University declares ‘whatever’ overused

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (College Press Exchange) — If you do “aromatherapy” in your “downtime,” then perhaps you should “get a life.” Or get a new vocabulary, suggests a Michigan university. Whatever.
Actually, “whatever” is the most overused phrase of 1996, according to the Lake Superior State University’s 21st annual “List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness.” Each year, the university asks high school students, teachers and parents to nominate certain phrases that, arguably, have no place in the English language.
“Whatever what? Whatever I want? Whatever I need? It doesn’t make any sense,” said Rachel Bivens, a high school student from Manton, Mich.
The wordsmiths also frown on “as if,” an expression popularized by the movie “Clueless.” The phrase may be used interchangeably with “Duh,” which is just as useless, the university said.
Not only slang phrases, but terms like “aromatherapy” have gotten under people’s skin, too.
“This catchy word can be found on the labels of everything from shampoo bottles to air freshener. If it’s truly ‘therapy,’ perhaps it should come at a higher price,” said Michelle Batterbee Fox, an Ellsworth, Mich., teacher.
Scores of teachers complained that computer terms such as “downtime” have infiltrated the Queen’s English. “It may be all right when applied to computers, but not humans,” said Polly Fields, a Lake Superior State English professor.
Also nixed was “multi-tasking.”
“‘Doing several things at once,’ said it all,” said Donna Gayon, a Perry, Mich., high school teacher.
And what about the old favorite, “get a life?”
“(It’s) a worn-out phrase which has somehow escaped the list until now,” said Chris Gailus, a broadcast journalist from Calgary, Alberta.