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Manspreading, presser, vape on 2015 list of Banished Words

Dec 31, 2015

Credit Gabrielle Emanuel / Michigan Radio

So, Lake Superior State University has started a conversation with stakeholders of the English language.

The university has identified problematic words that are breaking the Internet and ruining the Queen’s English.

In a tradition that dates back more than four decades, the university picked words that are misused, overused or generally useless.

Tom Pink, who helped selected 13 banned words from over 2,000 submissions, says ‘so’ was the most nominated word on this year's list.

“It was on the list in 1999,” says Pink. “People were using it: I was so not into that. Now, they are using the word 'so' to begin any sentence.”

Now, the university is searching for the secret sauce that will make English speakers around the world walk it back.

They're considering holding a presser and they’re trying to find the right price point, in order to convince everyone that the Banished Words list gives me life.  They feel like sports commentators obsessed with physicality are in a particularly dire situation. 

At the same time as defending the English language, Lake Superior State University is also taking on manspreading and vaping.

Here’s the 2015 list of banished words and an explanation for why:

  • Break the Internet -- “An annoying bit of hyperbole about the latest saucy picture or controversy that is already becoming trite.” -- Tim Bednall, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • Conversation -- “It has replaced ‘discussion,’ ‘debate,’ ‘chat,’ ‘discourse,’ ‘argument,’ ‘lecture,’ ‘talk’….all of which can provide some context to the nature of the communication. Perhaps the users feel that it is a word that is least likely to offend people, but I consider it to be imprecise language that, over time, dumbs down the art of effective discourse.” – Richard Fry, Marathon, Ont.
  • Give me life -- “I suggest banishing this hyperbole for over-use,” says Ana Robbins, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
  • Manspreading -- “Men don't need another disgusting-sounding word thrown into the vocabulary to describe something they do…You're just taking too much room on this train seat, be a little more polite...” – Carrie Hansen, Caledonia, Mich.
  • Physicality -- “Every time I hear them say it, I change the channel.” – Brenda Ruffing, Jackson, Mich.
  • Presser -- “This industry buzzword has slipped into usage in news reporting and now that they have started, they can't seem to stop using it.” -- Richard W. Varney, Akron, Ohio.
  • Price Point -- “It has no ‘point.’  It is just a ‘price.’” -- Guy Michael, Cherry Hill, N.J.
  • Problematic -- “Somewhere along the line, this word became a trendy replacement for 'that is a problem.’ I just hate it.” -- Sharon Martin, Hagerstown, Md.
  • Secret Sauce -- “Is this a metaphor for business success based on the fast food industry?” -- John Beckett, Ann Arbor, Mich.
  • So -- “Tune in to any news channel and you’ll hear it. The word serves no purpose in the sentence and to me is like fingernails on a chalkboard. So, I submit the extra, meaningless, and overused word ‘so.’” – Scott Shackleton, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
  • Stakeholder -- “Often used with ‘engagement.’ If someone is disengaged, they're not really a stakeholder in the first place. LSSU, please engage your stakeholders by adding this pretentious jargon to your list. -- Gwendolyn Barlow, Portland, Ore.
  • Vape -- David Ervin of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., says he hopes the word “goes up in smoke.”
  • Walk it back -- “It seems as if every politician who makes a statement has to ‘walk it back,’ meaning retract the statement, or explain it in laborious detail to the extent that the statement no longer has any validity or meaning once it has been ‘walked back.’” -- Max Hill, Killeen, Tex.