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 V.17 No.37 | September 11 - 17, 2008 

Thin Line

Old Hat

Lazy writing is a scourge (scourge, a word I too often frequent) on newspapers, newscasts and media objects around the globe. At times certain words absolutely infect journalists. I guess you'd call them memes, although that term has become, well, annoying. But what else do you call this cultural occurrence? Such a pathetic state of affairs. This is a short list of words, irritating and overused, in the media.

Gumption—This is my absolute most-hated word. This is the type of word you can't just say. You have to chew it then spit it out. In the past week, it was printed in the Washington Post, was part of a Globe and Mail headline and was uttered on the NBC Nightly News. I think I even saw it printed in the Alibi recently.

Probe—This is a naughty little word that needs to be taken into the bedroom and given a good spanking. Any time anything is probed, even if it's, oh, the City Council, it just ends up sounding dirty and faintly phallic.

Fueled—Metaphors involving things that catch fire—a part of the macho-dudical energy drink, x-treme wave—always cause me to recoil in disgust. This usage is supposedly banned at the Alibi, although I saw something referred to as "high-octane" in last week's issue [turns from computer, shudders].

Era, Afro—These words are great in general writing. (“The afro era was also that of the hot pant.” What a fun sentence.) However, afro and era are systematically placed in crossword puzzles. While I realize these little words serve as good filler, crossword puzzle writers are doing the public a disservice with easy answers and by wearing out the poor words.

Riveting—So, did that movie affix steel to steel, or was it just fascinating?

Brutally—As in brutally honest. Jesus H. Christ, find a different way to describe books. And publishers, stop printing these awful review snippets right on the cover.

Quirky—Every time I read or hear the word “quirky,” I think about how the unfortunately square author must have embarrassed the weirdo(s) about whom they wrote. Here are the facts: Glasses, funny haircuts and unusual outlooks on life never, ever call for the use of this horrible, horrible word.

Dropping—When a record is said to be dropping, it recalls school days, specifically casual Fridays when that denim-cloaked, helmet-headed English teacher of a middle aged woman would cut loose and get funky with the hip jive.

Douche—Actually, never mind, douche bag! This word stays.

Despite this vetting of the robust linguistic zeitgeist and the myriad poignant and nuanced insults it is poised to garner, it would behoove me to be proactive and cease this sad opine. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the worst sentences ever written. P.S. Cut it out with the "it is what it is" bullshit. Do you realize that means nothing?

 

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