Starting in 1976, staff members at Lake Superior State University in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula have collected nominations from people who are fed up with what they consider abuse of the language.
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And a lot of people are fed up – spokesman Peter Szatmary says they received more than 1,500 nominations for the latest list. And they came from the US and around the world – not just from where you’d expect, say England and Australia, but also Belgium, Trinidad and Tobago, China, and Namibia – Namibia ?.
And number one on the list is the acronym GOAT which stands for “greatest of all time.”
“As one of our nominators put it, GOAT is applied to everyone and everything from athletes to chicken wings. And if you think about it, how could anyone or anything be the greatest of all time anyway because time marches on, records fall. And several of our nominators were irked by how liberally this was sprinkled around like table salt on just about anyone who is really good.”
Next on the banned list is what used to be a mathematical term, “inflection point.”
“And one of our nominators pointed out it’s chronic throat-clearing from talking heads, historians, journalists, scientists et cetera. And that nominator said its ubiquity has driven me to an inflection point of throwing soft objects about whenever the nominator hears it. And another of our entrants said well it’s a pretentious way of saying “turning point.”
And when it comes to irritating, how about “it is what it is.”
“Our nominator reasons were everything from “well, duh” to “of course it is what it is, what else would it be, it would be weird if it wasn’t what it wasn’t.” And it’s an excuse not to deal with or accept responsibility or reality and in some instances it’s sort of dismissive and borderline rude.”
Szatmary says each year the banished list reflects current events, whether it’s political campaigns, wars, or the economy, and the entries often come from the talking heads on the all-news channels.
Other entries on the new list include “moving forward” – where else would we go, “absolutely” instead of just saying yes, and “amazing.”
“When you think about it not everything is amazing, very few things are. And our nominators said things like it’s a worn out adjective for people short on vocabulary.”
This is actually the second time – “amazing” was first banished in 2012.
Szatmary calls all of this “a serious joke.”
“We all would like to communicate clearly – sometimes we do, hopefully more times than not but sometimes, at least I, fall victim to mis-communication and this banished list is our serious joke attempt to get people to pay as close attention as they can to how they communicate and mis-communiate.”
To make a nomination for next year’s banished list go to lssu.edu/banishedwords. You can also find lists of all the words and phrases dating back to 1976, by year or alphabetically.