LSSU Banished Words list, 2008

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Wed Jan 2 17:42:54 UTC 2008

On Jan 2, 2008, at 9:17 AM, John Baker wrote:

> ... Their complaints on "give back," "emotional," and that old stand-
> by, "decimate," just seem silly...

for "decimate", note: "Word-watchers have been calling for the
annihilation of this one for several years."

make that "for at least 138 years", since 1870 (when Richard Grant
White raved about it).  nice instance of the Recency Illusion, but for
peeves rather than usages.

i have a Language Log posting in preparation in which i nominate
"decimate" for the Peevy Award for Lifetime Achievement among Great
Language Peeves (peeves that are widespread, of long standing, and
passionately advocated, in the face of solid long-time contrary
practice by educated speakers and writers, not to mention a thoroughly
specious rationale for the peeve).

it's a crowded field, but "decimate" is a truly outstanding contender.


The American Dialect Society -

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