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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 skinem » Mon Aug 07, 2006 1:46 pm

Next time I disagree with something, I'll just post "What gailr says". She says it better than I and I know other posters would appreciate it!
Now, I don't know about gailr appreciating it...
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Postby malachai » Mon Aug 07, 2006 1:55 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...


Good thing we're talking about language and not driving, then. :)

"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?



I love Lewis Carroll!

I'm certainly not suggesting that we do away with composition and literature classes. What I'm talking about is a more scientific approach to language. Why do people talk the way they do? Language is a system of unconscious rules that we acquire as children. How do we use those rules?

I'm in favour of clear expression. But I'm also in favour of examining how language is used and recognizing that just because it's not used according to my taste, that doesn't make it wrong.
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Postby Bailey » Mon Aug 07, 2006 2:07 pm

sluggo wrote:
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...

oh no not the masses, "Off wif 'er ead'", "Oh no, please no". "This just can't go one like this, no more ignoramusisms", "Oh well, ok then"

mark I'm-ok-and-so-am-I Bailey

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Postby Perry » Mon Aug 07, 2006 2:30 pm

I'm not going to get my knickers in a twist over regardless and irregardless. And that is only because the clarity comes from the rest of the statement. (E.g Regardless/Irregardless of my feelings about cats, that one is cute.)

What does get me all hot and bothered is the use of like as a substitute for said, felt, did, etc. :evil:
"Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening all at once. Lately it hasn't been working."
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Postby Palewriter » Mon Aug 07, 2006 2:38 pm

Bailey wrote:
sluggo wrote:
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...

oh no not the masses, "Off wif 'er ead'", "Oh no, please no". "This just can't go one like this, no more ignoramusisms", "Oh well, ok then"

mark I'm-ok-and-so-am-I Bailey


On a topic-tangent, perhaps we can gather some insight into the nature of these oft-quoted masses (at least the oft-quoted computer-owning masses) by looking at the most popular Yahoo! searches currently on the World Wide Thingy.

The top ten, in order, are:

Danica Patrick
Mel Gibson
Wikipedia
WWE
Paris Hilton
Pamela Anderson
RuneScape
Jessica Simpson
Beyonce Knowles
Britney Spears

I had to do a search on WWE myself to figure out what the heck it might be. Wrestling apparently. Danica Patrick evidently drives a racing car.

So much for the masses; so much for the Internet. Almost makes you wonder why Al Gore even bothered to invent it, dunnit?

Don't think I'll bother the masses right now with questions concerning the niceties of tautological grammar constructions. They're busy checking on (out?) Danica.

-- PW
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: Wow!!! What a ride!"
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Postby sluggo » Mon Aug 07, 2006 2:48 pm

malachai wrote: ...What I'm talking about is a more scientific approach to language...


Wait, hang on, I'm beginning to get it: if "irregardless" means "regardless", then "more" means "less"... yeah, that's the ticket... Ticket? We're back to driving. Let's use Gail's map to get out of here. This place is inflammable, and I could care less.
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Postby malachai » Mon Aug 07, 2006 3:42 pm

sluggo wrote:
malachai wrote: ...What I'm talking about is a more scientific approach to language...


Wait, hang on, I'm beginning to get it: if "irregardless" means "regardless", then "more" means "less"... yeah, that's the ticket... Ticket? We're back to driving. Let's use Gail's map to get out of here. This place is inflammable, and I could care less.


Look: people don't speak right or wrong English, they just speak different kinds of English. One of those kinds is the standard. But it's a historical accident that one variety of English is the standard and not another variety.

A copy editor would be right to remove "irregardless" from a document, because it is not standard English. But quite clearly, "irregardless" is a normal, comprehensible word for the people who use it. Those people aren't stupid, or wrong, they're just speaking nonstandard English.
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Postby sluggo » Mon Aug 07, 2006 4:34 pm

malachai wrote:
Look: people don't speak right or wrong English, they just speak different kinds of English. One of those kinds is the standard. But it's a historical accident that one variety of English is the standard and not another variety.

A copy editor would be right to remove "irregardless" from a document, because it is not standard English. But quite clearly, "irregardless" is a normal, comprehensible word for the people who use it. Those people aren't stupid, or wrong, they're just speaking nonstandard English.


Will the invisible poster who proclaimed the despised usages stupid and wrong please respond. I'm eating apples.

