Friday, January 2, 2015

Banned Words and Phrases for 2015

January is the time for satirists to publish their annual lists of banned words. It’s my fourth year providing this service, and my 2015 list also includes phrases. As in past years, some words on my list turned up in other collections, too.

In 2015, I’m saying sayonara to Bucket, as in Bucket List and Ice Bucket Challenge. I’ve often bemoaned the fact that I don’t have a bucket list, but I still haven’t taken the time to make one. This year will likely be no different, so I’d rather just avoid that phrase altogether. Lists are still OK (I’d die without them); just not bucket ones.

As for the Ice Bucket Challenge, fundraisers will need to come up with something new this year. I’m cutting off the Gatorade Bucket Challenge at the pass. Ditto for any bucket challenge, for that matter. If you want to force your friends and relatives to part with their hard earned cash, how about a Tar and Feathers Challenge?

The second B-word banned in 2015 is Booty. It pains me to split with this delightfully evocative noun. Unfortunately others have overused it to the point where I need to leave it behind me. And put it in everyone else’s rearview mirror, too. Don’t worry, though; you can still talk about butts. And bums. Just not booties. Bummer.

Now that midyear elections are over, I’m done hearing Deep Dive, as in: deep dive into voting results. You can thank Florida Congressman Debbie Wasserman Schultz for this. In the marketing department at Colgate Palmolive we often said: “Figures don’t lie; liars figure.” Wasserman Schultz took it a step further by diving so deep into the data behind the 2014 election that she concluded the Democrats actually prevailed. Go figure.

Another political term we can do without in 2015 is Optics. Buzzword tells us this is “the way a situation looks to the general public.” But it’s really the way politicians want the public to see it. This is ironic, since the dictionary meaning of optics has to do with light and vision, while the political one has to do with obfuscation.

One of my pet peeves is the use of the word So to start a sentence. Virtually everyone does it. Since almost no one seems to understand the correct use of that word, I’ve decided to just ban it. So there. Similar to this is the gratuitous use of Sure as a prelim to the reply to a question, but I’m not counting that as one of my ten this year. Just sayin’.

There are two phrases I’d like to ban by eliminating the need to use them. The first is Abundance of Caution. This landed on my list because of some top news stories of 2014. The fear of homegrown terrorist attacks inspired by Isis led to many over-zealous reactions, including flight delays, bridge closings and social media sites scrubbed. Then there was the debacle surrounding Sony’s motion picture “The Interview.” These reactions pale in comparison to steps taken in response to the Ebola scare in the US.

Mayor Brad Sellers of Warrensville Heights, OH closed City Hall because the husband of a city employee was on a flight with a health worker who later tested positive for Ebola. Sellers put the city workers on leave while the building was thoroughly cleaned by an outside company. Remember Chicken Little?

Directly related to the previous ban is the one on Inadvertent Breach of Protocol. Ebola burned this so deeply into the news that I grind my teeth whenever I hear the phrase. I’d flinch at a deliberate breach, too, but you never hear that.

Also on my not again radar is EITs. If someone is compelled to tell us anything more about Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, have him replace that acronym with the word "torture" or with the name of the actual technique (water boarding, sleep deprivation, etc.) Better yet, just stop using those methods.

I’m also tired of Proportional. In mathematics, we understand that has to do with ratios. But when we’re talking retaliation to another entity’s actions, people rarely know what it means. In press conferences we take proportional to mean the speaker doesn’t know yet what the plans are, or he doesn’t want to share them. When someone says they’re going to respond “in kind,” we assume it will be a tit for tat. But proportional? Who can say? Because everything’s relative after all.

Finally, can we please deep six the word Vortex (as in Polar) this year? I don’t know what alternatives weathermen have, but they’ll need to come up with something. Every time I hear vortex, my head spins. I have enough issues with balance at my age without external provocation.

So be it for 2015.

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