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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 sluggo » Mon Aug 07, 2006 11:14 pm

malachai wrote: sluggo claimed that no one here said that usages like "irregardless" were stupid or wrong, didn't he?


No, actually I didn't :wink:
I really suggest you read more carefully (check the spelling on my greeting upthread while you're back there)

malachai wrote: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?


We do but we know better now...
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Postby malachai » Mon Aug 07, 2006 11:19 pm

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


Then what did you mean by this? I'm so confused.
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Postby Bailey » Tue Aug 08, 2006 12:27 am

malachai wrote:
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?

po-tay-toes, po-tah-toes, what you call innovative I call ignorant, in the strictest sense of the word. not stupid, just unconscious or unknowingly poor grammar.
malachai wrote:
sluggo wrote:Will the invisible poster who proclaimed the despised usages stupid and wrong please respond. I'm eating apples.


Then what did you mean by this? I'm so confused.

It means that this tempest in a teapot is not amusing anymore, but I'm probably wrong, he may just be getting started.

mark look-there's-a-signpost-up-ahead-it-says-exit Bailey

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Postby Perry » Tue Aug 08, 2006 9:36 am

malachai wrote:
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.


Cute article, but I'll stay on my high horse, thank you. I don't think it is nifty to have one word for everything. I enjoy having more choices.

Apart from that, I have to say that this thread seems to have played itself out. Live up to your name; be an angel and move on to another topic. (I'll be happy to explain, if you don't speak Hebrew, or otherwise are unaware of the meaning of your name.)
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Postby malachai » Tue Aug 08, 2006 10:08 am

gailr wrote: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...


Language use and driving are very very different. Language is largely unconscious, while driving is a conscious activity. Using a language is more akin to walking.

http://www.brain-child.org/articles/maclean_html.htm

When an almost three-year-old says, "I breaked the window," she is saying what all kids do at that age. "Everyone," says Steven Pinker, "without fail." And there's the rub. Children do not hear a verb like that from their parents -- they deduce them, says Pinker, from rules that follow a logic buried in their brains from time immemorial. That logic -- a language instinct akin to learning how to walk -- allows them to hear a few thousand sentences, then produce an almost unlimited number of their own. Children soak up language "not quite like a sponge," says Pinker. There is a lot of symbol crunching involved, a lot of deduction. Some linguists argue that instinctual rules are the basis of all language. Others say there are no rules, just patterns of association that children pick up on. Pinker says both apply.


I guess this is the last thing I'll say on the subject.
Last edited by malachai on Wed Aug 09, 2006 6:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby malachai » Wed Aug 09, 2006 7:10 pm

Well maybe not. :) Just in case someone is interested, on the subject of too much or too little negation, here are some examples courtesy of
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/%7Emyl/langua ... 00368.html

where the presence or absense of negation doesn't appear to change the meaning.

Eddie knows squat about phrenology.
Eddie doesn't know squat about phrenology.

That'll teach you not to tease the alligators.
That'll teach you to tease the alligators.

I wonder whether we can't find some time to shoot pool this evening.
I wonder whether we can find some time to shoot pool this evening.

You shouldn't play with the alligators, I don't think.
You shouldn't play with the alligators, I think.
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Postby Palewriter » Wed Aug 09, 2006 10:34 pm

I was wondering how long this tread would stay in the doldrums. Well, blow me down. Here comes a mistral.

The examples you give, malachai, are all what I would call "in vernacular". Not to say they're right or wrong, they're just not really part of correct, mainstream English.

Wot I'm trying to get you to cotton onto is that our lingo can get as squirrelly as all get-out, get buggered about by ponces what doesn't understand diddly; screwed, blued and tattooed by pirates; run through a mincer (all the time trying to keep a straight mincer) and roughed up something wicked.

Irregardless and respective of such pernicious assaults, correct, mainstream English remains (at least for the time being) correct, mainstream English. Not exactly static, to be sure, but at least agreed upon by the vast majority of English speakers. Deviation from the norm can be indicated on any number of occasions, among which when the speaker ain't got no couth and is simply pulling yer plonker.


-- PW
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Postby malachai » Wed Aug 09, 2006 11:25 pm

I don't disagree, PW.

These examples are nonstandard English, but they can still be interesting. I think they're interesting, anyway. They're examples where the addition or subtraction of negation doesn't change the meaning, like "irregardless" and "I could care less".

Since this is a language forum I thought some one might want to talk seriously about this sort of thing, but if not, I'll live with that. :)
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Postby Palewriter » Wed Aug 09, 2006 11:41 pm

malachai wrote:I don't disagree, PW.

These examples are nonstandard English, but they can still be interesting. I think they're interesting, anyway. They're examples where the addition or subtraction of negation doesn't change the meaning, like "irregardless" and "I could care less".

