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Curating gets grating: forced retirement?

Like stale madeleines, forbidden words can evoke forgotten times. In 1972, E. B. White proscribed "uptight," "vibes," "copout," and "groovy." Four years later, Lake Superior State University in Michigan began issuing an annual hit list of trendy-turned-hackneyed words, including "detente" (1976), "yuppie" (1986), "multitasking" (1997), and "metrosexual" (2004). John Shibley and Thomas Pink of LSSU curate the "List of Words Banished From the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse, and General Uselessness."

The verb "curate," as it happens, is a candidate for the list. "I have grown to detest this innocent word," lexicographer Sara Hawker recently told More Intelligent Life (Nov.-Dec. 2013). "It's a form of self-inflation, used to convey the idea that the person concerned has some expert knowledge.... It's now so widely used that it's become just a way of saying 'select.'"

Originally, curating took place only in museums. It seeped into performance spaces in 1982, when The New York Times credited a dancer with curating an evening program in the East Village. In the digital context, it has now gone viral (a word on the LSSU list of 2011). Curating, the Journal of Interactive Media in Education explained last year, is "what we are all doing online."

We don't curate Etruscan pottery; we curate Twitter feeds. Let's hope "curate" soon resumes its proper place--as a museum piece.

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Title Annotation:FINDINGS; uses of curate in sentences
Author:Bates, Stephen
Publication:The Wilson Quarterly
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2014
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