Lake Superior State University’s List of Banished Words is out a bit early, so we can all slip into 2012 imagining a world where these overused words and phrases are scarcely spoken:
The new normal.
Win the future.
Thank you in advance.
Maybe because of the worlds I inhabit, I’ve never heard of trickeration (from football) and pet parent. And I hadn’t realized how omnipresent amazing has become — “Many nominators mentioned [amazing's] over-use on television when they sent their entries,” according to the LSSU webpage, “mentioning ‘reality’ TV, Martha Stewart and Anderson Cooper. It seemed to bother people everywhere, as nominations were sent from around the U.S. and Canada and some from overseas, including Israel, England and Scotland.
“Every talk show uses this word at least two times every five minutes. Hair is not ‘amazing.’ Shoes are not ‘amazing,’” Martha Waszak wrote to LSSU.
“The word has been overused to describe things only slightly better than mundane,” wrote Alyce-Mae Alexander. “I blame Martha Stewart because to her, EVERYTHING is amazing! It has lost its ‘wow factor’ and has reached ‘epic’ proportions of use. It’s gone ‘viral,’ I say! ‘I’m just sayin’!’ “
The outrage has grown to the point where there is now a Facebook page called “Overuse of the word ‘Amazing.’ “
I was part of an online discussion yesterday with a guy who felt the Banished Word List is the product of an elite professoriate trying to police the speech of regular people. My impression is that nominations to the list are made by regular people, and that far from being attempts to muzzle free speech and free thought, nominations and comments are made in a lighthearted spirit. We all use at least some of these cliches. The List of Banished Words helps us hear ourselves talk, and decide whether there will be blowback, or just a response; whether we want to make another Occupy Wall Street reference, or come up with a new way to be clever; and if something is really, truly, undeniably amazing.
And, as they say in Public Radio Land, you’re invited to join the conversation. (I’ll take my response off the air.)