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I don't want to look stupid, but irregardless I want to know

A discussion of word histories and origins.

Postby Bailey » Sun Aug 06, 2006 9:38 pm

skinem wrote:
Mistakes such as "irregardless" and "I could care less" are legion. But they persist due to a combination of ignorance and carelessness.


Amen! (It being Sunday and all...)
It's a pet peeve of mine when people do use imprecise language. I'm guilty enough of it and I generally do pay attention.

Why does it persist? I don't know and I don't care.

altogether now, Apathy Arise!

mark trying-to-care Bailey
Last edited by Bailey on Sun Aug 06, 2006 9:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Bailey » Sun Aug 06, 2006 9:44 pm

gailr wrote:
Bailey wrote:I think the answer's obvious here, in my opinion due to the vast (or is it just half-vast?) numbers of people I've met I believe it's because most people live completely unconscious lives, they have no idea they are saying the exact opposite of what they mean.

I agree with Bailey about the unconscious state of the half-vast population. :)

Pet peeves about language misuse have a common denominator: speakers who do not apply any thought to what they are saying and instead just regurgitate previously heard ideas or phrases. (Like Orwell's duckspeak in which the brain is disconnected from the mouth.)

Mistakes such as "irregardless" and "I could care less" are legion. But they persist due to a combination of ignorance and carelessness.

-gailr

one of the worst in this category is "male species" er, uhm, when they want to say "Male of the species", open mouth disengage brain.

mark not-a-species-of-his-own Bailey

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Postby malachai » Mon Aug 07, 2006 12:02 pm

gailr wrote:Mistakes such as "irregardless" and "I could care less" are legion. But they persist due to a combination of ignorance and carelessness.


If one person makes it, it's a mistake. If a large number of people use them, they are no longer mistakes, they're part of the language. This is how language changes.

Just like "crayfish" and "belfry" were originally mistakes. The words had nothing to do with fish or bells but the spelling and pronunciation changed based on misunderstandings. But those words are now part of the language.

"irregardless" and "I could care less" are the latest examples of that. imo they're examples of human inventiveness, and proof that English is flourishing.
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Postby Bailey » Mon Aug 07, 2006 12:08 pm

malachai wrote:
gailr wrote:Mistakes such as "irregardless" and "I could care less" are legion. But they persist due to a combination of ignorance and carelessness.


If one person makes it, it's a mistake.<snip>But those words are now part of the language. only for those who don't know or are bound by invincible ignorance

"irregardless" and "I could care less" are the latest examples of that. imo they're examples of human inventiveness, and proof that English is flourishing.

some would say devolving, reverting or degerating. 0 x 0=0, 0 + 0=0. Mistakes to the nth are still mistakes, but of course it is merely JMO, also.

Mark for-a-pure-English(lots of imports but no degeneration) Bailey

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Postby malachai » Mon Aug 07, 2006 12:20 pm

How can a language degerate? Languages can degenerate and die when people stop speaking them. But more and more people are speaking English.

It doesn't make sense to say that English is degenerating, since that's based on an idea of what English should be (static) rather than what it is (a living language). English is not going to stop changing; it is the nature of languages to change.
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Postby skinem » Mon Aug 07, 2006 12:32 pm

A language may also degenerate when people are so (uneducated, apathetic, lazy--take your pick) that they use only a fraction of the words that are available to them and do not use them in accordance with the generally accepted "rules" of use.
Granted languages obviously change and evolve, but WHILE that is happening, some of us are stuck with trying to decipher what in the blazes someone is actually meaning when they use a word incorrectly, but in accordance with recent usage.

Historically, disagreements in language usage also have gone a ways in helping to divide people and nations as well. I'll spend some time looking for links (unless someone beats me to it), but I've run across articles and at least one documentary about how in America there is a definite language barrier that has grown up (and is growing further) between black and white populations in this country.

I don't think I've misunderstood some folks in this thread saying that they don't believe that language changes or evolves (witness the mutitude of new English words annually), but how there is a growing disregard for standard usage, both verbally and written.

Personally, I hate it. But, as I get older, I hate change more and more.

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Postby sluggo » Mon Aug 07, 2006 12:43 pm

malachai wrote:
gailr wrote:Mistakes such as "irregardless" and "I could care less" are legion. But they persist due to a combination of ignorance and carelessness.


If one person makes it, it's a mistake. If a large number of people use them, they are no longer mistakes, they're part of the language. This is how language changes.

Just like "crayfish" and "belfry" were originally mistakes. The words had nothing to do with fish or bells but the spelling and pronunciation changed based on misunderstandings. But those words are now part of the language.

