If the phrase “break the Internet” makes you want to break your computer monitor, you’re not alone.
Lake Superior State University in Michigan has released its annual list of words and phrases that it says should be banished in the new year. That pithy phrase, popularized by a November 2014 Paper magazine cover story on Kim Kardashian, makes the cut.
The 2016 list also includes the notion of starting a sentence with the word “so,” calling issues “problematic,” describing the way a fellow sits as “manspreading” and declaring that something positive is “giving me life!”
The school solicits public input on its website year-round to pick a list of words we can all do without. Its official title: “List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-Use, Over-Use or General Uselessness.”
“Through the years, LSSU has received tens of thousands of nominations for the list, which now includes more than 800 entries,” according to a statement from the school. “Word-watchers target pet peeves from everyday speech, as well as from the news, fields of education, technology, advertising, politics and more. A committee makes a final cut in late December.”
The school shares arguments for word banishment on its website, like this submission in opposition to the opener “so”:
“Tune in to any news channel and you’ll hear it. The word serves no purpose in the sentence and to me is like fingernails on a chalkboard. So, I submit the extra, meaningless, and overused word ‘so,’ ” said Scott Shackleton of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
Several submitters found the word “problematic,” well, problematic.
“Anything that the speaker finds vaguely inconvenient or undesirable, such as an opposing political belief or bad traffic. Contrast things that are self-evidently taken to be problematic with, say, actual problems like a hole in the ozone layer or a job loss,” said Adam Rosen of Asheville, North Carolina.
Business-speak such as “stakeholder,” “walk it back,” “presser” and “price point” grated on many nerves in 2015.
“Often used with ‘engagement.’ If someone is disengaged, they’re not really a stakeholder in the first place. LSSU, please engage your stakeholders by adding this pretentious jargon to your list,” asked Gwendolyn Barlow of Portland, Oregon.
The 2015 list included “bae,” “polar vortex,” “swag,” “foodie” and “cra-cra.”
The tradition was started on New Year’s Day in 1976 by university public relations director Bill Rabe and kept alive after his departure in 1987.