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MMD > Archives > December 1997 > 1997.12.26 > 24Prev  Next


"Irregardless"
By Joyce Brite

Every source I consulted concurred that "irregardless" is a non-
standard word.  My Random House Dictionary described it well:

  "Irregardless is considered nonstandard because it is redundant:
   once the negative idea is expressed by the -less ending, it is
   excessive to add the negative ir- prefix to express the same."

I then consulted The Oxford English Dictionary, _the_ authoritative
English dictionary.

 "Irregardless, a. and adv.  Chiefly N. Amer.  [Prob. blend of
  irrespective and regardless.]  In non-standard or humorous use:
  regardless."

The O.E.D. goes on to cite examples where "irregardless" first
appeared in print.  The earliest citation was in 1912 in the American
Dialectical Dictionary by Wentworth.  The next example was in 1923 when
an article appeared in the Literary Digest titled, "Is there such a
word as `irregardless' in the English language?" Apparently, the
controversy has been around for a long time.

Some believe that since the word has been used repeatedly in widespread
usage, it has become acceptable, and therefore, a legitimate word.
I disagree.  Repetitive errors do not gain legitimacy simply because of
their frequency.  To make an analogy, it's like saying that because so
many people have used incorrect methods and materials for repairing and
restoring player pianos over the years, therefore, the incorrect
methods and materials are now proper and acceptable!

How important is using proper English?  I recall an episode of Saturday
Night Live years ago where singer/songwriter Kris Kristofferson gave a
tongue-in-cheek testimonial.  He explained that when he began his
songwriting career, as good student and Rhodes Scholar, he always used
proper English when writing songs, e.g., "Bobby McGee and I."  However,
his songs didn't sell.  It was only when he began using improper
English, e.g., "Me and Bobby McGee," that his career as a songwriter
started to flourish.

For those of you who just can't get enough of the "irregardless"
discussion, check out the following web site:

    http://linguistlist.org/~ask-ling/msg00253.html

Joyce Brite
http://www-personal.ksu.edu/~brite/

 [ Even Shakespeare recognized the value of the spoken, or 'vulgar',
 [ language.  It sells!  -- Robbie


(Message sent Thu 25 Dec 1997, 23:23:21 GMT, from time zone GMT-0600.)

Key Words in Subject:  Irregardless

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