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Grammatical Sabbatical In The News

WTH Merriam-Webster?!

Merriam-Webster recognizing ‘irregardless’ as a word

The following article was written by Jisha Joseph, October 22, 2020, and posted on Upworthy. See original post HERE.

“irregardless” — stigmatized as a non-word that has the opposite meaning of its intended use — is included in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

We’ve all been or known one of those people who take grammar very seriously. When the question is about the integrity of the English language, they wouldn’t stop themselves from correcting even Shakespeare himself. While they can sometimes come across as rather annoying with their grammar policing, we must admit, they do play an important part in ensuring that the sanctity of the language is maintained to some degree and that matters such as punctuation don’t go completely forgotten. Especially now, when it appears as though even the gatekeepers of the English language seem inlined to welcome some new — and some would argue, undeserving — comers into the dictionary.

“We do not make the English language, we merely record it.”

Merriam-Webster

One such newcomer, or rather its inclusion in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, came as quite the upsetting news for actress Jamie Lee Curtis who turned to Twitter to express her disappointment. “In case you thought 2020 couldn’t get any worse, Merriam-Webster just officially recognized ‘irregardless’ as a word,” the star tweeted and her grammar fanatic fans nearly lost it. “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore,” replied @PinkysPortal while Twitter user Anna Jagielo wrote: “Ugh! It cannot be. It goes against literally everything. A double negative- hate mob mentality.”

“Next they’ll just say that ‘their, they’re, and there’ are all interchangeable, along with ‘your and you’re.’ Most people believe that to be true already when you see how they post on social media/memes,” warned Nick Carter. Actress Suzanne Cryer shared Lee Curtis’ dismay as she wrote: “Nooooooooooooooooo. Your right. A suspicious action! It’s literally insane! I wish there were less hipsters working at Merriam-Webster. They had better make this 2020 dictionary inflammable or I might burn it.” Meanwhile, Twitter user @OneMoreBrian was plagued by another thought. “Christ… after 30 years of being told it’s not a word, I now have to reset my language?” they asked.

While grammar Twitter lamented the supposed decline of the language, some social media users asked the fact-checking website Snopes to verify whether Merriam-Webster dictionary had in fact newly recognized “irregardless” as a word in the English language. As it turns out, “irregardless” — which long been stigmatized as a non-word that has the opposite meaning of its intended use — is indeed included in Merriam-Webster. However, despite gaining new notoriety online, it isn’t a new addition. Speaking to NPR on the matter, a Merriam-Webster spokesperson revealed that “irregardless” has appeared in the pages of its Unabridged dictionary edition since 1934.

Moreover, other dictionaries of the likes of Webster’’ New World College Dictionary, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, and the Cambridge Dictionary, also recognize “irregardless” as a word. Following the sudden online outrage earlier this year, Merriam-Webster grabbed the opportunity to tease the internet over its disapproval of the term in its July 3 Words of the Week post. “From time to time, it is drawn to our attention that certain parties find it objectionable that we have included irregardless in our dictionary. The outrage presumably springs from our allowing this callow arriviste to rub elbows with other, nobler, words; the very presence of irregardless besmirches such entries as asshead, ninnyhammer, and schnook,” the post reads.

“Irregardless is included in our dictionary because it has been in widespread and near-constant use since 1795. We must warn you, gentle readers, that there are some other words which appear for the first time this very same year that we define in our dictionary. Yes! We have allowed entry to such Johnnies-come-lately as bewhiskered, citizenry, and terrorism, all of which have their earliest written evidence the same year as irregardless,” it continues. “We do not make the English language, we merely record it. If people use a word with consistent meaning, over a broad geographic range, and for an extended period of time chances are very high that it will go into our dictionary.” Well, there you have it, folks. “Irregardless” is here to stay.


Merriam-Webster’s response to this being big news again is hilarious. Samuel Johnson couldn’t have penned a better response!

