Friday, January 2, 2015

Hated Words Are Worth Hating.

The list of words deemed most
obnoxious for 2014.  
Every year, I give a big cheer to Lake Superior State University, who around New Year's Eve, release what they call their list of "words banished from the Queen's English for mis-use, over-use andgeneral uselessness."

The 2014 list did not disappoint.

LSSU "celebrate" the torture we all experienced hearing about that "cra-cra" "polar vortex" in which we must "curate" speakers "bae" who have the "skill set" to "hack" ways to deal with "foodies" who can't manage their "swag" in such cold conditions because they didn't get a good "takeaway"

To translate the above sentence,  We dealt with a crazy cold snap and gathered speakers to talk about it before anyone else. Those speakers have the skills to give us tips on dealing with fans of food who can't manage their nice gifts because they didn't understand from previous experience how to do it.

A common theme among the words we should banish is that they are jargon. With the possible exception of "cra-cra," they are pretty much all jargon.

All these catch phrase words were promoted by stupid people who wanted to pretend to be smart. And pretentious. Then the curated, uh, sorry, freshly chosen new words were picked up by the general public, half mockingly, I'm sure. Then, unconsciously, since it seemed everybody was saying these words, the rest of us had to join the fun.

The word "curate" really sticks in my craw. The word was once limited to choosing what would be the best stuff to put in a high end art gallery or museum.  You're special and important if you "curate," so the hucksters and marketers want us to believe that if we're dealing with whatever crap they're selling, we "curate" it.

People apparently wanted to be part of the pretentiousness of the curating scene, so any time you gather anything, even dog poop from the lawn, or lint from your belly button, you are apparently "curating."

The word "hack" is meant to make you sound cool and edgy and crafty and mysterious. Like some sexy, trendy and stylishly geeky computer guy or gal.

Of course, the word "hack" just means helpful tips, like household cleaning guidance with Hints From Heloise.

I guess if I've found a better way to clean out the mold sticking to the butter compartment in my refrigerator, I'm as much of a hacker as the people who broke into Sony's computer system.

The weather jargon involved in "polar vortex" really drove me and everyone nuts. Me, especially since I'm a weather geek.

"Polar vortex" used to be a perfectly fine pair of words. It referred to a circulation of very cold air that almost always wanders around the Arctic, or points nearby.

Last January, however, the damn polar vortex drifted too far south, like it sometimes does, close to the media maw of the northeastern United States.

Some weather forecaster with perfect TV hair somewhere mentioned it, and we all went into a tizzy because the "polar vortex" was making us put on our long underwear and ear muffs.

From then on, anytime someone somewhere felt even vaguely chilly, we screamed Polar Vortex! Polar Vortex!

Somehow, I think they'll work in some cartoonish polar vortex type thing in the next Sharknado movie. Just because "polar vortex" so badly jumped the shark in 2014.

I'm sick of "foodie," too. Where I live in Vermont, we're blessed with a lot of awesome, innovative restaurants with an emphasis on fresh ingredients, products from local farms and a nice crunchy granola vibe.

Which means armies of "foodies" have invaded the state. Or, in plain English, people who like to eat. Like me.

Yes, I'll keep going to these nice restaurants and enjoying the dinners. But foodie, naw. As one of the commentators in the LSSU list of banned words, if you breathe air, are you an airie?

I've learned to stay away from some of the worst offenders. One of my jobs is to research conferences. One I found said for speakers, organizers "curated unique thought leaders," and one session offered "15 tips and tricks for community growth hacking."

That conference would make me sick enough to hack up a hairball. And curate it on the keynote speaker's podium, too.

Look, I sometimes fall into the bad habit of slipping into trendy jargon, too.

It's not like I object to new words, or new uses for existing words. The English language was never meant to be static. It changes as the needs, the worldview and the influence of the people who speak the language change.

Plus, the English language makes no sense, so why not make it worse by giving us misused words like "curate" and "hack"?

The rules of the English language have no consistency. We can have sunny days but not moony nights. Why aren't butterflies actually called "flutterbys" because that's what they do, right?

Why is it the dates are January fourth, fifth, sixth, etc, but we don't have January oneth, twoth or threeth? Why is it that in the summer, it can get hotter, but it can't get humider. It has to get "more humid."

Pick a method, for crissakes!

Yes, I feel some solidarity with the fine folks at Lake Superior State University, but it is a lost cause. Nobody will figure out this language we speak, and there will be a fresh supply of obnoxious buzzwords in 2015.

I think I'll just pull random letters out of the air and invent a buzzword. Here it is: "Xylvertese." I have no idea what it means yet.

Maybe you can come up with something.

No comments:

Post a Comment