Banished: Words in Exile, 2015 Edition

Once or twice I’ve followed up on the WOTY (Word of the Year) roundup posts with a post describing words people would like to see expunged from the English language forever. As with WOTY lists, these banned lists often tell you a lot more about the people who put them together than the words themselves.

The best (and longest-lived) such “banned words” list is the one put together each year by Lake Superior State University. I didn’t bother covering it last year, partly because I was busy with other things, but partly because it was just too damned cranky and technophobic. Crankiness is always a factor with this type of list, but there’s a fine line between thoughtful negativity and mere bitter griping. So I skipped it. This year, the submitters are back in thoughtful form, so I’m back with a summary.

Click to decide if this is thoughtfully negative or just griping

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WOTY (Word of the Year) 2014 — Part 2

Well, they’ve gone and done it. The American Dialect Society (ADS) chose their Word of the Year (WOTY) for 2014 over the weekend. Don’t feel bad if you missed it: there was absolutely no fanfare. (Aside from the ADS press release, this may have been the only story published so far.) If ever a WOTY selection received anemic media coverage, this was it. Not that it was an inherently poor choice, only that it’s difficult for the media to get their heads around something that many people don’t think of as a ‘legitimate word.’

Click for the big reveal (and several smaller ones)

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Proportionate vs. Proportional

While the entire English-speaking world eagerly awaits the American Dialect Society’s announcement of their word of the year (WOTY) for 2014 (…they are eagerly awaiting, aren’t they…?), here’s a quick post on a word pair that was getting a lot of visibility in the news recently: proportional and proportionate.

Click here for a proportional response

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WOTY (Word of the Year) 2014 — Part 1

While I’m not a huge believer in the whole concept of a “Word of the Year” (WOTY), it’s become a tradition for me to use a post (or two, or even three…) to collect as many of them as I can to see what the various WOTY committees have come up with. The whole WOTY idea is nonsense, but these lists are often useful for tracking interesting new words and usages that might soon become (or already have become) a common part of the language around us. They’re also, in my opinion, a good demonstration of how easy it is to be completely tone-deaf to how the language actually functions, so these lists give us a window on both the best and the worst of new coinages.

Click for more opinionated ramblings, with no further mention of the cromnibus

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Forgo, foregoing, foregone…but please not “forwent”

There isn’t a category of words, phrases, and grammar known simply as “ugly English.” But there probably should be. Qualifying immediately for that category would be “forwent.” It’s the past tense of “forgone.”

You’re probably familiar with foregone, as in a foregone conclusion (something that is so likely to happen that it’s accepted as inevitable). That’s primarily how foregone is used in modern speech, as little more than part of a frequently overused phrase.

If you’re sharp eyed, you’ve noticed that I’ve already spelled this word two different ways, “foregone” with an “e” in the middle and “forgone” without it. That wasn’t an accident, and it’s part of what makes these words so maddeningly annoying for writers and editors.

You’ve read the foregoing, how can you forgo the rest? Click for more.

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