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Linguists not ‘chillaxin’ over catchwords

- The Washington Times - Friday, January 1, 2010

Among the highlights of 2009 that will not be missed, according to one Midwestern university, is the rise of a list of overused words and pop-culture-laden phrases -- several from the Twitterverse -- that deserve to be banned.

"Friend"? As a verb? Please, say lingo experts at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., who released Thursday their cheeky 35th annual list of commonly used sayings that they want excised from the nation's techno-laden vernacular.

Among the worst offenders:

"Sexting" -- the act of sending sexually laden text messages, like the ones that have sent flames flying for some celebrities including star golfer in exile Tiger Woods.

"Chillaxin" -- a pseudo-hip combo of "chilling" and "relaxing" that was described by one university Web poster as an annoyance from the Generation Y ranks.

"Bromance" -- a catchword used to describe a tight male-bonding experience, particularly in movies or TV shows, that made another poster scream: "Just stop it already."

It was 1975 when Lake Superior State first released a New Year's Day list of overused terms and phrases that they felt had to go. Since then, the college has sought public submissions on what words were out from year to year, receiving thousands of nods from the marketing, media, education and technology spheres as they compiled a humorous annual list.

Joked a Lake Superior "word banishment" representative: "The list this year is a 'teachable moment' conducted free of 'Tweets.' "

The representative added: " 'In these economic times,' purging our language of 'toxic assets' is a 'stimulus' effort that's 'too big to fail.' "

Toxic assets was a term used by corporate and government financiers to describe financial properties that have sunk in value, with the phrase "too big to fail" used repeatedly in reference to companies, specifically banks and financial firms such as AIG, that are thought to require public bailouts.

Other words on the list included, "czar," "app" (for software applications), along with "transparent/transparency" and "stimulus," which detractors suggest has been overstimulated in our year of sturdy governmentspeak.

President Obama, whose popularity dipped in the past year, also was not immune from the school's colloquial 2009 purge fest.

"The LSSU Word Banishment Committee held out hope that folks would want to Obama-ban Obama-structions, but were surprised that no one Obama-nominated any, such as these compiled by the Oxford Dictionary in 2009: Obamanomics, Obamanation, Obamafication, Obamacare, Obamalicious, Obamaland ...."

The committee added: "We say Obamanough already."