Advice for the Confused

January 4, 2007

I’d never heard of Lake Superior State University until somebody sent me a link to its list of words nobody is supposed to use in 2007. Now that I’ve heard of them and read the list, I think the faculty needs to assign a whole lot more homework, because LSSU students have waaaaay too much free time on their hands if they’re compiling lists full of stuff like this:

GITMO — The US military’s shorthand for a base in Cuba drives a wedge wider than a split infinitive. “When did the notorious Guantanamo Bay Naval Base change to ‘Gitmo,’ a word that conjures up an image of a fluffy and sweet character from a Japanese anime show?” — Marcus W., St. Louis, Missouri.

Because “Gitmo” is the term the military itself uses. As we have come to learn that a great many of the prisoners being held there are not bloodthirsty terrorists, but hapless bystanders arrested by bounty-grubbing “allies” in the War On Terra, it deserves a continuing place in the lexicon as shorthand for abuse of power.

Next case:

COMBINED CELEBRITY NAMES — Celebrity duos of yore — BogCall (Bogart and Bacall), Lardy (Laurel and Hardy), and CheeChong (Cheech and Chong) — just got lucky. “It’s bad enough that celebrities have to be the top news stories. Now we’ve given them obnoxious names such as ‘Bragelina,’ ‘TomKat’ and ‘Bennifer.'” — M. Foster, Port Huron, Michigan. “It’s so annoying, idiotic and so lame and pathetic that it’s ‘lamethetic.'” — Ed of Centreville, Virginia.

The answer to this problem, M. Foster of Port Huron and Ed of Centreville, is to stop reading so much freaking People magazine and turn off Access Hollywood. If you encounter these names so often that they enrage you this way, you need to upgrade your reading and viewing habits. I recommend you both spend some quality time with a couple of hefty Russian novels. After a few weeks of getting your brain around names like Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky, “Bennifer” will make your eyes mist over with nostalgic tears.

Any other patients? Oh, right:

TRUTHINESS – “This word, popularized by The Colbert Report and exalted by the American Dialectic Society’s Word of the Year in 2005 has been used up. What used to ring true is getting all the truth wrung out of it.” — Joe Grimm, Detroit, Michigan.

Joe, as long as George W. Bush continues to clutter up the White House, “truthiness” will be necessary for political discussions. You get off with just a warning this time because I liked your wordplay with “ring true” and “truth wrung,” but next time I may just have to put you through the wringer.

Here’s a beaut:

SEARCH — Quasi-anachronism. Placed on one-year moratorium. “Might as well banish it. The word has been replaced by ‘google.'” — Michael Raczko, Swanton, Ohio.

Michael, when I see news stories in which rescuers go googling for lost hikers and missing mountaineers, I’ll concede your point. Meanwhile, I hope your suggestion doesn’t get you in trouble with the trademark police, those mean people who are paid to box the ears of journalists who treat product names as verbs.

Here endeth the lesson.


4 Responses to “Advice for the Confused”

  1. Bill Bowman Says:

    “Google-and-Rescue”? I don’t think so.

    “We’re now out of the google phase, and, regrettably, have begun the body recovery stage.” Nope.

    “And now, singing their hit ‘Love Potion No. 9,’ it’s The Googlers!” Nah.

  2. Charles Says:

    Where the fark have you been, Steven?

    “Gitmo” was necessary than and is necessary now. That word symbolizes the increasingly Nazi-like conduct of George W. Bush.

    “Bennifer” has been a dead letter for almost 3 1/2 years. Ever heard of “Gigli”?

    FWIW Lake Superior State University is in Sault Ste. Marie and has a pretty good hockey team.

  3. Nordette Says:

    Did you see the new word of the year, 2006, chosen by American Dialect Society? Plutoed.

    To “pluto” is “to demote or devalue someone or something,” much like what happened to the former planet last year when the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union decided Pluto didn’t meet its definition of a planet.
    Per news report.

    This word will come in pretty handy. 😉


  4. Gail Says:

    The students do not in fact put together the list of bannished words. They are chosen from submissions from all over the world.

    We at Lake State do not come up with all the words to be bannished….we simply compile and publish. 🙂

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