WORDS, WORDS, WORDS
Lake Superior State in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan has issued its 2003 Banished Words List
. While I generally am willing to be a snob when a new "Where's the Beef" sweeps the nation, I have some issues with the words chosen below. See the link for THEIR commentary. See below for mine. Hit "back" for neither.
Selected items from their 2003 list:
MUST-SEE TV: Wasn't this NBC's tag line in like 1999? Do they still even use it? How can this be banished if nobody uses it?
UNTIMELY DEATH: Seems redundant until it happens to you, I guess.
BLACK ICE: This is different from regular ice because (a) it is extraordinarily slippery, and (b) it is almost impossible to see on a road at night. I would have thought Lake Superior State folks would know that, but I do notice MANY Michiganders in the ditches when I drive there in winter. Many more than in the Chi, or even Ill-ini land.
HOMELAND SECURITY: Good luck banning this one. No government since the Iron Curtain speech has found a more useful phrase, and Lake Superior State isn't getting rid of it.
NOW, MORE THAN EVER: Ban it. People use it to make smarmy points to make you feel guilty about not buying a car or toaster since WTC came down.
BRANDING: Ban the practice, not the word.
THERE IS NO SCORE: I agree with the smarty-asses who say that there IS a score, and it is 0-0. However, they are smarty-asses and the fact is that we commonly treat 0-0 as a score only when it is a final. Worse, with some of the terrible sports announcers out there, I think we should ban other words LONG before this one. For instance, anything that Bill Walton says should be banned.
____ IN COLOR: HA! HA! HA! HA! This one IS terrible. "Red in color" as opposed to red in size, weight, or orientation is stoopid. Not only ban this one, but kill people who say it.
UNDISCLOSED, SECRET LOCATION: The brain trust at Lake Superior State claims this is redundant. "Undisclosed" means I have not told you, not that it is a secret. My car is parked in an undisclosed location, but hundreds of people see it. A secret location is one unknown to the public, as opposed to simply untold to you. Right now the president is in an undisclosed location (to me), but it may not be a location that is a secret at all. Idiots.
The really sad thing is that Lake Superior State has all of their banned words in a single list
and "upsurge" did not make the list.
The other interesting thing about this list is trying to determine the most hated word. For instance, there are 19 words that have been banned twice (which has its own metaphysical issues, since these bans appear to be forever). For pure longevity, "very unique" (1983, 2002) obviously deserves to be on the list of most hated, with an incredible 19 years between bannings. "Ongoing" (1984, 1986, 1993) was been banned three times in less than a decade, as has "basically" (1984, 1986, 1993). However, the term that makes the best claim for most hated is a combination of "live audience" (1983, 1987, 1990), and "filmed before a live studio audience" (1983, 1987, 1990). They hated it so much they banned it twice.
Finally, if they ever do a list of words and terms that need to be added to English, I nominate the clothing size "extra medium" from the Snoop/Dre epic The Wash
. It is one of the only funny things in that movie.
I am from the Chi. That means that when I think of poetry, I think of Carl Sandburg before any other poet. He's like the hometown slugger for poetry. Everybody knows at least part of the beginning of Sandburg's "Chicago:"
HOG Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders . . .
What you probably don't know is that if a computer translated that into French, it could read something like this:
Boucher de PORC pour le monde,
Fabricant d'outil, bac décaleur de blé,
Joueur avec les chemins de fer et le traiteur du fret de la nation ;
Orageux, enroué, se bagarrant,
Ville des grandes épaules . . .
In German it could look something like this:
SCHWEIN Metzger für die Welt,
Werkzeug-Hersteller, Stapler des Weizens,
Spieler mit Eisenbahnen und der Fracht-Zufuhr der Nation;
Stürmisch, heiser, keifend,
Stadt der grossen Schultern . . .
In Spanish, perhaps this:
Carnicero del CERDO para el mundo,
Fabricante de la herramienta, apilador del trigo,
Jugador con los ferrocarriles y el tratante de la carga de la nación;
Tempestuoso, fornido, peleándose,
Ciudad de los hombros grandes . . .
That a computer can render a group of words in one language into another is not news. The Google language tool does this for entire web pages without a (major) problem (usually). People still learn languages, in part, because these translations are often very bad. Thus, a computer translation of a poem is particularly likely to be awful. The shocking thing is that a web page dedicated to Carl Sandburg
offers a link to this service. What are they thinking?
In any case, here is a little lesser known
Sandburg to put all language debates into context:
THERE are no handles upon a language
Whereby men take hold of it
And mark it with signs for its remembrance.
It is a river, this language,
Once in a thousand years
Breaking a new course
Changing its way to the ocean.
It is mountain effluvia
Moving to valleys
And from nation to nation
Crossing borders and mixing.
Languages die like rivers.
Words wrapped round your tongue today
And broken to shape of thought
Between your teeth and lips speaking
Now and today
Shall be faded hieroglyphics
Ten thousand years from now.
Your song dies and changes
And is not here to-morrow
Any more than the wind
Blowing ten thousand years ago.
I read that the three major US burger chains announced that there had been no decrease in burger sales since Tuesday's announcement of a cow with mad cow disease in the United States. It took me a minute to figure out the relation, since I have been assuming for years that there is no actual beef in any of their burgers.