LSSU Banished Words list, 2008

Dennis Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Thu Jan 3 13:22:08 UTC 2008


Successful L2 speakers are some of the biggest prescriptivists. I
remember a university student in Poland being raked over the coals by
an examiner for not being able to distinguish between "jam" and

"Raked over the coals"? Phrasal etymologists to the rescue? My mind's
eye tells me that "racked over..." would be more accurate.


>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       Chris F Waigl <chris at LASCRIBE.NET>
>Subject:      Re: LSSU Banished Words list, 2008
>One of my teachers once warned us not to use "annihilate" in the place
>of "kill", as "nihil" means "nothing", and killing usually leaves a dead
>body, or at least some sort of matter, behind. I forget if this was in
>German or English, but it works equally well for either.
>Also, during my short and sadly unglorious time as an English teacher in
>France I was criticised by the senior colleague who was supposed to be
>mentoring me for including "adore" in the list of ways to express one's
>like/dislike (classical beginners' lesson topic.... like/love/be keen
>on/not mind/dislike/hate/etc. + V-ING, usually). (Well, it *was* in the
>textbook, along with all the others.) But she tersely reminded me of
>it's primary religious meaning "worship".
>Laurence Horn wrote:
>>  My favorite comment is the one below, on "decimate" (topic of a
>>  recent thread here).  I'll try to remember to trot it out next time I
>>  teach the etymological fallacy.  Take any semantic change, e.g. that
>>  for SILLY:  "It's so bad that now there are two definitions, the real
>>  one [= 'blessed'] and the one that has taken over like a weed
>>  ['foolish']."  But maybe if we really wanted to make a point with the
>>  Danes of the world (no, I'm not talking about inhabitants of
>>  Denmark), we could suggest they think of new senses not as weeds but
>>  as wildflowers...
>>  LH
>>  At 11:33 AM -0500 1/2/08, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
>>>  DECIMATE - Word-watchers have been calling for the annihilation of
>>>  this one for several years.
>>>  ...
>>>  "The word is so overused and misused, people use it when they should
>>>  be saying 'annihilate.' It's so bad that now there are two
>>>  definitions, the real one and the one that has taken over like a weed.
>>>  - Dane, Flowery Branch, Georgia.
>The American Dialect Society -

Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of English
Morrill Hall 15-C
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48864 USA

The American Dialect Society -

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