Lake Superior State University recently issued its annual list of words and phrases that should, in its opinion, be summarily banished from popular usage. “Mis-use, over-use and general uselessness” are the rationales. Among the language pariahs are “9-11” shorthand for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, as well as “friendly fire,” “surgical strike,” “bring the evildoers to justice,” “in the wake of,” “synergy” and “faith-based.”
In the wake of that noble effort, let’s call in surgical strikes against a few other words and phrases that flat-out need sacking — and retrofitting others to a sensible context.
“Awesome.” Remember when it meant wonder inspired by something sublime or maybe majestic? No longer. Mundane rules. As in “Your (sweatpants, slip covers, Barry Manilow CDs) are ‘awesome.'”
“Man.” As in “Hey, (I choose not to use, acknowledge or learn your name) ‘man,’ how’s your (wife, portfolio, golf game)?'”
“Football.” At all costs, including linguistic numbness, avoid confusing with any other sport. As in “Anytime these two outstanding ‘football’ teams get together, you’re going to see a well played, tough ‘football’ game because both ‘football’ teams have superb head ‘football’ coaches and talented ‘football’ players who know what to do with the ‘football’ and what to do when the other ‘football’ team has the ‘football.'”
“Blue Collar.” As in “He (white athlete) is one of those ‘blue collar’ players. He won’t beat you with his athleticism, but he’s like a coach on the field. He gets the most out of his (melanin-challenged) ability.”
“Warrior.” As in “He makes millions of dollars to play a game, and yet even when his team is hopelessly behind, he still tries. What a ‘warrior.'”
“It’s not about Islam.” As in “This is a war against terrorism. ‘It’s not about Islam,’ but it is, disturbingly enough, about those who find it so easy to pervert Islam because the non-Islamic world is apparently nothing less than a nest of death-deserving infidels.”
“Profiling.” As in “I don’t care that it may be a function of common sense, national security and statistical relevance. Racial or ethnic ‘profiling’ is always wrong.”
“Reality TV.” As in “Even though everyone is well aware they are being taped, this really is ‘reality TV.'”
“Disenfranchisement.” As in “Too many people have died for the right to cast an uninformed vote, possibly more than once, for ‘disenfranchisement’ to be tolerated today.”
“The will of God.” As in even God, presumably, would find this faith-based phrase presumptuous.
“The Man Upstairs.” As in “I want to thank ‘The Man Upstairs’ for helping us win this game.” Blasphemously presumes skewed earthly priorities for the Deity.
“Like, you know.” As in “What’s, ‘like,’ not to like, ‘you know?'” OK, it’s a gimme, but we’ve been far too tolerant of this patois parasite. The palaver police continue to look the other way.
“Whatever.” Shibboleth for edgy, non-commitment. As in
Q: “Son, your mother and I would like you to be on time for Christmas dinner; at least acknowledge your grandparents; refrain from commentary that only references that which “sucks;” defer any more piercings until after the holidays; and save that rapper ensemble for non-family occasions.”
“Bottom Line.” As in “‘Bottom line,’ give it back to the CPAs, even Arthur Andersen.”
“You guys.” As in “Good evening; my name is Paul; I’ll be your server; and welcome to Jean Claude’s, home of romantic, gourmet dining. So, what can I start ‘you guys’ off with?”
“Rap artist.” Bottom line, this, like, gives oxymoron a bad name, you know.
“Star.” Nothing beyond the celestial. Entertainment celebrities are not “stars,” although many do inhabit their own universe.
“Role model.” Athletes don’t count. Some, in fact, can’t.
“Ethnocentric.” Relativist, cultural catchall that doesn’t leave wiggle room for that which is absolutely wrong — say, genital mutilation or evil acts in the name of religion.
“Been there, done that.” Wherever you’ve been, whatever you’ve done. No one cares. Even if you got the T-shirt.
“Dis.” Show some respect for the language. It’s not a word; but do keep it as a syllable.
“HELL-oooooo.” Good byyyye to trite, melodramatically whiny, stressed-syllable tampering.
“PUHH-lease.” See above. Please.
“No problem.” Only problematic as a response to “thank you.” Proper response is “you’re welcome.” Thank you.
“Close proximity, “totally destroyed,” “general consensus.” Bring these evildoers of redundancy to justice.
“Near miss.” That would be a Mrs.; otherwise, it’s a collision.
“Cancelled.” Call off this spelling; in fact, consider it “canceled.”
“Remains to be seen.” Doesn’t it always?
“Jerry Springer, Rosie O’Donnell, Al Sharpton, Alan Dershowitz, Maury Povich, the Glazers, Geraldo Rivera, Jesse Jackson, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Bill O’Reilly, Sterling Sharpe, Howard Stern, Mike Tyson.” Because it’s my list.