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Words to avoid

I clicked on a link to a funny Reuters article that was sitting in the RSS feed that lives above my Gmail page. The article was written by Andrew Stern and it summarized what he called a “well-known jab at the worlds of media, sports, advertising and politics” that is put out by the public relations department at Lake Superior State University. It takes at least a little arrogance to put out such a list so Stern pokes fun at the fun-pokers by using the so-called phrases to avoid repeatedly in his article. Perhaps the superiority complex revealed in the cockiness of the department’s jabs is a byproduct of the university’s name or more likely it is simply coincidental as the list was put out by academics.

Phrases targeted include “a perfect storm”, “webinar”, “random”, “sweet”, “organic” (because it refers to anything from dog food to software), “back in the day”, and “it is what it is”.

The list seems outdated. It reminds me of when I first visited Michigan in 2001 and discovered that trends and styles take a couple years to reach Michiganders; I felt like I was way back in the 1990s. I don’t think the kids still say “random, sweet, or back in the day” like they used to but I agree that these words and phrases should be avoided. If I was making the list I would add a few terms:

  1. Really? – While I love the SNL weekend update bit, the constant questioning of anything out of the ordinary or hyperbolic is supremely tired.
  2. Fantastic, Amazing – These words have lost their meaning due to overuse. Rarely is something that is described as fantastic or amazing actually fantastic or amazing.
  3. Fabulous, Ghetto-fabulous, Fantabulous, etc – Similar to #2 in that these words are overused, they got their own number because of the variations the words take on and the high likelihood that you’ll hear them if you are blessed with a spouse who watches fashion reality shows.

Sidenote: I tried in vain to find out if the Andrew Stern who wrote the Reuters article is the same Andrew who worked for the University of Kentucky’s school newspaper in 2001. He wrote me a nasty email after I wrote a letter to the editor about one of his editorials. After we exchanged some more pleasant emails he invited me to meet for coffee and to write for the paper, but I don’t drink coffee so I figured what’s the point. If anyone knows who this guy is, let me know.

katie said,

January 4, 2008 @ 10:46 am

I agree with your “words to avoid” addendum. However, I am perplexed at your aversion to coffee. Really?

Bips said,

January 6, 2008 @ 1:41 am

ABSOLUTELY, I agree with your comments.

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