Lists for word lovers . . . and haters

I regret that I’m late to the party, but after 35 years I’ve finally discovered Lake Superior State University’s annual banished words list.

The (then) PR director of LSSU, Home of the Unicorn Hunters, developed the first list of banished words in 1975 at a New Year’s Eve party (alcohol inspired?) and published it the following day. The list endures; it’s been issued annually ever since and LSSU has received tens of thousands of word nominations.

Favorite—or perhaps un-favorite words—for 2010 include czar and teachable moment. Others aren’t such stand-outs; they are simply specific to trendy Internet developments, such as unfriend, tweet and similar tech talk.

The website is delightful. You can view every word posted since the beginning (though due to some quirks, some of the words are not visible without going to the “poster” view.)

It’s surprising how old some of my “favorites” are. Rocket scientist and end result date back to the 1991 list. Been there, done that is on the 1996 list. Makes me feel like a dinosaur!

But wait. Dinosaur isn’t even on the list. Maybe I should submit it.

Speaking of words, here’s a page one advisory from Friday’s Wall Street Journal. The “in” job title in Silicon Valley is ninja. A ninja originally was a feudal Japanese warrior. According to the WSJ, they “were skilled in espionage, traveled in disguise and often employed stealth fighting techniques many centuries ago.”

This label is overtaking guru (“so Web 1.0”) and evangelist.

Now off to another vocabulary sort of topic: what women who are self-designated experts call themselves. I’ve been seeing goddess, queen and diva for years but I happily sense that fewer women are newly claiming such designations lately. (Maybe all the relevant domain names are taken.)

I’ve never seen a man who labeled himself as basket-weaving god or law of attraction king. Except for the Burger King, truly the creepiest character on TV lately. As for a male diva, preliminary research suggests that if there is such a thing, he may call himself a divo.

Comments?

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2 responses to “Lists for word lovers . . . and haters

  1. The banished words list is hilarious; I’ve followed it for years. Something else you might enjoy is the annual Bulwer-Litton writing contest (http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/).

  2. Cathey, your suggestion led me astray. So now I’m finally commenting on your comment. Yes, love the Bulwer-Litton winners.

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