Lake Superior State University’s 2017 Word Banishment List, to be released on Dec. 31.
For every new year since 1976, LSSU has issued an annual “List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-Use, Over-Use or General Uselessness.” LSSU has been accepting nominations for banishment from all over the world, covering all manner of word or phrase worthy of exile.
The tradition created by the late W. T. Rabe, former public relations director at Lake Superior State University, is now in its fifth decade. Compilers hope this year’s list will be so popular that it will ‘break the Internet’.
“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.”
Rabe and fellow LSSU faculty and staff came up with the first list of words and phrases that people love to hate at a New Year’s Eve party in 1975, publishing it on Jan. 1, 1976. Though he and his friends created the first list from their own pet peeves about language, Rabe said he knew from the volume of mail he received in the following weeks that the group would have no shortage of words and phrases from which to choose for 1977. Since then, the list has consisted entirely of nominations received from around the world throughout the year.
Through the years, LSSU has received tens of thousands of nominations for the list, which now includes more than 800 entries. This year’s list is culled from nominations received mostly through the university’s website, http://www.lssu.edu/banished
Word-watchers target pet peeves from everyday speech, as well as from the news, fields of education, technology, advertising, politics and more.
University officials note that even with this year’s Presidential election-year lift, most entries don’t necessarily come from politics. Nominations for the 2017 list roll in via e-mail at a steady pace from the fields of academia, advertising, business, the military, sports, as well as politics.
“We have a great number of firebrand nominations,” says a spokesman for the word-sifters. “The selection process has been push-polled this way and that, and pummeled by trappings of truthiness.”
Words and phrases banished in previous years include: My Bad (`98), Forced Relaxation (`89), Free Gift (`88), Live Audience (`83, `87, `90), and Minor Emergency Clinic (’90). Last year’s list dealt with “vape,” “manspreading,” “so” and more. Beginning a sentence with the word ‘so’ drove many to be, ‘cray-cray’, which was banished in 2015. ‘Polar Vortex’ was found on the 2015 list as well.
The annual compilation makes news all over the world. Between now and mid-January, LSSU’s public relations staff will conduct interviews with electronic media outlets such as Fox, NPR, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, CBC, plus radio call-in programs too numerous to mention. The world’s major press agencies – AP, UPI, Reuters, and Xinhua (China’s national news agency) – also move the list.
Lake Superior State’s tongue-in-cheek compilation catches the attention of columnists with the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, and Newsweek. Stephen Colbert has also featured the list.
The tongue-in-cheek Banishment List began as a publicity ploy for little-known LSSU. The University, established in 1946, was opened as a branch of Michigan College of Mining and Technology to make room for returning World War II veterans. Lake Superior State College became autonomous in 1970 and developed into Lake Superior State University in 1987. It has grown from the tiny branch college into an institution offering more than 60 degree programs in fields such as engineering, fisheries and wildlife management, biology, criminal justice, nursing, teacher education and more.
A committee makes the final cut in late December. Watch for the 2017 List of Banished Words, released on December 31st, 2016.