The Atlantic Wire, the "what matters now"(!) division of the ever-insufferable Atlantic, is on top of the trend and has published an A to Z list of the "worst words" of 2012. The list of words we're supposedly supposed to stop using includes such common interjections as "really" (really?!) and "ugh," basic concrete nouns like "hashtag," "vagina" (these things just mean what they mean, folks, those are the words for those things) and "quinoa" (clearly included simply because they chose the odious alphabet format), as well as brilliant acronyms like "TLDR" and "YOLO." What do these humorless pricks have against slang? Naturally, "hipster" is on there, but isn't it tres hipster to denounce a term just because it's popular or, as they say of the portmanteau, has "jumped the shark"? (No longer are we denouncing only single terms, whole categories of word formation get the boot.)
I'm just going to object to their objections on a couple of these:
Ping: They quote someone from Gizmodo saying "I hate ping because it means the exact same thing as contact. There's no difference between ping and contact." A) "Contact" itself is a perfect example of language change, since it used to be a noun and then got verbed, much like "impact" (another word that the word snobs frequently "ding"). Why can't you let the language change?! B) "Ping" and "contact" are not the same, because tone matters. "Contact" sounds needlessly formal in the context in which people use the word "ping." You might tell a job applicant that you'll "contact" them within 2 weeks, but you tell your chummy coworker to "ping" you when they have those slides ready. It's a workplace-specific "LMK."
Slacks: I feel like most word snobbery comes down to a kind of ageism. When you're young, you hate words that old people use. When you're old, you hate words that young people use. "Slacks" belongs to the former category. Why else would people hate this word? I think it's cute and funny and, like "trousers," it conjures a particular kind of pant, so it's not purely synonymous with "pants." I also support "blouse" and "hose" and even the once-detested "panties," though I still don't and can't use it to refer to my own undergarments with a straight face.
I give them "glocal" which sounds stupid but honestly, I had never heard it before reading the list. But I don't understand the problem with Urban Dictionary-style neologisms like "butt-chugging," "brogrammer" and "YOLO." These words are hilarious! I mean, don't these stodgy journos realize that words like this are always already ironic? At least half the time, they are used with camp.
And can somebody tell me what is wrong with the word "moist"? It's not on this particular list, but this perfectly serviceable word is so despised that someone suggested we refer to well-made baked goods by synonyms like "hydrated" and "spongy." All I can say is, Ugh. Keep your hydrated, spongy pumpkin bread well away from me.
OK, enough of that. I have a couple of links to share with you. I have a few new poans up in the December issue of Everyday Genius, guest-edited by Sandra Simonds. This is one of them:
What I miss about childhood is awe – the filter of inexperience, without the further filter of inadequacy, shame. But shame, a friend told me, can be comforting. Adulthood is knowing that someone is watching, an increasing sensation of things being fixed. When I hear the song for the second time, what I like is its familiarity. It has not become more beautiful, nor have I gained access to its beauty.
In honor of the end, Dustin Luke Nelson put together The Last Reading on Earth, Ever: A Marathon Reading of Apocalyptic Writing, including video readings by Amaranth Borsuk, Heather Christle, Amelia Gray, Matt Hart, Becca Klaver, Michael Martone, Joseph Michael Owens, Christopher Salerno, Bianca Stone, Mathias Svalina, Maureen Thorson, Rachel Zucker and many more, including me (reading "Pitville," a poem I co-wrote with Kathleen Rooney; it appears in That Tiny Insane Voluptuousness). I seem very sad in the video, but I guess that's appropriate for the end of the world. You can watch all the videos on the InDigest Mag tumblr, or on YouTube.
Love to you all, and a happy new year.