The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. —THOMAS JEFFERSON, 1788

New Year's resolution: Let's ban ‘fiscal cliff’ from vernacular

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Edward Sapir: “Languages drift down time.”

As of this writing (my computer clock currently reads 1 p.m.), the New Year is T minus 11 hours away and counting. What better way to ring in 2013 than to “deep six” words and phrases in English that are likely to give offense?

No, the reference is not to four-letter words (where would we be without them?) but to phrases like “deep six,” or at least its metaphorical companion, “bucket list.”

Reuters notes that Lake Superior State University has come out with its annual list of overused terms that should be expurgated from the language. I am not sure whether LSSU has either a linguistics or anthropology department, but I suspect the school has a library, in which case they might want to obtain for their collection a copy of “Language,” the slender volume penned in 1921 by linguistic anthropologist Edward Sapir. This germinal work explains, at times with a delightfully rhetorical flourish, how language change happens. Spoiler alert: It is not by fiat.

But I digress. So which terms do the word police at Lake Superior want to put permanently on ice? Well, “spoiler alert” (used in the previous paragraph) is one of them. Ditto for “kick the can down the road” and — it perhaps goes without saying — “fiscal cliff.”

Another term scheduled for extinction is “YOLO,” which is an acronym for ‘you only live once.” It inclusion was proposed by Brendan Cotter, of Grosse Pointe Park, Mich., who quipped, “I only live once, so I’d prefer to be able to do it without ever seeing YOLO again.” According to the Reuters release:

The small, public university has published its annual ‘List of Words to be Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness’ since New Year’s Day in 1976. It is culled mostly from nominations by English-language enthusiasts through the school’s website

But don’t call them ‘gurus’ — the term is among the dozen words and phrases on this year’s list they want eliminated from the news, advertising, politics and general usage.

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Howard Portnoy has written for HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.

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