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Rosie Right

Our language and how it works.


Words to Leave Behind

As the year turns I often look at the words we have worn out in the past 12 months — words that have more than earned their right to retire and live on their pensions. Fortunately, this year a reader has given me a jump start on such a list, sending words and phrases from the corporate world. Each segment of our world has its own vocabulary. Here are my friend's peeves:

Questions or concerns: This often automatically follows even the most mundane correspondence. "There will be cookies in the break room today. Please see me with any questions or concerns."

Bucket: As in, "This project has several components we're going to place in different buckets." Synonymous with "category," but a much less lovely word. Interestingly, "buckets" have nothing to do with another favorite, "putting out fires."

Ideation: A psychological term for the process of coming up with ideas, now overused in corporate settings: "How's the ideation for that project coming?" Alternately, "ideator" — someone who has ideas, i.e., everyone.

Mindshare: Refers to how much awareness/brand familiarity a company commands, with creepy "they put a microchip in my brain to see how much time I spend thinking about Brawny paper towels" overtones.

Thanks to my reader, and I should like to add:

Issues: It is really tired this year, but there is a problem (issue?) finding another word we can use for those difficulties we sometimes face — especially because the sixth definition of "issue," according to Webster's New World College Dictionary, is "a point, matter or question to be disputed or decided."

Out of Office

Where would we be if we didn't have some political words we wish we would never have to hear again?

From the fine Web site posted by the Global Language Monitor based in San Diego, Calif., comes the choice of the top catchphrase of the year:

Stay the course. The Language Monitor president says, "It makes number one because it was declared inoperative." Let's let that one go along with some of the organization's other suggestions for retirement.

Other top words and phrases include, of course, macaca, along with global warming denier, herstory for "history," and Oriental for "Asian."

For others, visit www.language monitor.com.

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