Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Lake Superiority Complex

The annual Lake Superior State Banished Words list is up. It's always a great way to get my eye-rolling started for the year.

If you want the link, Google™ it. It deserves no direct traffic from my 7 readers.

Here is the list, followed by one or two comments from those who cherish the peeve-fest; that followed by my snarky responses.

"Do I really need a reason? Well, if so how about this: I just saw it in tandem with 'cyber-ready' and nearly choked on my coffee. It's starting the '-ready' jargon. Makes me 'vacation-ready.'" – Karen Hill, Ann Arbor, Mich.

It's starting the jargon? That must explain the cable-ready T.V. we had back in the 80's, and the Roast-ready rib cited from 1926 by the OED.

"In the lexicon of the political arena, this word is supposed to mean obvious or easily understood. In reality, political transparency is more invisible than obvious!" -- Deb Larson, Bellaire, Mich.

I suppose you'd also like to banish the words honesty trustworthiness and accountability because those politicians are so undeserving of them.

And for what it's worth, in the lexicon of the political arena the words actually refer to policies of full disclosure, not necessarily ease of understanding. How about criticizing only words you know?

"We have appointed a czar of such-and-such; clearly that's better than a 'leader,' 'coordinator' or 'director'! -- Derek Lawrence, Thunder Bay, Ont.

When pressed for space, yes: czar is much better than those words. The official titles have used such terms as Director, Coordinator , Administrator, Advisor, Assistant Secretary, Special Representative, Counselor, Chairman, and many many more words that you'd love. But headlines don't love such long words. And neither would you if you had to write them.

"People tweet and retweet and I just heard the word 'tweet' so many times it lost all meaning.” – Ricardo, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico.

And I have read complaints like these so many times…

"Is there an 'app' for making this annoying word go away? Why can't we just call them 'programs' again?" – Kuahmel Allah, Los Angeles, Calif.

Because you would complain about that word and would whine about how we should call them mathematical tasks designed for solution by the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer.

"Any dangerous new trend that also happens to have a clever mash-up of words, involves teens, and gets television talk show hosts interested must be banished." – Ishmael Daro, Saskatoon, Sask., Canada.

I'm going to banish rock-and-roll next.

FRIEND (verb)
"'Befriend' is much more pleasant to the human ear and a perfectly useful word in the dictionary." – Kevin K., Morris, Okla.

Tho it doth spleet the ears of the groundlings, friend is in the dictionary. And it was used by Shakespeare. Probably not in relation to Facebook tho because his dictionary hadn't yet given him permission. Can I use it if I make sure to whisper it when you're around?

"It's a condescending substitute for 'opportunity to make a point,'" says Eric Rosenquist of College Station, Tex.

And this is a condescending substitute for reasonable discussion of language.

"Overused and redundant. Aren't ALL times 'these economic times'?" -- Barb Stutesman, Three Rivers, Mich.

Why do you think we have to use the phrase so much?!

"What next, can I go down to the local bar and down a few drinks and call it a stimulus package?" – Richard Brown, Portland, Ore.

My guess is your package has very little to do with stimulation.

"Whatever happened to simply 'bad stocks,' 'debts,' or 'loans'?" -- Monty Heidenreich, Homewood, Ill.

They were bought-out by Richard Brown's round of drinking.

"Does such a thing exist? We'll never know if a company is too big to fail, unless somehow it does fail, and then it will no longer be too big to fail. Make it stop!" – Holli, Raleigh, NC.

Duuude. And what if you could, like, design a flashlight that was powered by its own light? It would be like time travel, man.

"I am sick of combined words the media creates to make them sound catchier. Frenemies? Bromances? Blogorrhea? I'm going to scream!" – Kaylynn, Alberta, Canada.

You hear that, media? We humans are on to you!

"A made-up word used by annoying Gen-Yers." – Chris Jensen, Fond du Lac, Wisc.

I hate made up words. When will these Gen-Yers learn to reap them naturally from the soil like the not-at-all-annoying Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers.

OBAMA-prefix or roots?
The LSSU Word Banishment Committee held out hope that folks would want to Obama-ban Obama-structions, but were surprised that no one Obama-nominated any, such as these compiled by the Oxford Dictionary in 2009: Obamanomics, Obamanation, Obamafication, Obamacare, Obamalicious, Obamaland….We say Obamanough already.

Ok, Obama-structions follows the template of a morpheme meaning that something is done in a style related to or characterized by Obama's platform or his manner, or the sensibilities of his supporters. But Obama-ban? That's Obama-tarded.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The night was dry, yet it was raining*

Jan Freeman's The Word blog has moved to a new perch. Gotta say, I like the name: Throw Grammar from the Train. Especially if said with a non-rhotic accent. But wait! Considering the addition of coda [ɹ] to word final [ə]—which addition is characteristic of some New England dialects—it can work either way.

Many years ago, when… say… John Kerry's accent was full of more regional markers, he might have pronounced grammar without the final [ɹ], and he might have pronounced grandma with the final [ɹ].

So— my pronunciation of the blog title sounds a lot like our young John Kerry saying "Throw Grandma from the train."

And— young John Kerry's pronunciation of the blog title sounds a lot like me saying "Throw Grandma from the train."

(This is of course supposing a quick pronunciation of grandma not as Grand -Ma but as gramma.)

* Not a meaningful post title. Just a quote from the movie, Throw Momma from the Train.
** The young Kerry I've created for this post, does indeed speak as I'm suggesting. That's the nice thing about historical fiction. The facts fit my needs.