"irregardless" and "I could care less" are the latest examples of that. imo they're examples of human inventiveness, and proof that English is flourishing.


The difference in this case is that crayfish and belfry are not grammatically inoperative. Human inventiveness, to paraphrase Bailey, can work in positive or negative directions, and not every innovation survives -fortunately.

Bailey wrote: Mistakes to the nth are still mistakes


Perfectly put. Regardless of common usage, and we really could care less. :wink:
Last edited by sluggo on Mon Aug 07, 2006 12:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby malachai » Mon Aug 07, 2006 12:47 pm

Certainly standard English is very useful for helping us communicate, but it's important to recognize that a standard is just a standard, it's not better or worse than other forms of the language. And also, standards can be changed to suit our needs.
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Postby malachai » Mon Aug 07, 2006 12:49 pm

sluggo wrote:The difference in this case is that crayfish and belfry are not grammatically inoperative. Human inventiveness, to paraphrase Bailey, can work in positive or negative directions, and not every innovation survives -fortunately.


"irregardless" and "I could care less" are not grammatically inoperative either. They make sense for the people who use them. The fact that they are in widespread use means they that do make sense.
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Postby sluggo » Mon Aug 07, 2006 12:53 pm

malachai wrote:
sluggo wrote:The difference in this case is that crayfish and belfry are not grammatically inoperative. Human inventiveness, to paraphrase Bailey, can work in positive or negative directions, and not every innovation survives -fortunately.


"irregardless" and "I could care less" are not grammatically inoperative either. They make sense for the people who use them. The fact that they are in widespread use means they that do make sense.


As the nuns used to say "if everybody jumped in the lake would you jump in too?"

Everyone in the world can use a wrong- it's still wrong. When the emporer has no clothes, claiming he does does not make it so.
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Postby malachai » Mon Aug 07, 2006 1:19 pm

In the case of language, if everyone uses it, then it's right. How else do we determine what is right, other than looking at the facts of usage?

That's a rhetorical question. The facts of usage have to guide us in determining what is "right" and "wrong". If our rules are independant of the facts of usage, what good are they?
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Postby gailr » Mon Aug 07, 2006 1:22 pm

malachai wrote: "irregardless" and "I could care less" are not grammatically inoperative either. They make sense for the people who use them. The fact that they are in widespread use means they that do make sense.

In Hamlet's words, "Ay, [madam,] it is common." The subtext here is that common is not always desirable.
Stupidity when driving is also in widespread use...therefore...

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master--that's all."


Which attitude should carry the day? Yes, language evolves with usage (words such as silly and nice immediately spring to mind). But, does this mean change must be determined by the lowest common denominator? If that is the case, then why bother with piffles such as grammar, composition and literature classes?

Communication which which fails to deliver its message is pointless. Carelessness and ignorance are not the foundations of any achievement in human history; why champion tossing clear thought and its clear expression to the scrap heap because it's more convenient for carelessness or ignorance?

-gailr

sluggo! you beat me to the "jumping off the cliff" metaphor.
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Postby Palewriter » Mon Aug 07, 2006 1:31 pm

I actually could care less, though I'm not inclined to do so.

-- PW
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Postby sluggo » Mon Aug 07, 2006 1:36 pm

gailr wrote:
malachai wrote: "irregardless" and "I could care less" are not grammatically inoperative either. They make sense for the people who use them. The fact that they are in widespread use means they that do make sense.

In Hamlet's words, "Ay, [madam,] it is common." The subtext here is that common is not always desirable.
Stupidity when driving is also in widespread use...therefore...

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master--that's all."


Which attitude should carry the day? Yes, language evolves with usage (words such as silly and nice immediately spring to mind). But, does this mean change must be determined by the lowest common denominator? If that is the case, then why bother with piffles such as grammar, composition and literature classes?

Communication which which fails to deliver its message is pointless. Carelessness and ignorance are not the foundations of any achievement in human history; why champion tossing clear thought and its clear expression to the scrap heap because it's more convenient for carelessness or ignorance?

-gailr


You go Gail! Leave it to you to invoke Lewis Carroll as the perfect morning-after pill.

gailr wrote:sluggo! you beat me to the "jumping off the cliff" metaphor.


hee hee :) I knew you would if I didn't. Once a Catholic...
Last edited by sluggo on Mon Aug 07, 2006 1:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby sluggo » Mon Aug 07, 2006 1:39 pm

Palewriter wrote:I actually could care less, though I'm not inclined to do so.

-- PW


A good thing. Would that we here were not disuninclined. Wait.. what do I mean by that? Let's ask the masses...
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