It must be the association, the sound, or the experience of some words in a context that makes them intolerable. A teacher who may have said something often, probably in rebuke and punishment, a verbal tick, that stayed in your ear and forever since, that word or phrase is ugly.

The fact that some words have this power shows how linguistically attuned humans are, or how words talk through us. Words mean something profound that they can have a psycho-physical effect. Apparently the most reviled word is moist – at least as Slate reported it. Moist is pretty much vile across the US and that seems a pity. A pity because some people are so revolted by moist they would like it removed from the language.

I don’t like removing words; its better they should retire or fall into disuse out of evolutionary changes than be mandated out of existence because of sensitivities.

Removing words from the English language is not a good idea at all. The size of the English vocabulary is its paramount achievement. Its grammar is quite basic, certainly nowhere as refined and discrete as French, but in vocabulary, English is ace.

In defense of moist, it may not be the word but the repetition of the adjective in advertising, and how often we are subjected to ads every day that makes us hate moist. Advertisers want our mouths to water on cakes, chicken and cookies that are moist. When they do, our open wallets and purses are sure to follow.

If we ban words we should ban marketers’ usage. In order to do that we’d need an advertising panel that oversaw the frequency of adjectives in advertising and when pre-set thresholds are met, the adjective has to be removed. This might protect the public from moist, delicious, tasty and many other irritating ad-jectives.
The chances of it happening are very remote. Easier to switch of the ads and read a good book.

My own short list of bad words and phrases comprises business jargon, euphemisms, or irrelevant abstractions to raise the status of an act or thing. For instance, when something is inappropriate, the action may have been wrong, lewd, impolite or coarse. Inappropriate is phony. As another example, when socialize is used as a verb to mean share. Unnecessary phrasal verbs are verbiage. In a business setting to reach out is an insincere use of friendly language between business peers. It perverts the use of language in social context. Either contact or call, are better choices.

Sadly, however, as there are no custodians of the language (fortunately) we must suffer in silence.

Guy Cranswick
10 April 213