Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Comparing Annual Word Lists (Michigan Edition)

A topic of mention on many blogs and websites recently has been the publication of Lake Superior State University's 2011 Banished Words List. For those who do not know, Lake Superior State University is located in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan.

Interestingly, a magazine with offices located in Detroit, Michigan also published a list of taboo words. The December issue of Hour Detroit Magazine includes an article titled 40 Different Words and Phrases Not to Use.

I thought it might be fun to compare LSSU's list with that of Hour Detroit's.

LSSU's list includes 14 words and phrases and Hour Detroit's list includes 40.

The only no-no word that the two lists share is back story. Following is the back story commentary from each list.

Hour Detroit - "BACK STORY. What’s wrong with background?"

"This should be on the list of words that don't need to exist because a perfectly good word has been used for years. In this case, the word is 'history,' or, for those who must be weaned, 'story.'" Jeff Williams, Sherwood, Ariz.

Here are a few more of the words and phrases from each list.

Wow factor
I'm just sayin'

Hour Detroit
End result
Begs the question
Icon, iconic
Male nurse
Trust me
Skill set

For the full lists and descriptions please click on the above links.

Click here for a post about Lake Superior State's 2010 Banished Words List and here for the 2010 Filipino Word of the Year.

Image from Rob Balder's PartiallyClips via
Language Log.


kalimera said...

I think the comic says it all. Pedants bemoaning the "decline of English" expose their own lack of knowledge when they create these lists. Prescriptivism is dead, for reals.

I thought the comparison was interesting, though. Thanks for sharing! I enjoy the blog, your updates never fail to entertain and educate! Hope you keep updating. :)

Laura Payne said...

kalimera - Thank you. I am glad you enjoy the blog. Keep on reading.

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