At least that is what Lake Superior State University leads one to believe is the case after reading its 36th annual list of words that are overused and misused. The list was compiled from nominations provided by 1,000 on-line submissions.
Ironically, many of the inappropriate words that are deemed appropriate to banish are derived from Internet usage. From the comments submitted to the Sault Ste. Marie-based university, the conclusion can be reached that the Internet has become the bane of the English language.
Many comments from those making submissions to the banned list of words are quite amusing, and demonstrate an adept grasp of linguistic subtlety when explaining why a certain word (many of which are compound nouns or phrases) should be banished from English usage.
Topping the list of banished words is viral, which Kaulmel Allah of Los Angeles, California, said is a “linguistic disease of a term” that “must be quarantined.”
“Events, photographs, written pieces and even occasional videos that attracted a great deal of attention once were simply highly publicized, repeated in news broadcasts, and talked about for a few days,” said Lawrence Mickel of Coventry, Connecticut. “Now, however, it is no longer enough to give such offerings their 15 minutes of fame, but they must be declared to ‘go viral.’
“As a result, any mindless stunt or vapid bit of writing is sent by its creators whirling about the Internet and, once whirled, its creators declare it (trumpets here) ‘viral!’ Enough already!”
Also on the university’s banished list is epic, fail, wow factor, a-ha moment, back story, BFF (Best Friends Forever), man up, refudiate, mama grizzlies, the American people, I’m just saying, and live life to the fullest (one of those great redundant phrases that sneak into usage from time to time) as well as the use of Facebook and Google as verbs.
Probably, one has to be an American and a fan of Sarah Palin to understand what “mama grizzlies” actually means. It was Palin who introduced the compound word to linguistically-challenged American people.
Here’s a brief explanation from Mark Carlson from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan; “Unless you are referring to a scientific study of Ursus arctos horribilis, this analogy of right-wing female politicians should rest in peace.”
Tim Blaney, Snoqualmie, Washington, used humour when he submitted epic for inclusion in the list: “Over-use of the word ‘epic’ has reached epic proportions.”
Kim U., Des Moines, Iowa, commented: “Cecil B. DeMille movies are epic. Internet fallouts and opinions delivered in caps-lock are not. ‘Epic fail,’ ‘epic win,’ ‘epic’ (noun) — it doesn’t matter; it needs to be banished until people recognize that echoing trite, hyperbolic Internet phrases in an effort to look witty or intelligent actually achieves the opposite.”
“Anything,” added Mel F, Dallas, Texas, “that this word describes in popular over-usage is rarely ever ‘epic’ in the traditional sense of being heroic, majestic, or just plain awe-inspiring.”
Palin made refudiate popular when she used this non-word in her Twitter feed. She defended the word in a subsequent Tweet, claiming English was a living language, and that Shakespeare also liked to coin new words. This justification is from a woman who also dreamed up “misunderestimate” and “wee-wee’d up.”
The many made-up utterances from Palin have undoubtedly caused the “Bard of Avon” to turn over in his grave in a paroxysm of disgust after Palin compared her illiterate efforts to his “epic” contributions to the English language.
“Adding this word to the English language simply because a part-time politician lacks a spell checker on her cell phone is an action that needs to be repudiated,” said Dale Humphreys from Muskegon, Michigan.
Of course, while refudiate is a non-word, refudiated is also a made-up word. The closest word in the English language is refute, which means “to prove the falsity or error of,” as well as “to rebut or repel by argument.” For example: “The Republicans should refute the statement by Palin that refudiate has a place in the English language alongside the words created by Shakespeare.”
Palin may have also confused her made-up word with the real word repudiate, which means to “disown, disavow, reject.” For example: “The Republicans should repudiate ‘mama grizzly’ Palin’s comment that her linguistic shortfalls deserve to be mentioned in the same breathe as Shakespeare's contribution to the English language.”
Daniel, from Carrollton, Georgia, decried the abuse of fail by America’s youth. “Whether it is someone tripping, a car accident, a costumed character scaring the living daylights out of a kid, or just a poor choice in fashion,”
Daniel commented, “these people drive me crazy thinking that anything that is a mistake is a ‘fail.’ They fail proper English.
“Fail is not a noun. It is not an adjective. It is verb,” he explained.
On the verb front, someone at sometime decided to transform the proper nouns Facebook and Google into words to indicate an action.
“Facebook is a great, addicting website. Google is a great search engine. However,” said Jordon of Waterloo, Ontario, “their use as verbs causes some deep problems. As bad as they are, the trend can only get worse, i.e., ‘I’m going to Twitter a few people, then Yahoo the movie listings and maybe Amazon a book or two.’”
Talk about an “a-ha moment!” Oops. That’s another banned term.
There is a good case to be made for discouraging the use of back story, since there already exists a “perfectly good word” that “has been in use for years,” according to Jeff Williams of Sherwood, Arizona. What’s the word? It’s history. For those unable to fathom this usage, simply using story can also suffice.
Wow factor, which is the cliché most often used on TV cooking shows and fashion shows, is a buzzword that deserves to be relegated to the garbage heap, according to Dan Muldoon from Omaha, Nebraska. “I miss the old days when ‘factor’ was only on the math-and-science menu,” he added.
Jay Leslie from Portland, Maine asked: “Can a woman ‘man-up,’ or would she be expected to ‘woman-up?’”
Good question. But we’ll have to turn to the world-of-made-up words resulting from Internet usage for an answer. Let me “Google” that and get back to you.