Lamat R Hasan in New Delhi
The much-awaited list of banished words for 2007 is out. In its 32nd annual list Michigan's Lake Superior State University (LSSU) has banished "gitmo", "awesome", "now playing in theatres" and "i-anything" among others for their "mis-use, over-use and general uselessness".
LSSU, which "banishes" words each year, was the first to give a chance to word-watchers to target pet peeves from everyday speech and from other fields, including news, has been widely emulated by several portals. Other words banished in the 2007 list include "combined celebrity names" -- like the all-famous Brangelina and Tomkat. "It's so annoying, idiotic and so lame and pathetic that it's lamethetic!," says a contributor. "Gone/went missing", "pwn or pwned", "we're pregnant", "undocumented alien", "armed robbery/drug deal gone bad", "truthiness", "ask your doctor", "chipotle", "search", "healthy food" and "boasts" were other pet peeves of word watchers.
Through the years, LSSU has received thousands of nominations for its "all-time" list of banished words and phrases, which is now to set to touch 1,000. This year the website received over 4,500 nominations. In 2006, the university banished the all-famous "breaking news" because "once breaking news stopped presses, but now it's an intestinal condition brought about by eating dinner during newscasts".
The contributor, Michael Raczko of Ohio, said in his note to the website: "Now they have to interrupt my supper to tell me that Katie Holmes is pregnant."
The year before the most over-used and misused word seemed to be "embedded journalist", which was eventually banished. The website got nominations for this Iraq war phrase from across the globe. "I'm a journalist and until the war started, I'd never heard this term. In the interest of objectivity, journalists probably shouldn't be embedded with any organisation they regularly cover," wrote Ken Marten of Michigan to the website. Some other banned words and phrases that came straight from Iraq include "smoking gun" ("Let's give the 21-gun salute to this overused analogy," said a contributor); "shock and awe" ("I'm just waiting on 'Shock and Awe Laundry Soap'"); and "shots rang out".
It was during a New Year's party about three decades ago when LSSU's public relations director Bill Rabe and some colleagues "cooked up a whimsical idea to banish overused words and phrases" as a publicity gimmick. On January 1, 1976, Rabe took his first crack at it. Metrosexual, an urban male who pays too much attention to his appearance, was killed in 2005, after Fred Bernardin of Massachusetts, asked, "Aren't there enough words to describe men who spend too much time in front of the mirror?"
Phrases that have been ridiculed for their "uselessness" include - "place stamp here". A contributor wrote: "If I'm too stupid to figure out where to put the stamp, then paying the phone bill is probably the least of my worries."
In the same category fall "97 percent fat free", described as "adventures in delusion"; "an accident that didn't have to happen" - "Does this mean some accidents need to happen?" asked a contributor. Recent inventions like "wardrobe malfunction" ("It can't be the wardrobe's fault!"); "blog" (including blogger, blogged, blogging, blogosphere); "webinar" or web seminar ("Next we'll have a Dutch 'dunch'- bring your own lunch for a digital lunch meeting") and "zero percent financing" - have all been deleted from the LSSU dictionary.