Since this is a language forum I thought some one might want to talk seriously about this sort of thing, but if not, I'll live with that. :)


Malachai, in my jocular way, I am very serious.

-- 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 Bailey » Thu Aug 10, 2006 12:37 am

Since this is a language forum I thought some one might want to talk seriously about this sort of thing, but if not, I'll live with that

Golly gee batman, I thought we were being serious, we had straight faces; we answered your questions with great earnestness, and made polite... and most of us took you seriously, if we make a pun or two well just get used to it, others have tried to get us to abandon our merry ways but hey Robin, we does what we can.

mark life-is-but-a-romp Bailey

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Postby malachai » Thu Aug 10, 2006 9:50 am

Bailey wrote:Golly gee batman, I thought we were being serious, we had straight faces; we answered your questions with great earnestness, and made polite... and most of us took you seriously, if we make a pun or two well just get used to it, others have tried to get us to abandon our merry ways but hey Robin, we does what we can.


Well OK. I meant "take nonstandard English seriously instead of denigrating it." That's the way it seemed to me, anyway, but I could be wrong.
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Postby Bailey » Thu Aug 10, 2006 11:46 am

malachai wrote:
Well OK. I meant "take nonstandard English seriously instead of denigrating it." That's the way it seemed to me, anyway, but I could be wrong.

It's hard to take non-standard English as anything but silly, there are some very serious studiers of Linguistics here, Not me, oh no, but there are some.
:shock:
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Postby gailr » Thu Aug 10, 2006 6:21 pm

malachai wrote:Well OK. I meant "take nonstandard English seriously instead of denigrating it."

You've got to be kidding!

The unrepentant posters here have an enormous amount of fun employing puns, obscure jargon and various dialects. Non-standard spelling, pronunciation or grammar are like accessories: they liven up a wardrobe, but don't stand on their own and seldom have any lasting appeal. Fads (in clothing and language) usually signal separateness. If a fad goes mainstream it loses its appeal and forces those who want to be different to push the envelope further to maintain that difference. (Although lockstep conformity is maintained by those marching to these different drummers.) Even if a fad does go mainstream it is not necessarily a good thing. (Does anyone remember the 80s?)

You're going to have an uphill battle convincing the core group here to take nonstandard language "seriously". If presented well, you may provoke a lively discussion. Denigration, to borrow your term, occurs only when someone insists that--in the real world--there are no standards and all usages have equal merit. There may be no rational reason why one usage wins out over the others, but that's the way it is.

Great works of art and writing are achieved by those who break established rules. But they break rules with style and skill, and create something of lasting value in the process. Merely ignoring standards willy-nilly isn't the same and doesn't deserve the same respect.

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Postby Bailey » Thu Aug 10, 2006 8:29 pm

Well said Gailr, I think that's exactly what, in my off-hand cowboy kind of way I was trying to say. Except for the 'lockstep conformity' thing, I usually save that sort of discussion for the Ladies!
Wahl pardner, I'm off to the tall timbre..

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Last edited by Bailey on Thu Aug 10, 2006 8:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby malachai » Thu Aug 10, 2006 8:37 pm

Denigration, to borrow your term, occurs only when someone insists that--in the real world--there are no standards and all usages have equal merit. There may be no rational reason why one usage wins out over the others, but that's the way it is.


I agree with your last sentence. Certain kinds of English have prestige. And sometimes the reasons they have prestige are arbitrary. We have what we can call a standard English, as defined by usage guides and dictionaries. And usages that differ from the standard, like say for instance, "irregardless" and "I could care less", are condemned. That is what I mean by denigration.

Since I have a background in linguistics, I'm interested in looking at how language is used, and not only in how some people say it should be used. This includes looking at nonstandard usages. Some of these might be fads, as you say, and some might provoke a more widespread change. But they're all interesting. And since this is a language forum, they are worthy topics for discussion.

Great works of art and writing are achieved by those who break established rules. But they break rules with style and skill, and create something of lasting value in the process. Merely ignoring standards willy-nilly isn't the same and doesn't deserve the same respect.


Speakers of all languages, whether they speak Canadian English, African American Vernacular English, Texan English, Scots English, Hixkaryana, Japanese, Quechua, whatever, are all following rules. The rules might not be written down in a book, but the rules still exist. They exist as as unconscious knowledge in the minds of the speakers.

Whether or not the speakers are following or should be following certain standards is a separate issue, and not one I'm talking about (although admittedly I might not have made that clear).

For instance, why do we say

An old stone wall

and not

*A stone old wall

You won't find this rule in any usage book. But the rule exists.

So what if we look at "irregardless" and "I could care less"? They seem to have too much or too little negation, and yet they still make sense. The other examples I gave show the same phenomenon.

So in short, I don't completely disagree with you, but it seems like I'm approaching the topic from a completely different direction from the rest of you guys.
Last edited by malachai on Thu Aug 10, 2006 9:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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