For those who hoped I was done talking about words for a while, sorry. Well, not really. I am a word nerd after all.
Lake Superior State University had its say on words that merit banishment, and now it’s Voices readers’ turn.
One reader went all out and made me chortle so much he might have heard it in Searcy. He used up a boatload of cliches, so we may have to come up with more. (I still threaten occasionally to write something that’s nothing but cliches, but he beat me to it.)
John McPherson wrote: “I fear I may sound like a broken record and maybe I am just beating a dead horse trying to make it go to water to drink but one word that just makes me gnash my teeth while climbing the walls screaming like a banshee is ‘snuck’ used in place of sneaked. I would rather hear a thousand ain’ts than one snuck, but I guess I’m just one lonely onion in a petunia patch as far as that goes. At the end of the day, few care what I think.
“Going from words to phrases that need to be banished, ‘at the end of the day’ would probably head my list. Many euphemisms are useful but some are overused such as ‘passed away’ in place of died to the extent that I have heard of a beached whale passing away on the beach. Also galling to me are hunters and newspaper writers using ‘take’ or ‘taking’ instead of ‘kill’ or ‘killing.’ Thanks for letting me vent, steam, rail and rant.”
You’re welcome, John! And anytime you want to gripe, bellyache, carp and denounce, you know where to find me.
John wasn’t the only one who’d love to see “at the end of the day” kick the bucket. Karl Hansen is also no fan of the phrase, as well as “going forward” (both phrases that annoy me as well), and “that humbles me,” which he described as “an asinine expression used by a gob of politicos who’ve just been elevated above their competency level.”
Of course, being humble hasn’t exactly been much of a problem of late among many politicians.
Another Karl, Karl Kimball, has a hated word from the political realm, writing, “My nomination for ‘banned’ word: collusion. It isn’t intrinsically a crime, and is being thrown around vituperatively by people with a history of colluding, including to undo an election!” But whether collusion happened is up to those investigating it, isn’t it? And there all those collateral crimes being investigated as well, so … yeah, gonna leave it to Mueller.
Laurence Gray and Pat Phillips have some peeves involving the language of common courtesy. Laurence wrote, “I would like to see ‘my bad’ permanently banished because it supposedly means ‘my mistake’.”
I once worked with someone who it seemed said “My bad” with every other sentence, so I completely sympathize. Somehow I managed not to slap him when he did—a triumph of self-control there, believe me.
Pat wrote that she is bothered “when I say ‘thank you’ to someone (generally a younger person) and they say ‘no problem’ instead of ‘you’re welcome’.” Admittedly I have sometimes done this even though I try not to. Just can’t control that tongue at times. I’m also guilty of using Pat’s other peeve, starting sentences with “so.” So … I should really stop that.
News clerk extraordinaire and fellow word nerd CB Byrd is irritated when people use “countless,” and rightly so, because as he told me, just because you don’t know the number doesn’t meant that something can’t be counted. If you’re talking about stars in the sky, we can let that go, but something like M&Ms in a bowl … nah. And those M&Ms are gonna disappear if I’m in the room.
Tom Barron wrote: “Your column today on banished words was ‘awesome.’ And unless it has already been added to the list, I think ‘awesome’ should be included next time. That would be ‘amazing’!” Well, Lake Superior State banished “awesome” twice, in 1984 and 2007 (apparently the first one didn’t take), mostly because of the straying from its actual meaning (causing awe or dread) to how it’s currently mostly used to say, “Hey, that’s great.” “Amazing,” by the way, was banished in 2012.
Finally, Bill Polk is “weary of hearing about all those things that we deserve, from the best car to the most comprehensive insurance. What did we do to ‘deserve’ it? Are we each so special that no one is special?”
He’s right, and I’m getting flashbacks from The Incredibles. I think we all deserve a break from being so deserving. It’s exhausting.
I still advocate for the removal of “fake news” from the language. In the past week we’ve seen even more debasement of actual definitions for “fake news” and other terms like “hoax,” “accomplishments” and, good lord, “stable” and “genius,” and I can only hope that we can reclaim real meaning.
I’m starting to wonder if at the end of all this we’ll all just be drooling in the corner with the other “stable genius.”
That stable genius Mr. Ed is rolling in his grave right now.