Saturday, January 05, 2008

Banishably Awful Words

Well, I've been knocked down with a rather bad cold/unnamed infection this week. I stayed home from work today. In between bouts of lying in bed coughing and sniffling, and lounging on the couch wheezing and sneezing (as Gurgi would say), I spent a little time fannying about on the Internet.

And what did I come across but one of my very favourite annual lists! The Lake Superior University list of "Words Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness". A for-fun-only list of words that people nominate throughout the year.

Have a look at the list here. And, dig back through past lists here.

Bear in mind that this is an American list, so we don't see all of these words overmuch in Canada, but we get enough American news and television here that most of them are part of our common parlance as well.

One of my favourite entries is this:

"EMOTIONAL -- "Reporters, short on vocabulary, often describe a scene as 'emotional.' Well sure, but which emotion? For a radio reporter to gravely announce, 'There was an emotional send off to Joe Blow' tells me nothing, other than the reporter perceived that the participants acted in an emotional way. For instance: I had an emotional day today. I started out feeling tired and a bit grumpy until I had my coffee. I was distraught over a cat killing a bird on the other side of the street. I was bemused by my reaction to the way nature works. I was intrigued this evening to add a word or two to your suggestions. I was happy to see the words that others had posted. Gosh, this has been an emotional day for me." -- Brendan Kennedy, Quesnel, British Columbia, Canada."

Ha. So true.


In the spirit of this great list, I would like to banish a few words of my own.

IMPACT - as a verb - When did this become a verb? What does it really mean as a verb? I enjoy verbing words as much as the next girl, but only for comedic effect or to drive home a piece of overdrawn hyperbole. This one should never be a verb except when discussing wisdom teeth and the occasional bowel issue. Otherwise - not a verb people!
Also deserving of special note here is impactful. I still don't really know what this one means.

ORIENTATE - You can have an orientation, you can orient yourself or something. But what exactly is orientate? How does one manage to take part in orientating?

LITERALLY - but when they don't mean literally. Like "it was literally raining cats and dogs". Well. But no. It was not literally raining cats and dogs - it was raining hard. The other is an idiom, which already gets across the point you're trying to make with the literally. So. Not only is it a misuse of the word, it is also a redundancy.

INTERFACE - as a verb - as in "we need to sit down and interface on this". Really? I think what you really need to do is sit down and chat or converse, or even maybe discuss the subject.


And then, a few of my currently most hated phrases:

AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME - or you could just say "now".

FREE GIFT (with purchase or at the door) - again with the redundancy. If it isn't free, it isn't a gift.

AT THE END OF THE DAY - to mean the same as "in the long run"? Ack.

There are likely many others that I haven't thought of right at the moment. But that's a choice few.

1 comment:

ru said...

can you even imagine the horror if it were to literally rain cats and dogs?!

then again, such a storm might be a good time to finally rid oneself of a tiresome pet!