Sault Ste. Marie (Michigan), Jan. 1 (Reuters): Overused cliches, wordy redundancies and hyperbolic phrases — including the Bushism “make no mistake about it” — were declared banished today by the university overseers of an annual list of banned words.
Other favoured utterances of President George W. Bush such as “material breach”, “weapons of mass destruction”, and “homeland security” were the tired targets of the New Year’s day list compiled by the public relations staff at Lake Superior State University.
This year’s list of 23 worn-out words and phrases — the tradition was begun in 1976 — was whittled down from 3,000 entries submitted to the school from around the world to its website, www.lssu.edu/banished. “Make no mistake about it” was nominated by several contributors, one of whom commented: “Who’s mistaken, anyway'”
As usual, the media and advertising worlds came in for ridicule. In response to the catch-phrase “must-see TV”, contributor Nan Heflin of Colorado wrote: “Must find remote. Must change channel.” The list-writers added: “Television once pitched entertainment. Apparently, now it’s taken on a greater imperative. (It) assumes herd mentality over programme taste.”
Another linguistic target was “now, more than ever,” which contributor Matthew Lowe of New Jersey said “has become overused since the (September 11) terrorist attacks... from warnings to be safe, to stores having sales... It has to go.”
Advertisers would be better off finding another superlative other than “extreme”, which contributors complained had evolved from an adjective denoting dangerous sports into a promotional tag for products from cars to deodorant.
“Branding” too has morphed from something burned into a cow’s rump into “any activity that supports a company’s desire to clearly define its products”, said Nancy Hicks of Virginia. Irritating to many contributors were the overused “having said that” and “that said”, to which David Patrick of Indiana said: “I heard you the first time.”
Tautologies such as “frozen tundra,” which by definition is frozen, and “an undisclosed, secret location,” as in references to Vice-President Dick Cheney’s position, repeat themselves. Finally, the list gave the heave-ho to the self-important obituary writer’s phrase, “untimely death”.