Every year my father sends me a list. This years list, "Fake News," "covfefe" top this year's banned words list was published by MICHIGAN RADIO. Reviewing these lists and reflecting or laughing at our having fallen into the traps of using the shamed words is a New Year tradition for us. I thought I might share it with you too. "Let me ask you this" are you guilty? I am, but also I am committed to improving. For me, shedding some words might be as important as shedding a few pounds!
Lake Superior State University List of Banished Words
The tradition created by the late W T Rabe, former director of public relations at Lake Superior State University (MI) is now in its fifth decade and continues with this year’s annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use, and General Uselessness.
On December 31, 1975 the LSSU director of public relations and his colleagues had the idea to banish overused words and phrases. The list was distributed on New Year’s Day 1976. In the following weeks and months, when nominations for the next year’s list began arriving at his office, he knew the list would endure. The LSSU public relations office still receives thousands of suggestions every year from people who never tire of talking about words and language.
On to the 2018 list…
Unpack – Misused word for analyze, consider, assess. Concepts or positions are not packed, so they do not need to be unpacked.
Tons – Refers to an exaggerated quantity, as in tons of sunshine or tons of work. “Lots” would surely suffice.
Dish – As in to dish out the latest rumor on someone. Let’s go back to “talks about” and leave dishes in the cupboard.
Pre-owned – What is so disgraceful about owning a used car now and then?
Onboarding/Offboarding – Creature from the HR Lagoon. We used to have hiring, training, and orientation. Now we need to have an “onboarding” process. Firings, quitting, and retirements are streamlined into “offboarding.”
Nothingburger – Says nothing that ‘nothing’ doesn’t already. I’ll take a quarter-pound of something in mine.
Let that sink in – One could say shocking, profound, or important. Let that sink in.
Let me ask you this – Wholly unnecessary statement. Just ask the question.
Impactful -- A frivolous word groping for something ‘effective’ or ‘influential.’
Covfefe -- An impulsive typo, born into a 140-character universe, somehow missed by the autocorrect feature.
Drill Down – Instead of expanding on a statement, we “drill down on it.”
Fake News – Once upon a time stories could be empirically disproved. Now ‘fake news’ is any story you disagree with.
Hot Water Heater – Hot water does not need to be heated. ‘Water heater’ or ‘hot water maker’ will keep us out of hot water.
Gig Economy – Gigs are for musicians and stand-up comedians. Now expanded to imply a sense of freedom and a lifestyle that rejects tradition in a changing economic culture. Runs a risk of sharecropping.