The worst words and phrases of 2014

Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow
Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow

HAVE you heard any words or phrases this year that you thought were simply just ridiculous?

You're not alone. The Plain English Foundation of Australia has today produced its list of the worst words of 2014, with conscious uncoupling taking top place.   

Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband Chris Martin used the phrase earlier this year when announcing they were separating.

"Why do celebrities play these kind of dress ups with the language?" asked Dr Neil James of the Plain English Foundation.  

"There are perfectly good words for what the couple went through: 'separation' or 'divorce'. It isn't any less painful for putting a New Age gloss over it."

Each year, the Plain English Foundation collects dozens of examples of doublespeak, jargon and fancy pants language. Staff then vote on the shortlist and winner. 

Dr James said 2014 year was a particularly notable year for euphemism and spin. 

One corporation described a mine fire as an open cut event. Another explained its exploding airbags were merely experiencing rapid disassembly.

Microsoft took 11 paragraphs of jargon about its appropriate financial envelope to tell 12,500 people they would lose their jobs.   Dr James said people naturally distrust this kind of language.

"The softer version may be convenient for corporations, but the public just want them to get to the point."

More examples include how Qantas explained that a pavement failure (pothole) delayed a flight and we all heard the government talk about efficiency dividends (funding cuts).  

The selfie phenomenon continued to generate some ugly words, such as couplie and legsie which also made the list.   "We usually feature a verbal slip of the year, but in 2014 it was hard to go past the store apologising for any incontinence caused by its freezers not operating," Dr James said.

"And while on the subject of apologies, sport gave us the non-apology of the year when footballer Luis Suarez explained how the physical result of a bite was not, in fact, a bite."

Rounding out the list was the mixed metaphor of the year, where we learned how to fix our budget problems by repairing our roofs under the sun while we are hitting the rocks.      


Conscious uncoupling

Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband, Chris Martin, didn't decide to separate. Instead, they experienced a "conscious uncoupling". Recent sightings of the pair together have prompted speculation about a "conscious recoupling".      

Topics:  editors picks language

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