‘Tis The Season for Lists

This week, it seems that as soon as Lake Superior State University issued its annual “List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness,” all types of media took on the cause of reporting on the list.

I read about the offending words and phrases in several newspapers and viewed reports about them on network news stations and cable channels and on the Internet. Chances are you saw some of those reports, too.

Environmental buzzwords Green and going green captured the most nominations to appear on the list, but Carbon Footprint and Carbon Offsetting also took hits. They were joined by Maverick, Dude, Bail Out and Wall Street/Main Street (referring to the financial crisis) and other wished-to-be-banished words and phrases.

I was delighted to see Icon or Iconic on the list (not everything from the past is iconic), as well as Staycation (when one curtails summer travel to remain at home), a made-up word that some have called idiotic and rootless. Those words seem to turn up every day in my reading and TV watching, proving at least to me, that they were much overused.

For my money, I wish some list-makers would call attention to media types who, when they announce program breaks, completely ignore the fact that English has a future tense. Wish I had a dime for every time I heard a news anchor say “We are back in two minutes” instead of “We will be back …..”) — I’d have a lot more pocket change than I do now. And how about those sports reporters (and copycats) who seem to confuse the preposition on with the more properly used for. (“He has two birdies on the day.” … instead of saying “He has two birdies for the day”).

Do you suppose they think that the word for is a synonym for the word on?

In the city where I live, TV anchors have begun reporting that some poor souls “went missing“” after wandering away from home. Sounds like something from a British murder mystery, doesn’t it? “Wandered off” or simply “disappeared” have worked well up to now, with the added benefit of not sounding as pretentious as “went missing.”

Those are the same news anchors who evidently think it grammatically incorrect to say “between you and me.” I shudder every time one of them says “between you and I.”

Do you think it’s time to start a “Word/Phrase Shudder-Making Mis-Use List“? I’m up for it. What words or phrases would you include?

© 2009 Laverne Daley

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2 Comments on “‘Tis The Season for Lists”

  1. Ike Martin says:

    In basketball, announcers refer to a player’s ability to score the ball. Perhaps the player needs to trim his nails.

    One doesn’t “past out”. If they do, they have gone too far.

    Penultimate almost took the prize for the worst.

  2. ldaley says:

    Those are definitely shudder-making words, Ike. I knew you’d come up with some good condidates for the list. Thank you!

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