The new list of banished words is out. The list is published every New Year’s Day by Lake Superior State University, in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
Here are the words and phrases which are deemed so overused as to constitute a threat to intelligent communication:
Viral, Epic, Fail, Wow Factor, A-ha Moment, Back Story, BFF, Man Up, Refudiate, Mama Grizzlies, The American People, I’m Just Sayin’, Facebook /Google (as verbs), Live Life to the Fullest.
The words and phrases are followed by comments of those who nominated them. My favorite followed “Epic”:
“Standards for using ‘epic’ are so low, even ‘awesome’ is embarrassed.” — Mike of Kettering, Ohio.
The Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate, in its blog entry on the banished words list, adds two of its own nominations: “Your call is important to us” and “partial zero emissions vehicle.” I offered my own list here in 2009.
The point of such lists is not to reveal to the world what a brittle. humorless pendant you’ve become, but to remind ourselves of basic notions of uncluttered communications, such as George Orwell set down in “Politics and the English Language” (1946).
[O]ne needs rules that one can rely on when instinct fails. I think the following rules will cover most cases:
(i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
(ii) Never use a long word where a short one will do.
(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.
(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
Now, to begin work on next year’s list. How about, “I reached out to him”? And, “Going forward.”