A blog post by Stan Carey, scientist/writer/editor/"swivel-chair linguist"* began to do the rounds today. "The problem with banning words" reflects on the propensity of pedants and snarks to plant the flag of their preferences on the language at large.
It's a good article, and certainly worthy of the time of those of you interested in writing, language, and how and why we communicate (contextual motivation having a lot to do with the words and constructions we choose).
Still, at the risk of being curmudgeonly ourselves, we, too, have nominated the odd word or phrase for banishment -- most recently, "reach out" when one means contact/speak to/communicate with.
On the one hand, we recognize that language is ever-evolving in ways that are organic and, really, quite wonderful. There are, however, some evolutionary false-starts, dead-ends and downright bad seeds that will inevitably crop up along the way. Railing against some of these -- especially by those of us who care enough to get upset about them -- is also natural and, we think, quite appropriate.
That said, use of the word "awesome," (which, incidentally, was the catalyst for Mr. Carey's post) makes us smile, tag the statement #NPH and #Legendary, and move along with our day!
Even the overused has its little niche.
* "swivel-chair linguist" -- great phrase, that!
We must declare a moratorium on the use of the phrase "reach out" when what is meant is "talk," "contact," or "communicate."
There are plenty of words and phrases that are actual synonyms, so this one will not be missed.
What will also not be missed is the vaguely self-congratulatory air that it conveys, as if establishing contact were some heroic act. Inflating the initial stage out of all proportion also buries the lead, as the next information conveyed is usually the result of the contact in question. Come to the point quickly and spare readers/listeners a window into the mechanics.
We also recommend the Lake Superior State University Banished Words List Facebook Page and the website where you may submit your own nominees for banishment!
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Christie Manussier, principal Writer and Polisher, is the usual news reporter.
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