Banning words for the new year

Baron, Dennis E debaron at ILLINOIS.EDU
Sun Jan 19 18:56:05 UTC 2014

There's a new post on the Web of Language:

Banning words for the new year

In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions like quit smoking, lose weight, exercise more, each January brings new calls to ban words, the linguistic equivalent of losing weight. But while New Year’s resolutions are self-imposed—I decide that an hour on the elliptical watching Sherlock would be better than an hour on the couch with Sherlock and a bowl of chips—word bans tend to be imposed by someone else.

Usually it’s an individual or a group that wants to ban a word. One such group, at Lake Superior State University, posts an annual banished words list<>. Instead of learn a new word every day, the New Year’s resolution of this crowd is ban a new word every day. This year’s banned words are selfie, twerk, and hashtag.

It turns out that quite a few people actually like these banned words: Oxford Dictionaries honored selfie<> as its 2013 Word of the Year, with twerk dancing close behind, and both the Web of Language and the American Dialect Society named #hashtag<> as Word of the Year for 2012 (marriage<> and invasion of privacy<> are the Web of Language’s 2013 word and phrase of the year).

Banning words won’t stop people from using them: nominations on the Banished Word List are so peppered with selfie and hashtag it seems that even the nominators themselves are reluctant to give up using the words they claim to hate. . . .

read the full post on the Web of Language:

Dennis Baron
Professor of English and Linguistics
Department of English
University of Illinois
608 S. Wright St.
Urbana, IL 61801

The American Dialect Society -

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