Thursday, January 22, 2009

More Banned Words or Phrases

Heard and/or Read Within the Past Week in Central Texas

I keep getting suggestions for more “banned words or phrases”. I write them down various places. I may include them. I may have lost some. But, this past week has been a dam-breaker. All of the wrong usages, clichés, and other language atrocities burst forth. Maybe it was because there was so much live broadcasting and speaking and writing before thinking this past seven days. It is like a sign that was given to me as a kid saying something like, “Warning: Engage Brain Before Operating Mouth”.

So, here is yet another list of “Banned Words or Phrases Along with Other Atrocities”:

> Austin’s City Manager Marc A. Ott uttered one of my pet peeves: "Reoccur." I’m sorry Mr. Manager, the word is "recur." Look it up. Geez.

> NBC main anchor Brian Williams nailed another peeve like hitting a sore thumb again and again, hour after hour. He repeatedly referred to the big domed building where Congress meets as “the capitol building”. No, Mr. Williams who makes big bucks for saying things to millions. It is simply the “capitol”. The capitol IS a building. What you said is redundant. Look it up. Geez.

> Another news reporter referred to the lost U.S. Air jet engine as “completely submerged”. Well, submerged means covered. It means underwater. So, the above phrase is also redundant. Look it up. Geez.

> Rachel Maddow and many, many other reporters referred to one of the passengers on Flight 1549 as having suffered “two broken legs.” Geez. How many other legs did she have? Or did she break legs belonging to someone else?

> MSNBC Anchor/Satirist Keith Olbermann reporting the same story said “…the aircraft suffered…” No. I’ve covered this before. Living things suffer. People on board U.S. Air flight 1549 suffered, but the aircraft did not. It was damaged.

> Same story on Fox news, another blown usage: The aircraft was moored “so that it doesn’t drift further …” No. Sorry. You meant to say “farther” meaning distance. Two local weather anchors used “further” instead of “farther” this week too. We’ve been here before too. Look it up. Geez.

> A local fill-in anchor repeatedly referred to Ehud Olmert, the prime minister of Israel, using something like a French pronunciation of his last name. Instead of eh-HOO-D OH-L-mehrt (Source: Voice of America), the last name was pronounced on the air Ohl-MER. I’m sure Prime Minister Olmert wasn’t listening, but it doesn’t help credibility.

The next ones on my list are oldies but baddies, and they were uttered this weekend in various contexts:

> Future plans. Now, I know. This is a gray area. Both of these words are perfectly fine found alone or combined with other adjectives. They communicate. But, combined, it is my contention that this phrase is redundant. Yeah, I know …

> Over crowded. The “American Heritage Dictionary” accepts this usage. But, in my mind, if something is crowded already, how can it be overcrowded? Yeah, I know…

> Stable condition. My former colleague Shane Dietert is now managing editor of the Fox station in Little Rock. He writes that one of his reporters wrote that “a shooting victim was in stable condition. I have spent three days trying to explain to him that stable isn't a condition—the person is in critical condition but stable.” I suppose somebody can have stable vital signs, but not have a definite condition. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 or “HIPAA” also comes into play protecting privacy. But, there you go, Shane.

And finally, we went to a commercial break. It was a used car advertisement, but these we’re just ordinary used cars and trucks, the announcer said. “These are ‘certified’ used cars and trucks!” Yep. They’re used alright. I wonder what government agency certifies used cars and trucks. Maybe the new administration will abolish it.

Once again, I invite your words and phrases. I also invite creativity—Make sentences using them all!

© Jim McNabb, 2009


Eric Poteet said...

Another great column. My newscast picks for the week, all during Gaza coverage (you beat me to the Ehud Ohlmert example):
-impacted (affected)
-forte (one's gift or skill, mispronounced FOR-tay)
-cache (a bunch o' guns, mispronounced cash-AY)

Soldier on, my friend!

Ray Niekamp said...

Unfortunately, reporters will sometimes report that someone is in "stable" condition because that's what they were told by the hospital. I once got into a rather testy discussion (I shouted at her--I was on deadline) with a duty nurse who refused to say anything about a shooting victim other than that he was in "stable" condition.