Annual Banished Word List
James A. Landau
JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Wed Jan 2 00:44:44 UTC 2002
I found the following on AOL News:
'9-11' Tops Annual Banished Word List
By BREE FOWLER
.c The Associated Press
DETROIT (Jan. 11) - The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks should be referred to as
just that and not ``9-11'' or ``nine-eleven,'' according to the annual list
of banished words compiled by Lake Superior State University.
The authors of the ``List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for
Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness'' at the Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.,
school say they received numerous nominations for the abbreviations to be
included in the 27th annual list.
Most people nominating ``9-11'' and ``nine-eleven'' said they were not trying
to make light of the attacks, but asked if finding a ``cute'' abbreviation
for the day makes them any easier to accept.
But others objected strongly.
``I can't believe people are abbreviating the worst act of war this country
has seen since Pearl Harbor,'' wrote a nominator from Colorado Springs, Colo.
``I've never heard anybody refer to the attack on Pearl Harbor as
Twelve-Seven or 12-7.''
Lake Superior, the smallest public university in Michigan with just over
3,000 students, releases the list each Jan. 1 from submissions gathered
around the world from academia, advertising, business, journalism, the
military, politics and sports.
The list was born out of a New Year's Eve party in 1976 and sent out as a
publicity ploy for the Upper Peninsula school. Then-public relations director
W.T. (Bill) Rabe started the list, in part because he thought the school
needed more name recognition.
Among the other words included on this year's list: ``friendly fire,'' once
popular during the Gulf War and revived by the recent military action in
Several other terrorism-related terms made the list, including ``surgical
strike'' and ``bring the evildoers to justice.''
``Practically every news reporter and our president has uttered these
words,'' wrote a nominator from the Queens borough of New York City. ``Now,
hearing this phrase is almost comical, even under these most serious
circumstances that profoundly affect my hometown.''
Among the other words and phrases on this year's list: ``in the wake of,''
``synergy'' and ``faith-based.''
``Reality TV'' and ``Reality-based TV'' also made the list.
``Banish the words, banish the shows, banish the people who came up with the
idea for the shows, because there is nothing real about this form of
television,'' wrote Mary Li of Toronto.
My comment on the above: unlike "9-11", several items listed in the article
have specific meanings but have no synonyms, so if they get banned we will
have trouble discussing the topics. Specifically:
friendly fire - is also called "fratricide". Friendly fire has been much
discussed since the Gulf War, but is nothing new. Item: in the 1948 battle
for Jerusalem, the commanders on both sides (Abdul Kadar el Huseinni and
David Marcus) were killed by friendly fire, as was Stonewall Jackson in 1863.
It can be argued that at Waterloo more British soldiers were killed by
friendly fire than by enemy fire.
faith-based - no available synonyms, and if you happen to dislike Bush's
ideas on faith-based initiatives, your desire is that they be killed after
public debate, which will be difficult if the term is banished. Hence
banishing the term would be a politically biased activity!
synergy - no available synonyms
reality TV - probably an oxymoron, but again no available synonyms
sugrical strike - this time I agree that the term should be banished.
Knowledgeable people (including many in the US Air Force) know that "smart
bombs" have something like a 50% probability of hitting their targets, as
opposed to the traditional "dumb bombs" whose probability is something less
than 1%. Thoughtful admirers of the US air campaign in Afghanistan will
admit that a "surgical strike" is a matter of luck, or in other words, bombs
do not always do what you intend. (Not a political comment, just a statement
- Jim Landau
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