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This just in, dawg: ‘Breaking news’ out

Sun., Jan. 1, 2006

DETROIT – No up-or-down vote necessary: Everyone from persons of interest to first-time callers will agree that 2005 offered more than its share of irritating words and phrases.

Lake Superior State University on Saturday released its 2006 “List of Words and Phrases Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness.” But please, don’t call it “breaking news.”

That and 16 other linguistic nuisances were selected by a university committee from among almost 2,000 nominations. The small academic outpost in the Upper Peninsula community of Sault Ste. Marie has been compiling the banned-words list since 1976.

The committee also targeted such gems as “hunker down,” which it noted is used by media “in reports about everything from politics to hurricanes.”

Also frequently heard on the news is “person of interest,” a favorite of law enforcement agencies. Such a person is “seldom encountered at cocktail parties,” the list’s authors lamented.

From the field of education comes “community of learners.”

“Not to be confused with ‘school,’ ” one critic wrote.

Politics offered plenty of fodder. The committee cited “up-or-down vote,” a phrase uttered often in 2005 by Republicans eager to see President Bush’s judicial nominees move through the Senate without the threat of a Democratic filibuster.

The committee also banished “FEMA,” the acronym for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, whose operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina were widely criticized as ineffective.

“If they don’t do anything, we don’t need their acronym,” wrote Josh Hamilton, of Tucson, Ariz.

The school has banned nearly 800 words over the years, including “metrosexual” (2004), “chad” (2001), “baby boomers” (1989) and “detente” (1976).


 

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