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Tuesday, January 2, 2007
Not About Politics

Here are some relatively apolitical notes on the English language, jazz, and funeral music.

I have some political things simmering for later. But first, here are some apolitical notes.

Banished Words and Phrases

First, Lake Superior State University is in the news again, briefly, as they usually are at this time of year, and for the usual reason. In a press release dated December 31, 2006, we find the "32nd Annual List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness." Here are three of my favorites from the list, with the comments from the press release:

  • undocumented alien -- "If they haven't followed the law to get here, they are by definition 'illegal.' It's like saying a drug dealer is an 'undocumented pharmacist.'" -- John Varga, Westfield, New Jersey.
  • chipotle -- "Prior to 2005 . . . a roasted jalapeno. Now we have a 'chipotle' burrito with 'chipotle' marinated meat, 'chipotle' peppers, sprinkled with a 'chipotle' seasoning and smothered in a 'chipotle' sauce. Time to give this word a rest." -- Rob Zeiger, Bristol, Pennsylvania.
  • healthy food -- Point of view is everything. Someone told Joy Wiltzius of Fort Collins, Colorado, that the tuna steak she had for lunch "sounded healthy." Her reply: "If my lunch were healthy, it would still be swimming somewhere. Grilled and nestled in salad greens, it's 'healthful.'"

You can make your own nominations for the next list.

A Nominee of My Own: "Home to" . . . What?

I think KSL's Greg Wrubel has done an excellent job filling Paul James' shoes as the "voice of the BYU Cougars." However, I experience a visceral frustration every time he uses the phrase "home to" in listing today's games, yesterday's scores, or the Cougars' next few games.

"The Jazz are home to the Lakers tonight," he will say. If words meant anything in this case, this awkward construction would mean the Jazz are at the Lakers' arena (their home) tonight. But what Wrubel means when he says this is that the Lakers are playing the Jazz at the Gamma Quadrant, the Larry, or whatever you want to call what used to be the Delta Center in Salt Lake City. His "home to" actually means "playing at home against," or something like that -- almost exactly the opposite of what the words seem to mean.

You'll think I'm overreacting, but for me this is worse than fingernails on a chalkboard. It's much worse than network newscasters' irritating tendency to use incomplete sentences where a complete one would fit perfectly well -- but perhaps that's a topic for another day. Sometimes I just stop listening. Sometimes I turn the radio off.

Speaking of Jazz . . .

For Christmas someone gave me the Crescent Super Band's new album, East Coast Envy. This group of Utah high school all-stars plays some good jazz, in this case with the help of some big-name soloists. I'm partial to the title track and "Blue Rondo a la Turk," but the whole album is good. (The Crescent Super Band is sponsored by The Music School in American Fork, Utah.)

One More Musical . . . ahem . . . Note

I think we'd have to call the Associate Director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Mack Wilberg, a reluctant local celebrity. (We'd also have to call him a genius.) His latest accomplishments include a pair of arrangements the Armed Forces Chorus and the United States Marine Orchestra performed today at the funeral of former President Gerald Ford. (Here's the funeral program.)

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