2019 is upon us, and with the constant political, cultural and technological advances happening around us, it comes as no surprise that the English language is rapidly developing to reflect these changes. However, whilst many of us are naturally adopting new jargon and incorporating it into our everyday language, not everybody is quite so accepting.
Lake Superior University in Michigan has just released its 44th annual list of ‘words banished from the Queen’s English for misuse, overuse and general uselessness’. The tongue-in-cheek list, which is compiled from nominations of language ‘pet peeves’ from around the world, includes long-established words such as ‘eschew’ and ‘accoutrements’ and well as newer jargon influenced by modern culture. These range from ‘ghosting’, which means to end a relationship suddenly and without explanation, to ‘yeet’ which refers to either a type of dance, to vigorously throw something, or as an expression of excitement – as you might be able to tell I’m not too sure on that one, even after a stint on Urban Dictionary.
However, as Independent journalist Emma Ross observed, by rejecting these terms widely used by younger generations and used over social media, LSSU could actually be dismissing the latest wave of youth culture. After all, cultural changes have led to many different and new words entering common language through the decades. She comments, “New words encapsulate generations. They capture how we’re acting, how we’re feeling, and are actually pretty good indicators for what we’ll be thinking over the year ahead too. The idea that one word is somehow inferior to another is nothing more than snobbery. It’s the idea that the language you or I grew up with is somehow superior to the one the next generation is speaking.” As she quite rightly points out, if we refused to accept new language, we wouldn’t have ‘bungalow’ or ‘jodhpur’. Whilst these nouns may have initially seemed phonetically unusual or unnecessary, they’re now part of everyday conversations.
I personally found one of the more amusing inclusions on LSSU’s list to be the term ‘thought leader’, which is something we probably hear everyday here at Skout! In B2B PR, particularly where we’re aiming to get our clients seen and heard in their field of expertise, thought leadership is a key strategy. However, admittedly it is an over-used term which has become a catch all for sharing opinions, rather than actually being seen as leading thinking on a particular issue or specific market.
Even business, where we’d expect to find the most formal language, is changing. Whilst very straight-to-the-point and formal communication used to be the norm and considered the professional way to email, this is now more likely to be perceived as blunt or rude. Email was first introduced to make letters electronic, yet now most emails these days don’t take the style of a letter at all. We’re increasingly changing work communications to be more conversational and personable. Whether it’s acceptable to put a smiley in a work email however, is another debate entirely!
What do you think of Lake Superior University’s list of banished words? We’d love to hear your thoughts (even though you can’t now be a thought leader – sorry)! Leave us a comment below.