Friday, December 14, 2012

Gagging the "globe" for a "decade"

Jack Bog's Portland blog demonstrates every day the many unfortunate similarities that his city has to San Francisco. Earlier this week he nominated "vibrant" as the gag word of the year in Portland. San Francisco was way ahead of Portland on that one. 

Back in 2005 we noticed how ubiquitous the empty word was. It was/is particularly popular in planning circles. No matter how dumb and destructive a project was/is, it would supposedly make a neighborhood and the city more "vibrant."

When Marshall Foster was in the city's Planning Department, he gave "vibrant" a good workout in an early document that signaled the city's approval of UC's proposal to rip off the old Extension property on lower Haight Street for a massive housing development. Funny how bad projects are often accompanied by crappy use of the language. Foster is now Planning Director in Seattle. You can't keep a flab-gabber down!

While we're at it, let's give a shout-out to shouting down other annoying and ubiquitous usages. There must have been a time when "decade" seemed like a useful variation on "ten years," but that time passed decades ago. Since both terms have two syllables, there's no advantage to "decade" if being succinct is the goal, which it should always be.

Same goes for the widespread use of "globe" instead of plain old "world." Let's banish both "decade" and "globe" from the globe for a few decades and then switch back again.

And the language of hype is contaminating daily conversation via the widespread use of "absolutely," when merely agreeing with someone else, and "yes" and "agreed" would serve just as well.

And the use of the clunky, bulky "upon" when "on" is all that's required continues to contaminate our written language.

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