FOR THE WEEK OF JAN. 05, 2009
'Maverick', 'Green' and 'Bailout' top the list of words banished for overuse in 2008
Look up the word cliché in the dictionary and determine how many of this year's banished words fit the definition. Can you find any examples of clichés in today's newspaper?
Which popular phrases are already headed for overuse this year? Can you find examples from the newspaper?
Reading critically is a skill you need to hone. Watch for tired and thoughtless wording in columns, blogs and even news stories. Quotes from players and managers in Sports sections are particularly prone to clichés. "We have to play our own game." "He always gives 110 percent." Make a list and indicate how you would reword to avoid the clichés.
Lake Superior State University has issued its 34th annual "List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness" Had enough of Maverick? It's on the list. Are you tired of all things "Green" including "Going Green," "Green Technology," and "Green Solutions?" The concept of "Green" drew the most nominations.
The economy foisted the word "bailout" on us. Do we like it? Not so much. In fact, the overused phrase "Not so much" also made the list. Will you stop using that phrase now that it's achieved this dubious distinction?
Every presidential election produces its own catchphrases -- handy little words and slogans championed by White House hopefuls, their supporters and detractors. Some, like "It's the economy, stupid," and "You're no Jack Kennedy" survive and become part of our popular and political culture. Others, thankfully, fade quickly. "Joe the Plumber," "Obama Girl" and "Bridge to Nowhere" have already faded and didn't even make the LSSU list this year. Will "Maverick" fade now that it's on the list? You betcha. (In fact, why didn't "You betcha" get banned, too?)
Here are some select comments from the announcement at http://www.lssu.edu/banished/current.php.
MAVERICK: "The constant repetition of this word for months before the US election diluted whatever meaning it previously had. Even the comic offshoot 'mavericky' was terribly overused. A minimum five-year banishment of both words is suggested so they will not be available during the next federal election." Matthew Mattila, Green Bay, Wisc.
BAILOUT: "Use of emergency funds to remove toxic assets from banks' balance sheets is not a bailout. When your cousin calls you from jail in the middle of the night, he wants a bailout." -- Ben Green, State College, Penn.
WALL STREET/MAIN STREET: "When this little dyad first came into use at the start of the financial crisis, I thought it was a clever use of parallelism. But it's simply over-used. No 'serious' discussion of the crisis can take place without some political figure lamenting the fact that the trouble on Wall Street is affecting 'folks' on Main Street." -- Charles Harrison, Aiken, SC.
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