Lake Superior State University (LSSU) has a group of word-watchers that started coming out with an annual list of overused, misused and generally useless words in the English language since 1975, releasing the list on New Year’s Day. This year’s list is the university’s 39th edition. The idea, which immediately caught on, was cooked up by Bill Rabe, the former director of the LSSU Public Relations office. This year, selfie, twerk, twerking, hashtags, twittersphere and Mister Mom topped the list of most annoying words.
People send nominations through the LSSS website each year and editors from the university review them before submitting the list to the committee in charge of making the final decision. They take into consideration the use of the words and phrases in different fields, including politics, advertising, technology, science, social media and every day speech.
2013’s top words to be banished
The word “Selfie” made it to the top of the list. With smartphones getting equipped with high resolution cameras, it became a practice of users to take pictures of themselves, with their friends and with other people in different situations and posting the self-taken photo in photo sharing and social media sites. Even President Obama caught the bug and took some when he was at the Mandela memorial. This compulsion to take self-photos has a life of its own in Japan and South Korea, where idols, fans and ordinary people, most of them belonging to the younger generation, take a “selca,” their own name for it, which is a combination of “self” and “camera.”
Twerk or twerking is a dance move that became more popular when Miley Cyrus performed at the MTV VMA show. The word was added to the online version of the Oxford Dictionary afterwards. It became associated with hip-hop culture in the U.S. since the 2000s although the dance was first performed live by the group Haysi Fantayzee, dancing to their song John Wayne Is Big Leggy during a Top of the Pops show in 1985.
The symbol “#” used to be called the pound sign. In Twitter it became used as the symbol to group similar messages/topics to make searching easier. It was commonly used in information technology to give emphasis to a special meaning, just like in 1970 when its meaning was “immediate” when placed next to a number or another symbol in the PDP-11 assembly language. Dennis Ritchie and Brian Kernighan used the hashtag in the C programming language in 1978 as an indicator to the special keywords that must be processed first. With its regular use in Twitter and its invasion into other social network sites and everyday language, many people deemed that they’ve had enough of #this and #that.
Mister Mom was a 1983 comedy film starring Michael Keaton. It celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2013 and it seems to have released the pent up emotions of men that were called as Mister Mom. They believe that the word is an insult to the millions of stay-at-home dads that are the primary caregivers for their kids and thus the word should be banished.
T-Bone, which is a cut of beef is now figuring in news reports of car collisions. People rather like the old way of reporting this type of accident rather than disparaging a delicious steak. Other words that made the list include suffixes such as –ageddon and –pocalypse, morally/intellectually bankrupt (politics), adversity (football) and fan base (sports).
The LSSU list is almost nearing the 1,000th word list. What would be the popular words this year and how many of these will make it to the annual list?