The Austin Chronicle

Words for a Desert Island

By Sarah Hepola, January 7, 2000, Screens

Okay, you should just as soon fire me as take away my e-mail. So when the staff brought up the idea of top 10s for a deserted island (and it's a deserted island, people, not a desert island -- but I missed that meeting), my mind began to percolate with the gadgets and gizmos I'd need. But that list -- computer, modem, telephone, television -- seemed to seriously challenge the notion of deserted (Who's going to set this stuff up anyway? I know it's not going to be me). So instead, I thought I'd compile a list of words I'd just as soon never see or hear again now that we've crossed that bridge to the 21st century. These are words to leave on a deserted island.

Some of them are just words we're all sick and tired of -- the words Will Smith constructs his raps around (I actually love Will, but the millennium song was just too much for me). Some of them are cumbersome little bugaboos we need to put out of commission. Sure, technology has infiltrated our speech with warp speed, but must it really muddle the language of Shakespeare and Milton? With our acronyms and foreboding cyber-this and cyber-that, our modern vernacular is just plain boring. Try writing soliloquies around a URL -- or imagine if Romeo had wooed Juliet with a few FAQ. So in the year 2000, let's put a splash of style back into our alphabet soup. Let's agree that leaving out vowels in a word doesn't really save us any time. Let's agree that being Y2K-anything is decidedly not OK. Let's band together to make sure the following clunky words are left on a deserted island (and send Yanni while we're at it!) -- and let's never hear them again.

1. Y2K. Nothing less than total annihilation of this word will satisfy me.

2. double-u, double-u, double-u. Try saying that five times fast. But then, why should you have to?

3. FAQ. Here's my frequently asked question: Who uses this term with a straight face?

4. millennium. No one spells it right anyway.

5. millennial. More popular than its noun form, this poor little guy was like the sweatshop worker of adjectives -- exploited, misused, and I'm sure Kathie Lee had something to do with it (thank god I got in a jab at Kathie Lee).

6. Just lose it. Just. Lose. It.

7. IPO. To "go public" sounds like so much more fun!

8. NASDAQ. Doesn't "stock exchange" have such a nice ring?

9. PDA. Ugh, you businesspeople and your little toys! Personally, I think people just don't want to be guilty of having a "personal digital assistant."

10. forwarded e-mails. Okay it's not a phrase -- it's a terrible, troubling pattern of behavior! No, I don't want 10 thoughts for the day. No, I don't want to fill out a questionnaire about myself and send it to five friends. Oh, cruel fate: And you people were supposed to be my friends!

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