A rant about our use of the English language.
|The word irregardless is misused everyday. Politicians misuse it. Teachers misuse it. Priests misuse it. Sportscasters and journalists are most guilty of misusing it. People use it to begin a declaration. People use it to justify a course of action. People use it to dispute another’s point of view. So what is the correct usage of the word irregardless?
That’s right, folks, there is no correct usage of the word irregardless. How is this possible? Because the word irregardless is not a word. It is not a word in English. Nor is irregardless a word in German, French, Haitian-Creole, Pig Latin, or even Spanglish.
We have all heard people in making light of President George W. Bush’s unique interpretation of the English language. Let he who is without this sin cast the first politically charged quip. I know that strategery and compassionativity are not real words, but are they any more brainless than irregardless? If you do not get this point I suggest you look up the word hypocrisy.
I tested my irregardless theory by typing it in the title of this article. My thinking was that MSWord would not recognize it and notify me of its nonexistence with one of those adorable squiggly red lines. I was almost right. Surprisingly Word did recognize it, but it also provided the slightly less adorable squiggly green line. When I right clicked on the word, Bill Gates informed me that irregardless is a “non-standard word,” a.k.a. slang. He then went on to suggest that I replace it with a word that actually does exist, notably the word regardless.
I understand that the English language is liquid. As our society and technology evolves so does our vocabulary. Three decades ago the word Internet did not exist. Inter existed as did net, but not Internet. When I was a child using the slang ain’t was cause for a note to my mother. These days it ain’t as bad as it once was. I trust that before I die I will hear the Prime Minister of England in an address to Parliament say, “We are fixin’ to adjourn to the anteroom for tea and crumpets.”
One could also say that if enough people misuse irregardless that it will become a normal part of the American lexicon. It has happened before. A look at a dictionary from the fifties will most likely produce only one pronunciation for the word pecan. That would be puh-kahn. Thumb through a modern dictionary and you might find as many as three pronunciations, puh-kahn, pē-kahn, and pē-can. Enough people (or at least enough people named Webster) mispronounced the word that it is now correct to use any of the three.
It is possible that our civilization may perhaps erode enough to allow this to happen with irregardless, but to what end? The dictionary entry might look like this:
ir-re-gard-less, v, (origin – ignorance, most likely derived from regardless). Definition –regardless.
Why invent a bigger word to replace a word we already have that contains fewer letters and one less syllable? Because we all want people to think we are intelligent. If we admit that irregardless is not a word then we look less intelligent for having used it, but here is the catch, Mr. Professor, if you use the word irregardless in a sentence then you not only appear unintelligent, you are unintelligent.
Use it in a public address and you lose a third of your audience. Why? Because now all they can focus on is that irregardless is not a word. They may begin ruminating on what an imbecile you must be. They might rant in their head. In my case I would recite this very rant in my head, with a Scottish accent because I love the way they roll their “R’s.”
Nevertheless, you have lost them and it is doubtful that you will get them back, especially if you go on by mispronouncing the word applicable. It is not uh-plic-able beginning with a mind numbing uh and placing the emphasis on the plic. Have you ever filled out a job uh-plic-ation? No, you filled out an ap-pli-cation. The word is ap-pli-cable. Emphasis on the a, soft pli, and followed by a strong cable.
It should not be that hard to replace irregardless, just substitute it with regardless. It is practically the same sound just without the ir. To err is human, to ir is inane. It is just a syllable; let it go. Ever heard a professor give a 1500 syllable term paper? Eliminate the extra syllable and you begin the journey from dolt to scholar.
In summation and in review:
Irregardless – not a word, pecan can be pronounced puh-kahn, pē-kahn, and pē-can, while applicable can only be pronounced ap-pli-cable, the Scottish sound cool when they roll their “R’s,” and the Prime Minister may one day use fixin’ in a sentence. All and all, that ain’t too bad.