Friday, October 30, 2009



In the wake of my last column, a friend took umbrage at my inclusion of "It is what it is" in a list of words and phrases that should be banned from the English language. "Some things defy explanation," she said, in defense of the aforementioned term. One need only to look at the phenomena of Kim Kardashian’s fame and women attracted to Jon Gosselin to know that this is true.

When I declared a moratorium on "It is what it is,
" perhaps I should have noted that I am as guilty as the next gal of spouting that throwaway phrase now and again on those occasions when my vocabulary is feeling not-so-fresh. In fact, were I to do away with my own stock of oft-uttered expressions, this column would be little more than a handy space for doodling. What one linguist calls overused and irritating, I call "the cornerstones of my biweekly babbling."

So, in the name of increasing my word power, I hereby vow to (make a halfhearted attempt to) abstain from (or at least slightly reduce) the use of the following terminology (except when I really and truly need to):

"Meh" – It’s less obnoxious than the ubiquitous teenspeak staple, "Whatever," and nicer than, "Your opinion is as meaningless as Kim Kardashian."

* "PWNED" – Derived from "owned," meaning to conquer, it should only be used if you are 12 years old and playing Halo online while wearing headgear and watching "Naruto."

* "Full of win" – Victorious, excellent or otherwise superlative. Example: "Stephenie Meyers ‘Twilight’ series is full of win." In addition to being blatantly false, saying this will make you sound like you’re full of something else.

* "Conversate" – Please orientate yourself with a dictionary so you can learn that the proper way to pronunciate this word is "converse."

* "Not so much" – And yet it’s uttered TOO much.

* "Cool beans" – This is ranks up there with "the bee’s knees," "the cat’s meow/pajamas" and "easy peasy lemon squeezy" on the list of Things You Should Not Say Unless You’re Old Enough To Tell Stories About The Depression.

* "Carbon footprint" – Mine’s a size 5, so how environmentally destructive could it be? Kim Kardashian’s buttprint, on the other hand …

* "Weak sauce" – That’s enough, Guy-Dude-Bro.

* Combined celebrity names – Brangelina, TomKat and Bennifer are bad enough, but if this asinine amalgamation continues, we could end up with Madonna + Simon Cowell = MadCow.

* "Pop" – As in, "That red blouse really makes your auburn highlights pop!" Save this one as slang for soda or a nickname for your dad.

And last, but certainly not least:

* "I threw up in my mouth a little" – Enough with the figurative regurgitation, people! How about upchucking this term from your lexicon? (Those suffering from acid reflux are exempt.)

If I hear this expression one more time, I swear I’m gonna gag someone with a spoon.

Monday, October 12, 2009



Recently, “Saturday Night Live” newbie Jenny Slate commited the faux pas of uttering one of George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” Keep in mind that the list was issued before we had eleventy-zillion cable channels where you now can hear all seven words terms and many more colorful ones that have since been coined. The expletive in question was none of the euphemisms for bodily waste or anatomical parts, or the one describing, um, an act of … uh … intimacy between … er … well, just don’t do it, OK?

This four-letter word is used as a verb, noun or adjective, often in exclamation and/or imperative form, and was deemed in the movie “A Christmas Story” as “the granddaddy of all swear words.” That’s right, Slate dropped the “eff-dash-dash-dash” bomb during the sketch “Biker Chick Chat.” Only those in the Eastern Time Zone heard the slip-up, since NBC quickly restored it to the intended “freakin’” for western zones.

Since the incident, online comments have ranged from, “People are so uptight! It’s just a word,” to “It should be banned from the English language.” Oh, if only that were possible! If I legislated lexiconography, the overused, misused and useless terminology I’d banish – if not from the language altogether, at least from common usage – would fill a dictionary.

“Cougar” tops my list. Why are women of a certain age likened to a beast of prey because they enjoy the company of younger men? If you don’t think that’s sexist, tell me the comparable term for older men who date younger women? The only one I can think of “lucky S.O.B.”

Next up: “ATM machine.” The “M” stands for machine, so unless you’re talking about the gadget that repairs an ATM, stick to the acronym or call it by its technical name: Cash spitter-outer.

Last year’s presidential campaign spawned several words and phrases I could without hearing again, like “pit bull,” “hockey mom” and “new change.” What other kind of change is there? And I don’t want to hear anyone dubbed “maverick” except James Garner, circa 1960.

I’d also outlaw:

“It is what it is” – Unless you’re Bill Clinton, in which case, it depends on what your definition of “is” is.

“(Insert noun) is the new black” – So what does that make the OLD black?

“Best-kept secret” – How well-kept is it if you’re telling me?

“Sick” as a synonym for “cool,” “amazing,” etc. – You might think you sound cool and amazing, but you’re making me sick – and that’s a synonym for “ill” and “nauseated.”

“Past history” – This redundant phrase is like repeating the same, exact thing twice.

“With all due respect” – Translation: “I don’t really respect you, so it’s fitting that I’m about to say something disrespectful.”

“Downsizing” – Dressing it up doesn't make the folks on the receiving end feel any better. Ditch this word and call it what it is - firing. Unless you’re referring to weight loss. In that case, it is what it is.