“So” Tops Lake Superior State University’s 41st annual List of Words Banished Words

Come 2016, people should already stop using “so” to start a sentence according to those who’ve submitted their votes to Lake Superior State University (LSSU) to have the word stricken off from the Queen’s English. One of them, a David Simpson of Laurel, Maryland, said: “So it’s getting really annoying. So can we please put a stop to this?”

“So,” the word that received the most nominations this year, was already previously banished by LSSU back in 1999 when it was being overly used as a verb modifier, as in “I am so down with this list!” Recently, the word is again seen being overly used albeit in a different context. According to another voter, a Bob Forrest of Tempe, Arizona, “Currently, it is being overused as the first word in the answer to ANY question.”

Since 1976, it has been a tradition at LSSU to publish a “List of Words and Phrases Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness.” The tradition was created by the late W. T. Rabe, a former public relations director, to generate some publicity for Michigan’s smallest public university. Over the years, LSSU has received scores of nominations from word-watchers from all over the world for their annual list. This year’s list is culled from nominations received mostly through the university’s website, lssu.edu/banished.  A committee makes a final cut in late December.

According to the LSSU committee, the 2016 list of words and phrases which received the most number of nominations for banishment are:

  1. “So”
  2. “Conversation”:  Online publications invite us to “join the conversation,” which is usually more of a scream-fest.
  3. “Problematic”: “A corporate-academic weasel word,” according to the Urban Dictionary. “Somewhere along the line, this word became a trendy replacement for ‘that is a problem.’ I just hate it,” Sharon Martin of Hagerstown, Md., said in her nomination.
  4. “Stakeholder”: A word that has expanded from describing someone who may actually have a stake in a situation or problem, now being over-used in business to describe customers and others.
  5. “Price Point”: Another example of using two words when one will do. “It has no ‘point.’ It is just a ‘price,’” Guy Michael of Cherry Hill, N.J. said in his vote.
  6. “Secret Sauce”: Usually used in a sentence explaining the ‘secret’ in excruciating public detail… a metaphor for business success based on the fast food industry.
  7. “Break the Internet”: “An annoying bit of hyperbole about the latest saucy picture or controversy that is already becoming trite,” observed voter Tim Bednall of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  8. “Walk It Back”:  “It seems as if every politician who makes a statement has to ‘walk it back,’ meaning retract the statement, or explain it in laborious detail to the extent that the statement no longer has any validity or meaning once it has been ‘walked back,’” explained voter Max Hill of Killeen, Tex.
  9. “Presser”: This shortened form of ‘press release’ and ‘press conference’ is not so impressive according to LSSU. “Not only is there no intelligent connection between the word ‘presser’ and its supposed meaning, this word already has a definition: a person or device that removes wrinkles. Let’s either say ‘press conference’ or ‘press release’ or come up with something more original, intelligent and interesting,” said Constance Kelly of West Bloomfield, Mich., in her nomination.
  10. “Manspreading”: A word that is familiar to those in bigger cities, where seats on the bus or subway are sometimes difficult to find. “Men don’t need another disgusting-sounding word thrown into the vocabulary to describe something they do…You’re just taking too much room on this train seat, be a little more polite…,” said voter Carrie Hansen of Caledonia, Mich.
  11. “Vape”: Vape and vaping are used to describe the act of ‘smoking’ e-cigarettes (another strange word) since the products emit vapor instead of smoke.
  12. “Giving Me Life”: The phrase refers to anything that may excite a person, or something that causes one to laugh. “I suggest banishing this hyperbole for over-use,” says voter Ana Robbins, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
  13. “Physicality”: “We had to include one for the sports fans,” according to LSSU. John Kollig of Jamestown, N.Y., says this is overused by every sports broadcaster and writer. “I am not sure who is responsible, but over the last 12-18 months you cannot watch a sporting event, listen to a sports talk show on radio, or anything on ESPN without someone using this term to attempt to describe an athlete or a contest,” noted voter Dan Beitzel of Perrysburg, Ohio.

“Overused words and phrases are ‘problematic’ for thousands of Queen’s English ‘stakeholders,’” said an LSSU spokesperson while ‘vaping’ an e-cigarette during a ‘presser.’  “Once something is banished, there’s no ‘walking it back;’ that’s our ‘secret sauce,’ and there’s no ‘price point’ for that.”

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