There’s a phrase that I use – and maybe overuse – in my posts.
But it seems to perfectly fit the moment, my jaw-dropping moment of astonishment and disbelief about something.
Like in late December, when the illustrious and articulate Marjorie Taylor Greene, referring to Kwanzaa, tweeted:
My astonishment and disbelief were expressed this way:
That “Wait” part means, “Wait a minute. I need to catch my breath. I need to regroup. I need to try to make some sense of this, though there is no sense to be made of it.”
The “What” part means, “Did I just hear/read/see what I think I did? Did I misunderstand? Can somebody help me out here?”
Yes, Marjorie Taylor Greene did tweet that.
Happily, on January 2 Twitter permanently suspended Greene’s account, though not for her Kwanzaa tweet. But any reason to shut her down is good enough for me:
No “Wait…What?” needed here.
I have no jaw-dropping astonishment, no disbelief, that this crazed woman’s personal Twitter account was suspended, and I’m delighted to hear it’s permanent.
That was the good news on January 2.
But I got some bad news on January 2, as well.
That’s when I saw a story stating that my favorite “Wait…What?” is now on the 2022 Banished Words List:
And not just on the list – it tops the list:
And my “Wait…What?” appears as a subhead in this news release from Lake Superior State University (LSSU), originators of the list:
The university’s website offers some background on its list:
“In 1976, the late and ingenious Lake Superior State University Public Relations Director W.T. (Bill) Rabe released the first tongue-in-cheek ‘banished words list’ as a safeguard against misuse, overuse, and uselessness of the English language – and as an imaginative publicity stunt. National and international reaction from the news media and the general public was so enthusiastic that Rabe predicted the Banished Words List, as he put it, ‘would go on forever.’”
We’re also told that the school receives “tens of thousands of nominations for the list,” and for 2022’s list those nominations came from “most major U.S. cities and many U.S. states, on top of Norway, Belgium, England, Scotland, Australia, and numerous provinces in Canada.”
I certainly agree that there are words that should be banished – “Marjorie Taylor Greene” being three of them.
But…my beloved “Wait…What?” is banished?
And why is that at the top of the list?
Here’s the explanation:
1. Wait, what?
Most frequently found in text or on social media, this ubiquitous imperative question is a failed “response to a statement to express astonishment, misunderstanding, or disbelief,” explained a wordsmith. “I hate it,” added another, because the command query is an inexact method to convey the utterer’s uncertainty or surprise. “I don’t want to wait,” either, continued the second impassioned nominator. Misuse and overuse.
Here’s the full list, with “Wait What?” in the largest font:
Here’s its companion image, of past Banished Words and the year they made the list:
Seriously? “Okay” made the list in 1979, and “No” in 1985?
Who are these people, trying to banish “Okay” and “No” and – worst of all – “Wait…What?” from our vernacular?
Research reveals that Lake Superior State University was founded in 1946, and has around 2,000 students, giving it “the distinction of Michigan’s smallest public university.”
I suspect it may also be Michigan’s coldest university. LSSU is located in Sault St. Marie, in Michigan’s upper peninsula, near the Canadian border:
Here’s a closer look:
According to a website that rates places to live:
“Sault Ste. Marie averages 109 inches of snow per year. The US average is 28 inches of snow per year.”
“The annual BestPlaces Comfort Index for Sault Ste. Marie is 5.7 (10=best), which means it is one of the least comfortable places in Michigan.”
So, considering all that snow and discomfort, I figure back in 1976 the folks at LSSU were sitting around, snowbound and shivering and uncomfortable, and somebody said, “Hey! Let’s warm things up by putting together a list words that are misused, overused, and useless! I’ll get us started. Hmmm…let’s see. How about ‘détente’? And, ah…‘input’? Oh! And ‘macho’! Yeah, I really hate that one!”
Well, however the list came about, this year the folks at LSSU have gone too far.
I’m OK with the other words on the list, especially this one:
10. Supply chain
Word-watchers noticed the frequent, unfortunate appearance of this phrase toward the end of this year as the coronavirus persisted. “It’s become automatically included in reporting of consumer goods shortages or perceived shortages. In other words, a buzzword,” concluded one analyst. “Supply chain issues have become the scapegoat of everything that doesn’t happen or arrive on time and of every shortage,” noticed another. The adverse result: overuse ad nauseam.
So, my beloved “Wait…What?” has been banished.
But I choose to continue being out of step with the times, and continue using it.
Because nothing else so ably expresses my jaw-dropping moment of astonishment and disbelief about something.
Like when Marjorie Taylor Green, after being permanently banned from Twitter, then and only then decided:
“Twitter is an enemy to America and can’t handle the truth.”
Which is rather amusing, when you consider that Greene still has her official congressional account @RepMTG, and is still using it, as recently as January 13: