The annual “List of Banished Words” from Lake Superior State University released earlier this year came across my desk this week. The first list was created by a few LSSU staff members at a New Year’s Eve party in 1976.
In its modern form, nominations are submitted to a university website throughout the year. An editor churns through the entries and the final list is made public early the next year.
As a person who spends many hours reading and writing and telling anyone who will listen that people in agriculture need to do a better job of using correct words and terms when sharing information, I get a chuckle out of many of the entries and a full-on belly laugh out of others. Although my own vocabulary is not rife with so-called banished words, I am guilty of using many.
I remember the first time I heard someone use an OTUS acronym when talking about the president of the United States, or POTUS. Admittedly, I have used that one, as well as the acronyms for First Lady, FLOTUS, and Supreme Court, SCOTUS. These acronyms made the “Banished Words” list for 2018.
Also on the list: the word “collusion” and the phrase “wrap my head around.” Most of us are sick and tired of the overuse of the word, and the phrase really makes no sense at all.
How many times have we heard that an upcoming election is “the most important election of our time?” Too many, according to a gentleman from Ozark, Arkansas, who submitted that phrase which was ultimately accepted as banished-word-list-worthy.
“Yeet,” which I had to look up, means to vigorously throw or toss, made the list as did “ghosting,” “litigate” and “wheelhouse.” “In the books,” “legally drunk” and “optic” have been deemed unacceptable for use in 2019.
Musician Eric Church sings about words he would kill if given the opportunity. “Never, regret, lonely, hate, disgrace, brokenness, heartbreak, upset, evil, vice and vile” are words he says you cannot unhear or unsay.
Words and phrases are so powerful. Remember when those all-knowing and all-seeing scientific intellectuals who write for British tabloids renamed bovine spongiform encephalopathy? BSE became “mad cow disease” overnight.
Many years ago, anti-animal agriculture crusaders dubbed any modern farm that produces meat, milk or eggs a “factory farm.” Today, many consumers believe that any farm they perceive as “big” where animals are raised mostly indoors — is a factory farm; and a factory farm is bad. Most consumers do not understand that many of these so-called factory farms are also family farms.
If given the opportunity to banish some words in 2019, which ones would you choose? Lead by example. Stop using derogatory nicknames for scientific terms and hopefully others in your family and those with whom you come in contact will do the same.