Bailey, nobody took your "male species" bait :cry:
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Postby malachai » Mon Aug 07, 2006 4:45 pm

sluggo wrote:
Will the invisible poster who proclaimed the despised usages stupid and wrong please respond. I'm eating apples.


It seems to me that you said this usage was wrong when you said

sluggo wrote: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.


Other people here have said that this sort of usage is due to laziness or carelessness, or that it's an example of the degeneration of language. Or that we shouldnt let the "lowest common denominator" determine usage. To me that implies that it's wrong, and that the people who use it are stupid.
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Postby Bailey » Mon Aug 07, 2006 5:45 pm

malachai wrote:
sluggo wrote:
Will the invisible poster who proclaimed the despised usages stupid and wrong please respond. I'm eating apples.


It seems to me that you said this usage was wrong when you said

sluggo wrote: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.


Other people here have said that this sort of usage is due to laziness or carelessness, or that it's an example of the degeneration of language. Or that we shouldnt let the "lowest common denominator" determine usage. To me that implies that it's wrong, and that the people who use it are stupid.

and your point is?

mark who-has-a-nice-point-atop-his-head Bailey

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Postby gailr » Mon Aug 07, 2006 7:20 pm

Thanks, skinem, but I'm to the left o'center; no ditto-head groupies, please... :oops:

I enjoy seeing every one's mind work to marshall cogent and convincing arguments, even when I disagree. And in this case, I respectfully agree to disagree that incorrect language usage is correct if that's what the masses prefer. I'm told that they also prefer bread & circuses, opiates, and dumb shows and noise. oooooh, shiny....

sluggo wrote:Let's use Gail's map to get out of here. This place is inflammable, and I could care less.

Well, we've been around this particular cloverleaf a few times now with no end in sight; I'm taking this exit.

-gailr

p.s.: My car will take three passengers, but be warned that I'm not going to use Humpty Dumpty rules of the road... :)
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Postby sluggo » Mon Aug 07, 2006 7:36 pm

gailr wrote:... I'm taking this exit.

-gailr

p.s.: My car will take three passengers, but be warned that I'm not going to use Humpty Dumpty rules of the road... :)


Good. So now that we've thoroughly demonstrated that
gailr wrote:Communication which which fails to deliver its message is pointless
, I'm on for the offramp. Just in case such truce breaks I'm going to instruct my avatar to brace itself...
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Postby skinem » Mon Aug 07, 2006 7:48 pm

Gailr, no ditto-head here either! (There isn't anyone I agree with all the time--not even myself--but that's another story. Be quiet, you!)

But you sure can make a point more elegantly, succinctly and more clear than I!
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Postby malachai » Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:23 pm

Bailey wrote:and your point is?


er, my point is that variations in usage are not caused by stupidity, laziness, degeneration in language, etc.

sluggo claimed that no one here said that usages like "irregardless" were stupid or wrong, didn't he? And I pointed out that some people did say exactly that, or at least imply it.

It seems to me that it's not very helpful to stigmatize nonstandard usages as wrong, or illogical, or whatever. "irregardless" is condemned because it's thought to be logically absurd to combine "ir-" and "-less", both of which are negative prefixes. Yet we shouldn't expect language to function like math. And redundancy is part of all languages. For instance in the sentence "he goes" both the "he" and the suffix "s" signal the third person singular. This is redundant. There is nothing wrong with redundancy in language.

It's more interesting to see it as an example of innovation, isn't it? To talk about its origin and how it is used by native speakers.

Of course having said that, I don't know anything about the origin or use of "irregardless" other than it is probably a blend of "regardless" and "irrespective." Does anyone know anything else?
Last edited by malachai on Mon Aug 07, 2006 11:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby malachai » Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:56 pm

Perry wrote:What does get me all hot and bothered is the use of like as a substitute for said, felt, did, etc. :evil:


http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1704693

Quotative like can be a nifty linguistic device. It's more generic than reply or exclaim and more casual than even say. It can be used not just to introduce actual speech, but also gestures or your own internal monologue: The whole time we were talking, I was like, "Oh god, get me out of here!" It often implies shades of imitation, introducing reported speech that mimics the original speaker in tone and tempo, and in that sense is closely related to the comparative like. It's typically an indicator of a lighthearted tone of speech, something youthful and flippant-sounding.
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