Saturday, January 4, 2014

Banned Words for 2014 from Retirement Sparks

January is the time for the annual lists of banned words and phrases. This marks the third year that I’ve been publishing my own compendium. I put my list together in mid-November, and it turns out my first three entries also top the annual list just released by Michigan’s Lake Superior State University. Their order is different, but we agree on the three words we’d most like to hear less (or none) of in 2014.

Number one on my list may surprise you. I don’t want to hear ‘hashtag’ anymore. I’m content to have people use hashtags. I don’t even mind seeing the # symbol. I’m just weary of hearing the word. We’ll need something to replace it when we speak, so I’ve created a substitute. Since the hashtag has historically been referred to as the number sign, let’s call it the NuSi. It should take a few years before that gets annoying enough to show up in my annual post.

 ‘Selfie’ is next. Oxford Dictionaries declared it the 2013 “Word of the Year” because of its meteoric rise in use, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it. I’d be happy if we not only stopped using it, but we also stopped taking them. I know: not gonna happen, but a girl can dream. And BTW, my list was created before the Pope and Obama posed for their infamous year-end selfies.

Close behind, and no surprise, are ‘twerk’ and ‘twerking.’ (These count as one entry, for those who are keeping track.) As with selfie, my hope is that people not only stop saying this, they also stop doing it. I have only a slightly better chance of that happening than I do seeing an end to the photo behavior. With twerking, some equally repulsive move could replace it in 2014. (Remember: ‘Gangnam Style’ was on last year’s list.)

Can we also do without ‘bromance’? It may be popular in some circles, but I never hear anyone singing: “A fine bromance, with no kisses; A fine bromance, my friend, this is.” That's likely due to the unstated understanding that a bromance would never involve kisses. Frankly, I’m not sure what it involves or doesn’t involve, other than being annoying. A guy can appreciate the qualities and appeal of another guy without needing to slap a label on what he thinks or feels. Oorah!

In the interest of equal time for the opposite sex, let’s also do away with ‘bestie,’ the latest patois for ‘best friend.’ It alternates with BFF (Best Friends Forever), but BFF doesn’t make that nails-on-the-blackboard sound that bestie does. Besides, bestie originated as slang from the Brits. Not an export they’re likely proud of. It’s probably barely ahead of Marmite and haggis.

Moving on to politically-based candidates (words and phrases, that is), ‘Tea Party’ (the label, not the political perspective) has no place in Congress. I’m fine with ‘conservative’ and ‘libertarian,’ but ‘Tea Party’ has become far too polarizing. Let the Mad Hatters fend for themselves as individuals who hold strong beliefs, or as members of more traditional coalitions. But fie on letting them find shelter using the Tea Party label. It’s become an anathema even to most Republicans.

As we say goodbye to Tea Party, let’s also say ta-ta to ‘brinksmanship.’ Use it, and I’ll tune out before the third syllable rolls off your tongue. I’m tossing it onto the lexicographic dust heap, along with ‘hostage.’ These words (and concepts) have no place in Congress. If we have to ban them to get our elected officials to stop engaging in this behavior and to have the Media stop celebrating it, so be it.

I’m also so over ‘fumble,’ as in ‘fumble the rollout’ or ‘fumble the ball.’ What happened with the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) was so beyond a fumble that we need to call it something else. How about a disaster?

Speaking of disasters, I’d really like to not hear ‘natural disaster’ anymore. Note to God: please don’t send us any in 2014, so we won’t need to use this phrase. That’s probably too much to expect. I have no suggestions for what else to call these when they happen, but I wanted to include this phrase on principle and in a spirit of optimism.

Okay, let’s not count ‘natural disaster’ among my ten. That means I need one more. Let’s give up the phrase ‘turn the page.’ That’s pretty much what a lot of politicians are hoping we’ll do in 2014, but let’s not memorialize it in words. As Nike says, let’s “just do it.”

Those are my ten candidates that should not be uttered in mixed company in 2014. By mixed company, I mean by anyone else when I’m in the room.

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