Words I Can’t Say (This Year)

For those of you who thought that the people at the Pantone Institute – who go around picking the colour of the year – had a lot of time of their hands …

The word critics over at Lake Superior State University were hard at work a couple weeks ago, and it looks like they could give the Pantone posse a run for their money:

DETROIT – Resist the urge to say you will “wordsmith” your list of New Year’s resolutions rather than write one.

It’s one of the 19 words or phrases that appear in Lake Superior State University’s annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness.

The school in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula released its 33rd list Monday, selecting from about 2,000 nominations. Among this year’s picks are “surge,” the term for the troop buildup in Iraq.

“Give me the old days, when it referenced storms and electrical power,” Michael Raczko of Swanton, Ohio, said in nominating the word.

The list also included “waterboarding,” “perfect storm,” “under the bus” and “organic.”Sadly for grammar’s guardians, the lighthearted list isn’t binding, as evidenced by the continued use of past banned words and phrases such as “erectile dysfunction,” “i-anything” and “awesome.”

Still, university spokesman Tom Pink, part of a committee that evaluates submissions, takes his syntactic success where he can find it. His office once received a letter from an Arizona Supreme Court justice who said he posted that year’s list on a bulletin board and prohibited all attorneys from using those words.

Considering how many times I’ve used the word “awesome” so far this year, it’s a wonder the word police aren’t already writing up a warrant for my arrest.

But I won’t let the word fuzz put me under the bus, yo. So what if I use an outdated word, or a made-up one or two? It’ll just be the perfect storm for some organic wordsmithing.

Back in the day, words like sweet or random didn’t decimate the English language. Why should I let a word like Webinar get in the way of my written expression? It’s not as if it’s Black Friday or anything. And if I feel a surge of creativity, shouldn’t I try and find ways make my words pop?  I just want to give back.

I’m not becoming emotional, Lake Superior State University.  This is the new reality. It is what it is.


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