Friday, August 19, 2011


I'm hitting the road again this Sunday. Philadelphia-thereabouts-bound, in the service of putting one word after the other until I've amassed enough to fill a picture history book on the topic of interest. Before I go, though, I'm scrambling to finish up one project and clear my in-box of the most immediate demands of another.

This latter project has been particularly irksome, a copy editing project for a regional art magazine that pays its writers well, but which doesn't seem to get much in return. At least not for the main features of this issue. Here's what I had to wrangle into some semblance of sense in just two articles alone (Czar, shut your eyes; you've seen these):

“photography studios filled with a cacophony of tools to wrestle the perfect lighting through the lens”

“Zen principles carried out with eerie contemporariness”

“westernized modernizations”

“Kyoto emanating an enticing atmosphere that is serene and calm”

“introspective cave encouraging a reflective inner experience”

And a description of a house as “stone grounding connection to earth at the feet"

With the remaining work, I'm not running into bad phrasing so much as terrible, awful, hellacious word choices. I never thought it possible to actually hate certain words, but, really; I'd like to see us all take a break from using the following any time soon, either in conversation or on the written page. Like, 8-10 years ought to do it. Maybe forever.

Eclectic (I get it, it's unique and quirky. Now, go find another word.)

Synchronicity (I hate it when Sting sings it, I hate it when it's used to describe a relationship, I hate it, period.)

Predilection (There's just something creepy about how this word sounds, like a pervert licking his fingers over a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.)

Penchant (Because I always pronounce it pen–shaunt in my head and that's just ridiculous.)

Munificent (I'm totally okay if you write "really generous"—really.)

Recherche (Rare, but here's one I can't pronounce at all.)

Magical (Perhaps my most un-favorite word of all time, especially when used to describe a painting, sunset, convergence of body mind and spirit, and/or the sensation you feel when confronted with said paintings, sunsets, and convergences, and therefore my number one choice for banishment from the English language forever and ever, amen.)

Come on, help me compile an anti-dictionary: if you could strike one word from the English language, what would it be?


Buzz Kill said...

So you'll be in my neck of the woods. I think it's suppose to be rainy (again). If you're staying in the city, there are lots of good restaurants (Chifa at 7th and Chestnut is a Peruvian/Asian tappas place that the Mrs and I like) and the Phillies aren't back in town until Monday.

My word - Proactive. Someone that tells me to be that wants me to be a fortune teller. And as the Mrs can atest - I'm not. Watch out for the flash mobs.

Pam said...

This could take me a while to compile a list. I'm sure I would have some good entries. You should start a side-bar for words that should be banned.

How about:


Re proactive -- I have had to become proactive in some medical issues. Research, research, look for the right doctor, etc. I don't think it is a bad thing.

Promise to come up with more words soon! Enjoy your week!

sparringK9 said...


just about anything written in puffy high art papers.

for a fine example of art speak bullshitery click here

moi said...

Buzz: Are you in PA? I thought NJ? Then again, everything's so CLOSE to each other up there; it freaks me out. As for proactive: EXCELLENT! On the list it goes . . .

Pam: Wonderful. Although, I do kind of like alarmist.

moi said...

K9: My eyes! My ears! The writer actually wrote limns! That one is definitely going on the list. I agree: there is nothing worse than art writing. Nothing. I juxtapose that we dialogue with the plebeians and then cut their heads off and stick 'em on spikes, which we will then include as part of an installation piece called This is What Happens to People Who Use Words That Suck Ass.

Anonymous said...

3 words banned from the vocabulary of the Gub'ment.

1) Revenues ( to be replaced by taxes)

2) Comprehensive (incomprehensible garbage that we didn't actually read)

3) Investment (to be replaced by "wasteful spending" and/or "payback to special interest group".

Banned from all Generation Yo! resumes:

1) Computer-Literate (very few employers care that you can play angry birds on your apple toy and/or find porno websites)

2) Self-Starter (if you need a gallon of red-bull to summon the energy to leave your mommy's basement, you're not a self-starter)

I received 166 resumes from Generation Yo! "peeps" this week from a new resource I'm giving a test drive. Every freaking one of them is "computer-literate" and a "self-starter".

They proved this by using spell-check without having to be told to do so.

