, Petoskey,
Mich. "Do we need to abbrev. everything?" asks
Paul Beer, Mississauga, Ont.
The -GATE construction'
- Barry from Pinckney, Mich. says he is tired of hearing
of all of the -gate words being
created in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. Examples
include: Monica-gate, Zipper-gate, Campaign-gate, File-gate,
ad nauseam. Canadians had Pepper-gate.' (Sent via
cellular phone through David Newman's Show on WJR in
Detroit.). "We have long since achieved over-use-gate,'"
says Michele Utterson of Drummond Island.
Courtesy Call -
Al Schut of Muskegon, Mich., wonders when unsolicited
sales calls are ever considered a courtesy.
At The End Of The Day
- Used by many to summarize a conversation or debate, as
in at the end of the day, it's all about family
values.' "Used by political pundits. This is often
recited on evening cable talk shows when the hosts are
explaining why, at the end of the day, the
President will not be impeached. That may have been
true for a particular day, but it did not stand the test
of time." Mike McElroy, Good Hart, Mich. "Hollywood
types and Washington bureaucrats seem unable to say
finally' or in the end.' Randall Heeres,
English Dept., Northern Michigan Christian H.S., McBain,
You The Man/You're The
Man - Nominated by many for over-use, including
Alfieri, Cardinal Newman Catholic Secondary East, Stoney
Creek, Ont. Sandy of KFGO in Fargo, ND was
one of the first to nominate the phrase during a word
banishment interview in January 1998, when she predicted
it would be high on the 1999 list. She was correct.
So - Over-used
by many in conversation, especially teenagers. I am
SO not into that.' That outfit is SO not you.'
"It's used too much and not in the right context."
Lissa Sanchioni, Sudbury, Ont.
pronounced with both syllables drawn out) -
Nominated by many for over-use "not as a greeting,
but as a condescending comment...a lazy approach to a
comeback." Used often with the ever popular (and
banished) duh!' Christine Caruso, St. Anne High
That's Gay -
Over-used by many, especially teenagers, to look down on
something or express dissatisfaction or disagreement.
Lovers of the English language have long bemoaned the
loss of the word gay,' which went from being light-hearted,
merry, bright or lively, to expressing a state of
sexuality. Now we have a generation who knows only the
sexual definition. "The phrase is mis-used and
offends people of that sexual preference. It's not used
in the correct sense," said one student.
Ask For It By Name
- Over-used in advertising. "As if there's any other
way," says Eric Zonyk of Charlotte, Mich.
Bill Clinton And Monica
Lewinski - "Need I say more? The world has
been plagued with the sound of these words for too long.
And the mental image that accompanies the phrase?"
Heather Newburg, LSSU, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
Verbing Of Innocent Nouns
- LSSU received many nominations from folks who are
disappointed with what seems to be a trend of turning
perfectly good nouns into verbs. Some examples include:
to office -- describing the activity of
running an office. Sent in through the Internet by
Russell King, who notes, "Someone needs to suffer
for it!" to dialogue -- "It's not a
verb! It makes me want to go home and monologue."
Marion Boyer, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. to conference
-- "'I am conferencing with her tomorrow'...What's
wrong with I am going to have a conference with her?'"
Karen Cheadle, English teacher, Dansville H.S., Dansville,
Mich. to mentor -- Instead of being a mentor,
now folks talk about mentoring' someone. "Another
infamous noun turned verb by creative (lazy) users of
English." Hugh Valiant, Minnesota Department of
Stun - Douglas
Pearson of Lansing, Mich. is stunned by the frequency at
which stun' or stunned' shows up in headlines
on sports stories these days. He sent many examples
Canucks stun Wings' - and more. The Wings
may have been angry, disappointed or, perhaps, frustrated,
but probably not stunned. Pearson's stunning conclusion:
"The backwards version of stun is nuts.'"
Step Up/Step It Up
- "Athletes are always stepping up' when all they
mean is that some player needs to play better than usual.
At halftime, coaches are always telling us their team
needs to step it up' or a player needs to step
up' for the team to win." Randy Heeres, McBain, Mich.
"If you do poorly, do you step down?' Athletes,
do your best. Forget stepping up.'" Jim Keith,
English Teacher, Buckeye H.S., Medina, Ohio.
Bureaucrap (a category)
- Every year, folks ask for banishment of new words
created by bureaucracies. The words were cast under the
category *bureaucrap' in the late 1980s. This year,
Jessica Stanaway of LSSU spotted the word equivalating'
in an electronic mail note from a colleague on one of the
many Internet listservs for college and university
workers. In this case, the noun equivalent' was
turned into a verb. The same note included workaround,'
a compound non-word used in place of solution'.