Friday, January 5, 2018

About That List Of Recently Released "Banished Words"

 Comedian Bill Maher exposed and skewered a politically correct language guide two and a half years ago.

It appears now that a university no one ever heard of (Lake Superior State University) has just released its 43rd annual list of words "banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness".  In media accounts of the release (e.g. "School Expels Tons of Words", The Denver Post, Dec. 31, p. 10A). the claim is made that it is "a tongue- in- cheek, nonbinding list of 14 words and phrases."  In other words, the school seeks to evade responsibility by portraying its list in a facetious, non-serious way. This way, there's less chance of being skewered for political correctness or verbal nannyism like Bill Maher did with a language guide issued by the University of New Hampshire in August, 2015.

But the fact is that the northern Michigan school knew what it was doing and attempted - as it has the previous 42 years - to make a point concerning the preferable use of language. They'd garner much more respect if they actually took ownership instead of trying to use the "tongue-in-cheek" trope to dodge being a target.

What are these words and phrases that have been banished?  The D. Post article lists a number of them as follows:

- "let me ask you this"

- "unpack"

- "impactful"

- "nothingburger"

- "tons"

- "dish"

-"drill down"

- "let that sink in"


- "on boarding/ off boarding"

-"hot water heater"

- "gig economy"

- "covfefe"

- "fake news"  (the top vote getter)

According to Lake Superior State spokesman John Shibley, "more words were expected" given the "divisive 2016 election and the deepening divisions in government and the U.S. electorate".

But as I pointed out in previous posts, one aim of language control in whatever guise - ''tongue-in-cheek" list or "more humanized language guide" -- is thought control.  It is an effort  to disparage and inhibit free expression, including emotional tone, of what people have experienced. In the case of the 2016 nightmare election, millions - according to the book 'The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump'- are suffering from forms of severe depression, PTSD and even bipolar disorder brought on by Trump's ascension to power and his chaotic rule. Psychiatrists are evidently doing a land office business trying to help many in the anti-Trump populace. These people's emotions are further triggered by certain speeches, references made by the Dotard or his hired sycophants like Sara Huckleberry Sanders.

Wifey is among these, and is still dealing with the raw emotions of a nation in the throes of Trumpism - led by a gaggle of assholes determined to tear down all regulations, and our democratic norms and institutions (including a free press), as they brainwash their clueless minions.  Yesterday while watching Maddow, she must have screamed and banged her fists into the side of her recliner at least 12 times in 40 minutes. "Look at this shit! Have you ever seen or heard the likes of this!"

Should she or millions of others be denied (or criticized in a snide way) for their use of stock words or phrases  in the course of emotional venting? I think not.  So no, there is or was no basis at all to  "increase" the list of banished words. If anything, in a toxic environment like the one we have now in the U.S. more verbal leeway ought to be permitted, not less.

If there is one phrase I do agree with on the list it is "fake news".  This is used by Trumpists and their followers to smear actual press reports, especially revelations of how Dotard and his cabal are destroying our Republic piece by piece.  For example, anything that now comes over the transom regarding Robert Mueller's investigation, is instantly pilloried as "fake news". In this way  the nation is being divided into two hostile camps and - as some have pointed out (e.g. in Bandy X. Lee's book on Trump's danger) in a manner not seen since the Civil War.  (I have also warned unless these two versions of reality are reconciled  among citizens we may see a 2nd Civil War.)

In fact, the other side of Foxite, fake news blaring nitwits have now even claimed Mueller is trying to engineer a "coup" against their little Dotard. Words like that can have real consequences in the real world, none of which are sanguine.

So, if in an atmosphere like this people are inclined to overuse a few words ("unpack") I have no problems.  Let me also add here that many of us in this toxic Trump environment will find our own ways to express our outrage - and yes, we need MORE outrage,  not less - as conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt recently tried to argue, e.g.

This again is merely a way for the Right's assorted hacks to try to control the (mainly Left) reaction and rightful outrage against the Trump Imperium. And no surprise it is especially directed at all the groups in the Resistance movement - now marching toward seizing back the House for the Dems in November.  What better way to do that than to depict  outrage as a kind of addictive pathology, as opposed to the  energy bearing  "fuel" that will ultimately bring down the Trumpite cabal? For me? I plan to keep my outrage amped up until all these bastards are gone, full stop.  What is that saying the Occupy movement often used?  "If you're not outraged then you're not paying attention".

And if you're not paying attention you're just citizen road kill. You could as well be one of those zombies on the "Walking Dead'.

In my own case, I express much of my outrage via my blog posts (check the previous post and links therein).  Because of the intensity with which I sometimes express myself I realize and understand that many posts - especially the political subset- are not for everyone. Indeed, wifey is unable to handle my political posts because they are "too intense".   So be it, but I am not about to change. For me it's a kind of therapy in Trump land, and I make no apologies. If you're unable to handle that then go to a poetry or puppy blog or "better homes and gardens".  I will never be writing or talking "through the flowers" to use the phrase of my sister-in-law Krimhilde.

 For the same reason I disdain the use of euphemisms which merely seek to cloak reality rather than expose it to consciousness.   Hence, I have and always will reject the use of "enhanced interrogation" for torture, "scandal" for conspiracy, "passing" for death or "sized person" for obese.

Interestingly, Marist College (in its own "egregious language" survey) also agreed that "fake news"  made its own list of "most annoying words" - behind "whatever".  The latter word, incidentally, I have no problems with - for anyone 12 years of age  or under. But if you're older than that you need to find a replacement word when you reach the point of exasperation. I mean you're now supposed to be more than 5 years beyond reaching the age of reason.

Fair enough?

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