Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 Banished Words List

Here we are on the cusp of a new calendar year. Mayan doomsday predictions aside, 2012 was one tough year for many people I know. Let’s hope 2013 is a better year for all of us.

To start the year off right, we’re going to take a look at 2013’s “List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness” as compiled by Lake Superior State University. According to a page on the university’s website, this tongue-in-cheek banishment list began on New Year’s Day in 1976 as a publicity stunt for the school. Since then, “People from around the world have nominated hundreds of words and phrases such as ‘you know,’ ‘user friendly,’ ‘at this point in time,’ and ‘have a nice day,’ to be purged from the language.”

If you have a few moments, peruse the annual list archives (you can find the link on the left side of the banished words web page). It’s interesting how certain words or phrases come to define events and time periods – and how many of those entries are still in frequent use!

Without further ado, here is the 2013 list of words that should be banished from the English language:

fiscal cliff
kick the can down the road
double down
job creators/creation
YOLO (an acronym for "You Only Live Once")
spoiler alert
bucket list
boneless wings

To read complete entries and commentaries for this year's words, go to

And now, let's raise our glasses, coffee cups, or other appropriate beverage containers and make a toast for a peaceful and prosperous new year! Happy 2013 everyone.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

No Typo Apocalypse

So here we are on December 22nd, and everything is pretty much as we left it yesterday. Apparently there may have been a significant typo in that Mayan calendar…

Yesterday was not the end of the world, nor was it the end of the road for typos. Here are six recent examples:

- “Correpondent” (the ‘s’ is missing) instead of “correspondent” during a national news segment.

- “Free reign” instead of the correct phrase, “free rein.” “Reign” means to rule; “rein” is a strap connected to a horse bridle that is used to control the horse. To give something “free rein” is to let it run wild or free, just as a horse would if you let go of the reins.

- “The fire broke out at a Duplex…” The word “duplex” is a simple noun, not a proper noun requiring capitalization. The writer apparently thought this particular duplex was pretty darned important, though, because he capitalized it twice in the same story.

- In the same story about the duplex fire, the writer said investigators were trying to determine whether embers “reignighted” and caused the fire. The correct word is “reignited.”

- A fresh headline from a local news station’s website reads, “Boy hit by in leg bullet.” There’s some serious juxtaposition going on there…

- Then there’s a story posted at a different online news station’s website about norovirus making the rounds. The writer advises readers that the virus can be spread by “touching touching a contaminated surface.” Perhaps touching a contaminated surface once isn’t enough.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Little Logic, Please

One element of good writing that I haven’t really focused on in this blog is logic. But that’s okay, because apparently other writers don’t focus on it, either.

Case in point: These opening lines from an online news story about a fire.

“A small grass fire in Cheyenne Canyon is quickly put out but it may take a while to determine why it began.

“Around 4:30 pm Friday, fire fighters found a car in flames off Old Stage Road. The fire had spread to nearby brush but only scorched about one-tenth of an acre before it was put out.”

The first sentence is telling us that the cause of the grass fire has yet to be determined. Yet the second sentence clearly says that the fire spread from a burning car to its surroundings.

So it’s obvious how the grass/brush fire began: a burning car. What remains unknown is how and/or why the car caught fire.

There was also a typo at the end of the story (were instead of where), but that’s nothing new these days.

Just remember: A little logic can go a long way in the writing world…