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Monday, April 4, 2011
Words and Language Toolbox

Facebookers vent about words they hate

By Paula LaRocque

So, with no idea I was triggering a discussion thread of 85 comments, I posted this note on my Facebook profile:

“Here’s a word that I’m thoroughly sick of: TOTALLY. Here’s another word I’m thoroughly sick of: AWESOME. Here are two words I’m thoroughly sick of: TOTALLY AWESOME.”

A cascade of responses followed. It was as if my FB friends were just waiting for a chance to air their own language grievances.

Ed offered OMG, Denise countered with are you serious, and Dave weighed in with you know and right.

Donna wrote: “We watch this house-hunter show on cable and actually count the number of times someone says awesome. Last night: 15. Recently saw an edited clip of how many times awesome was used on ‘The Bachelor.’ Incredible number of times. Now, about incredible ...”

Henry nominated narrative, Paula added backstory, and copy editor “Byliner” asked us to take (please!) the word amid.

Stacy asked (with an emoticon grin): “You’re totally sick of such awesome words?”

Sylvia wrote: “What about AMAZING!?! Notice how often it is used in print and especially television. Please put it at the top of your sick list! It tops mine.”

A consensus: What is commonly described as “amazing” is not amazing at all. I thought about my new T-shirt’s emblazoned front: “HYPERBOLE! THE BEST THING EVER!”

Byliner wrote: “Incredible means ‘not believable.’ It does not mean ‘totally awesome.’ I hear incredible, like, you know, in every other sentence on the Sunday interview shows. ‘And then she goes ... and then I went ...’”

Britney: “And they always preface their points by saying: Look.”

Paula: “Going forward. Reach out instead of contact.”

Terry: “I hate going forward and all its variations, especially ‘on a go-forward basis.’ Oy, and don’t get me started on reach out. And literally — I love to hate literally, as in ‘I was so mortified, I literally died.’ One can only wish ...”

Byliner: “I should be editing, but the wheels are turning: added an additional ... unnamed sources. That should be unidentified sources — they have names!”

Britney: “It’s interesting how Google, Wiki, YouTube, Facebook, etc., have become VERBS! ‘I’ll Google it.’ We have a new vocabulary with social media.”

Chuck: “I’m tired of people misusing words. Transition is a noun, not a verb.”

Paula: “Ditto for impact. A friend who hated coining words with the suffixes ‘ize’ and ‘wise’ warned: ‘Don’t verbize a noun.’ ”

Byliner: “Incentivize.”

Paula: “A news story said the victim would be funeralized Tuesday.”

Terry: “Funeralized? And I thought ambulanced (he was ambulanced to the hospital) was bad.”

Mark: “And to think I was sure I was the only one who hated those words!”

Harry: “This thread beats about 95 percent of what I hear or read. Thanks, guys. I had a student in my public speaking class say like 36 times in a five-minute speech. No, she wasn’t aware of it, but I promise she won’t do it the next time. I’ve got a clicker that I will use every time I hear it. And my contribution to the ‘banned’ list: WTF, MF or effin’. Who determined that this was clever?”

Donna: “I’m sick of every use of the ‘F’ word — noun, verb, adjective, etc.”

Lois: “I don’t even like the proliferating friggin’.”

Alan: “Far out, like, for sure, dudette.

Roy: “Cool.”

James: “Gimongus.

Alan: “You know.”

Greg: “Dude. Sweet.”

Edward: “Dude! I’m totally with you on that ... and I would find it awesome if I never heard ‘on the ground’ and ‘collateral damage’ again.”

Ed B.: “I’ve always hated feisty and zesty.”

Ellen: “Ever listen to women in a clothing store? What’s the ONE word you hear over and over again? (This is a test.)”

Susan: “I have banned the word countless. Because most of the time what’s being described can actually be numbered ...”

Ellen: “No guesses? Cute. Cute. Cute. Everything is cute.”

Chuck: “Another word I’m fed up with is arguably. So many people parrot this word ... Another thought — if someone is explaining something, they shouldn’t use words like obviously, naturally, of course. If the person doesn’t know, then it is not obvious, etc.”

Paula: “Arguably is a weasel word — favored by media folk when making claims they can’t support. What does it mean? Maybe/Maybe not. And you make another good point about such words as obviously, naturally, or of course — especially in argumentation, where they condescend or patronize. Other offenders: clearly and everybody knows.”

Janet: “What totally awesome posts!”

Byliner: “I learned something about language; thanks.”

Mark W.: “I think you have a book here! May I suggest a title? How about 'Weasel Words and How to Avoid Them?'"

Paula: “Or maybe: 'How to Avoid Being a Weasel.'"

Paula LaRocque is author of “The Book on Writing,” “On Words” and “Championship Writing.” Her first novel, a mystery titled “Chalk Line,” will be published by Marion Street Press in September. Reach her at plarocque@sbcglobal.net or her website, paulalarocque.com.

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