Posts Tagged ‘language’

Banned Words be Damned!


At the end of every year there seems to be a desire on the part of some academics to “clean up” or otherwise “repair” the English language. While in this day of hacked-up sentences as a result of the truncation of our language thanks to texts and tweets, there are some things that may be going just a bit too far. Lake Superior State University has, perhaps, crossed the line of being a protector of the language to being inappropriate in their zeal to guard the development of our Lingua Franca.

Whether we like it or not, English is a living, growing, and evolving language. It’s literature is the pulse of its health and represents the best, and the worst, of what is happening at the core of the language. Literature is not, however, the only barometer by which we measure the use of language. The printed media must be part of the equation, and then there is the great democratiser of language, that which allows equal participation to anyone who can find a way to connect: the Net. Through the Internet anyone can express their ideas, in whatever words they may choose to use (appropriateness be damned).

Before the emergence of the Internet we could only rely on the printed word – the published word as the transmission of new language. The spoken word was relatively restricted to regional influences that only went as far as the individual travelled. The Internet allows someone to have as great an influence as some small newspapers a century ago, if not more, thanks to things like Twitter and Facebook, and the dissemination of videos through uTube and other sources. Which brings me back to Lake Superior State University.

LSSU has a tradition of “banning words” based on nominations. On the surface it is a totally harmless, humorous thing, and totally dismissible, but there is an underlying intellectual snobbery here that makes it easy to understand why there has been so much animus and overt animosity towards higher education during the past electoral cycle in the United States. Banning words: think about that for a second; if you are banning what people can say, as a word, how far are they from suggesting which books should be banned … perhaps burned? After all, controlling the way people think – the things they can say – is the ultimate repression. It may very well be a joke, and some of the words are ridiculous … but banning them? How about educating people so that they have a richer vocabulary and aren’t forced to limit their choices to such mundane samples of silliness.

Below is a poem that uses the banned words. The link to the LSSU site is here, so you can see all of the words and their meanings. The banned words appear in capital letters.

THANK YOU IN ADVANCE (yes – using it as the title might be cheating … I’ll use it again, I promise)

It is THE NEW NORMAL for them to hide
in their MAN CAVE when told of the AMAZING
BABY BUMP now growing to GINORMOUS proportions
(but this will be a SHARED SACRIFICE you say
as she retches in the morning)
the BLOW BACK from this comes
as you serve as PET PARENT to your
perpetually neurotic poodle who ruins
yet another cardigan
you will WIN THE FUTURE for you
when you OCCUPY the kitchen and she says
Before tasting the meatloaf.

Banning words only makes sense when they are words that have no redeeming quality … I’d name an example, but … I don’t like to use words like that. The above cited words, while some may be annoying (Baby Bump?), none are really so egregious that they need to be banned. Amazing? Really?

Thank you in advance for reading, I shall be awaiting your comments in my man cave (yes, like I have one of those …). I just occupy the basement. Oh … good one!