I WOOD like job in SAILS because I like TWO work with a TEEM.

I wouldn't want to ban any words for everyone.

moi said...

Troll: I wouldn't want to ban any words for everyone.

Inching ever closer to the L-word aren't you?

Gooberments have always been afraid of calling a spade a spade. I'd love to be in on some internal congressional correspondence just to bang my head even more.

Generation Yo: Reason #325.a why I'm glad I never had chillruns.

Buzz Kill said...

I'm in Jersey but about 15 miles from center city. The Mrs and I go there from time to time.

Here are some things for you to do:

I can't vouch for any of them, but how bad could they be? Have fun.

Jenny said...

we lived in S.New Jersey while Mr. Boxer was at grad school in Philly. It's a great city, just muggy this time of the year. But the Italian Market is worth a visit. Too bad you're not there on a Saturday.

I have to think about words I don't like. There's a phrase the 30-something marketing people I work with are using nowadays and it drives me nutty:

"Bob asked me to reach out and connect with you on this project."


Safe travels, pal, have a cheese steak and go make some $$$


czar said...

They are of fairly recent vintage, but I'd just as soon never again hear the words "Facebook" or "Twitter."

czar said...

Oh, wait.

The present use of "scale" in business, especially as a verb.

moi said...

Buzz: Wish I had time to check the city out and have some fun, but it's going to be three full days of 8-10 hours of work, after which it will be all I can do to try and hit a gym, grab something to eat, and work on other assignments. Boo. However, I have made it a goal to eat a Cheesesteak sandwich. Because you know what? I don't think I've ever had one.

Boxer: Which is long about the time I flip someone the bird (in my head) and say, connect with this (under my breath). I hate that kind of "speak."

Czar: But scale a mountain is okay, I'm pretty sure. Facebook isn't nearly as bad as Twitter, because of all its little flanker friends: Twit, Tweet, Twat, and Twut.

fishy said...

I love your response to Chickory and please, please, please can we keep the word "bullshittery" ? It sounds like a factory where they mass produce the ... product.

Words to squelch:

and if I hear about just one more 'pivotal experience' I might go postal.

I also would like for people to know the difference between:
climatic and climactic

However do you read the blogs without redlining us all?

moi said...

Fishy: Very nice choices, especially trending and pivotal. On the list they go. And Bullshitery is the A-Number One Word of the Week—everybody must use it immediately and often. Blogging is riffing, off the cuff. No redlining allowed :o) Although the question is probably more properly directed at Czar, who is a true-blue professional copy editor. I just play one for a couple clients.

Buzz Kill said...

If you're going to eat a cheesesteak, you need to go to either Pat's or Geno's. They're across from each other at 9th and Passyunk. Any cab driver can get you there.

LaDivaCucina said...

Super. Especially as in "we are super excited about this project." It's not a fancy pants word but definitely over used.

And I still have real issues with the word "gift" as a verb.

I remember reading about a rule to choosing words when writing: pick the easiest, most common word, in other words (ha!) don't get too clever. Is that true? Does it still apply? (if it ever did?)

Funny post, Moi, and I can so relate to the first photo. Happy Travels, my friend, and don't let the nasty TSA get you! xo

Pam said...

I had an English teacher in the 8th grade who would send your papers back to you for using the word "get". She said there was ALWAYS a better word to use or a better way to say it than "get". I still rarely use it. Good thing the Beatles didn't know that rule when writing "Get Back", eh?

How about adding: Chillaxin'

Now I want to go to Philly and eat cheesesteaks, and apply for a job working for Troll.

Troll, what is the job? Maybe you should hire me!

moi said...

Buzz: Coolio, thanks!

La Diva: Very good. Super and gift-as-a-verb are now on the list. All rules can be broken. The trick is, they need to be broken very, very well. Otherwise, as you point out, choosing the simplest, most Anglo-Saxon-rooted words is a good rule of thumb. I'll be thinking of you having your fabulous fete this weekend as I'm chowing down on airport food :o).

Pam: I'm not sure what, exactly, Troll does for a living, but I say, let's all go work for him and girl up the bridge a bit.

czar said...

I don't think about redlining blogs. I'm off-duty when I'm reading them and when I'm writing comments.

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