The word-watchers at Lake Superior State University have spoken and it's up to the rest of us to take notice of their 2009 List of Banished Words (and phrases). These are the terms that are misused, overused and/or generally useless, according to these word-banishment experts.
Here at Earth to Philly it's especially relevant that their most fervent opposition is to... you guessed it... 'Green.' "The ubiquitous 'Green' and all of its variables, such as 'going green,' 'building green,' 'greening,' 'green technology,' 'green solutions' and more, drew the most attention from those who sent in nominations this year," the official list notes.
It's a fair cop - the word is definitely overused, and that's one of the reasons it doesn't appear in the title of this blog. But some of the objections seem to confuse word usage with the behavior behind it. One commentator promised that "If I see one more corporation declare itself 'green,' I'm going to start burning tires in my backyard." Well, fine, if you must, but it's not the fault of the term that companies are attempting greenwashing. Er, that is, earth-consciousness-washing.
Kevin Sherlock of Iowa says: "If something is good for the environment, just say so. As Kermit would say, 'It isn't easy being green.'" Well, no... duh, Sherlock. But you should get a word-usage smackdown for trotting out Kermit's song title for the one millionth time in reference to the environment.
And another term-nominator complains that 'leaving a carbon footprint' has become the new 'politically incorrect.' "How can we not, in one way or another, affect our natural environment?" Well, obviously we can't not affect it, but if you'd been paying attention you'd know that 'carbon footprint' is used in questions of how much we're affecting it, i.e. what size the footprint is. Shouldn't you first grasp how a term is used by the masses before calling for its banishment?
Still, these cranky word-watchers have their finger on an interesting phenomenon: 'Green' as a topic area is not going to fade away, even as more and more people get sick of hearing the word overused. So what new terms will emerge to fill the gap? You can get a jump on 2009 usage by submitting them here... and seeing if they get enough traction to wind up on the 2010 Banished Words list!