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Frank Gray


Using this buzzword a broken trend

Every year a new set of buzzwords and buzz phrases work their way into our language.

If you want to be modern, trendy, cutting edge, you’ve got to learn to use these buzzwords. The notion, flawed as it is, seems to be that if you are up to the minute on the latest made-up phraseology, you must be up to the minute on the rest of the field you are in.

The danger with knowing these phrases and words is that they quickly fall out of fashion.

Every year people come up with a list of worn-out phrases and terms that people have become sick of and that people in the know should quit using lest they become labeled as dinosaurs and fall out of favor.

By the end of this year, new lists will doubtlessly make the news, and I hope that one word in particular makes the list.


People have been overusing and abusing the word broken for several years now.

We all know what broken means. When the plastic gears on your VCR fall apart, the machine is broken. It doesn’t work and it can’t be fixed.

When the timing belt on your car breaks, the car stops running. It becomes broken. You have to tow the car somewhere and pay someone a lot of money to take the engine apart and replace the belt. Until that happens, your car is broken, worthless.

Watches become broken, pitchfork handles become broken, washing machines become broken and have to be discarded and replaced.

In the past few years, though, politicians have latched onto the word.

We’ve all been told that America’s health care system is broken.

We’ve been told the immigration system is broken.

The criminal justice system is broken, and the other day someone announced that the Senate was broken.

I’m tired of hearing it. The health care system isn’t broken.

The immigration system isn’t broken. We have our laws on immigration. They are in force. We’re overrun by undocumented aliens, but that’s not because our immigration system is broken.

And all the other broken systems aren’t broken.

It’s just that politicians and others have found out the easiest way to attract attention and get your name in the news is to declare something or another broken.

It’s easy to do. You don’t have to put forth an argument. You don’t have to provide details. All you have to do is use the word broken.

What is broken?

Libya is broken.

Somalia is broken.

Syria is broken.

But we’re not broken, not even our ability to have meaningful discussions about the problems we face, if we try.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others’ experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.