Tag Archives: euphemisms

Spoiler alert

Trending With Tracy Spoiler alert is one of the entries to the 2013 List of Banished Words, published today by Lake Superior State University. The 12 words and phrases are accompanied by comments by those who nominated them:

“I’m sick of chirpy entertainment commentators constantly informing us of what ‘is trending right now.’ I used to like a good trend until this,” wrote Nancy of Victoria, British Columbia.

“(We’ve) lost sight of the metaphor and started to think it’s a real place, like with the headline, ‘Obama, Boehner meeting on fiscal cliff,'” opined Barry Cochran, of Portland, Oregon.

I’ve made the Banished Word list a New Year tradition for a number of years, but I can’t help feeling it’s losing some of its pizzazz. Certainly the comments seem tired, even cranky. On the term YOLO (You Only Live Once), Daniel of Hickory, North Carolina, groused,  “Just gives people, especially teens, a reason to do stupid things. I find it annoying and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone here.”

Well, yeah, all the phrases on the list are annoying. But for the first time, the comments are starting to become annoying, too. In their complaining that certain words and phrases are overused and predictable, the nominators themselves are becoming predictable.

Still. with his comment about Job Creators, Bob Fandrich of Fredericksburg, Virginia, makes a valid point:

“If these guys are capitalists, as claimed, they are focused on reducing expenses and maximizing profit. Jobs are a large part of expenses. So, if anything at all, they minimize employment to maximize profits. Up is down, black is white. Job creators are really employment minimizers.”

Two of my favorites on this year’s list stood outside the election cycle: Passion/Passionate and Guru.

“Diabetes is not just Big Pharma’s business, it’s their passion! This or that actor is passionate! about some issue somewhere. A DC lobbyist is passionate! about passing (or blocking) some proposed law, said George Alexander of Studio City, California, who called it a “phony-baloney word.”

“Unless you’re teaching transcendental meditation, Hinduism or Buddhism, please don’t call yourself a guru just because you think you’re an expert at something, “Mitch Devine of Rancho Santa Margarita, California, practically pleaded. “It’s silly and pretentious.”

I don’t remember which term I nominated this year or what my comment was. (I really should write these things down.) But my nomination for the 2014 list is that the Wise Ones at LSSU weigh the quality of the comments as they choose which words to banish.

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Vindicated

Jerome Rubin, a co-founder of LexisNexis, has died.

The Washington Post obituary says that “his parents were Jewish immigrants from Russia.”

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Born to Russian immigrant parents

Eve Arnold and Marilyn Monroe

Eve Arnold with Marilyn Monroe during the filming of 'The Misfits', 1960 Photograph: Eve Arnold/Magnum Photos

Twice in today’s obituaries the phrase “born to Russian immigrants” appeared. One was for screenwriter Frederica Sagor Maas, who was 111 years old (the third-oldest person in California) and who was “born in New York to Russian immigrants.”

The other was photographer Eve Arnold (only 99), who was “born Eve Cohen to Russian immigrant parents in Philadelphia.”

Every time I read that someone was “born to Russian immigrants” the voice of correction in my head shoots back, “Jewish. She was Jewish. Say it with me: Jewish.”

When did Russian become a euphemism for Jewish? It’s like when you read about someone being flamboyant, you know the writer means gay. My guess is that Eve Cohen’s parents didn’t leave Russia because they were Russian, but because they were Jews who were sick of anti-Semitism and were trying to get away from the Russians.

And I say that as the son of a Polish immigrant and grandson of Russian immigrants.

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