You gotta love a dictionary with a sense of humor! I didn’t realize, or never thought about the fact that ‘irregardless’ has been in the dictionary all along! I feel much more relaxed than I was when I first saw the headline. English is a living language, continuously changing, evolving, and adapting. Frankly I’m shocked that these lexicographers are as on top of things as they are!

Speaking of words…


Top Logophile Websites

If you’re still reading then you’re obviously another logophile! so check out some of my favorite ‘word’ sites to kill time on:

Wordnik: A social network site for word lovers who list, discuss, share, and keep track of our favorite words. You can Adopt A Word here, too! 🧡

Dictionary.com is so much more than just their WotD! For example, today’s Quiz Yourself is on SERIOUSLY SPOOKY CREATURE NAMES! If you breeze through everything there, head over to the sister site – Thesaurus.com.

The Phrontistery: This is such a huge site, with so much going on, I can’t even begin to list things.

Speed Round! Just go check these out of you love words –

Phrase Finder, Literary Devices, Urban Dictionary, Wordle, Literary Devices, Fun With Words: Glossary of Linguistics and Rhetoric, Word Games – play free online

Until next time… xxoo

P, L & N 💕

sg

Categories
celebration Horror Humor

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 308th birthday of lexicographer Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson created the first great English dictionary.

Johnson was a poet, essayist, critic, biographer, an editor, and most importantly (today anyway) – a lexicographer.
His 1755 dictionary was the first truly comprehensive dictionary of the language, and remained the gold standard until The Oxford English Dictionary of 1884 — but one of the best reasons to remember him is – dude was hilarious!

Some of Johnson’s entries are still a complete crack-up. In fact, he was so funny that his buddy Boswell spent 22 years basically just following him around, filling 18 volumes with his various ‘Samuelisms’, creating The Life of Samuel Johnson.
Samuel Johnson was so funny that the only person in the English language who’s quoted more often is Shakespeare.

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To celebrate our fellow lover of lexicology, let’s giggle with some of Johnson’s most notable & quotable dictionary entries –

Lexicographer: A writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge that busies himself in tracing the original, and detailing the signification of words.

Cough: A convulsion of the lungs, vellicated by some sharp serosity.

Distiller: One who makes and sells pernicious and inflammatory spirits.

Dull: Not exhilaterating (sic); not delightful; as, to make dictionaries isdull work.

Excise: A hateful tax levied upon commodities, and adjudged not by the common judges of property, but wretches hired by those to whom excise is paid.

Far-fetch: A deep stratagem. A ludicrous word.

Jobbernowl: Loggerhead; blockhead.

Kickshaw: A dish so changed by the cookery that it can scarcely be known.

Network: Any thing reticulated or decussated, at equal distances, with interstices between the intersections. (See how he defined ‘reticulated,’ below.)

Oats: A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland appears to support the people.

Pastern: The knee of a horse. (This is wrong. When Johnson was once asked how he came to make such a mistake, Boswell tells us he replied,“Ignorance, Madam, pure ignorance.”)

Patron: One who countenances, supports or protects. Commonly a wretch who supports with insolence, and is paid with flattery.

Pension: An allowance made to any one without an equivalent. In England it is generally understood to mean pay given to a state hireling for treason to his country.

Politician: 1. One versed in the arts of government; one skilled in politicks. 2. A man of artifice; one of deep contrivance.

Reticulated: Made of network; formed with interstitial vacuities.

Tory: One who adheres to the ancient constitution of the state, and the apostolical hierarchy of the church of England, opposed to a Whig.

Whig: The name of a faction.

To worm: To deprive a dog of something, nobody knows what, under his tongue, which is said to prevent him, nobody knows why, from running mad.

“It is commonly observed, that when two Englishmen meet, their first talk is of the weather; they are in haste to tell each other, what each must already know, that it is hot or cold, bright or cloudy, windy or calm.”The Idler

“I have, all my life long, been lying till noon; yet I tell all young men, and tell them with great sincerity, that nobody who does not rise early will ever do any good.”The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides

“At the tea table he had considerable demands upon his favorite beverage, and I remember when Sir Joshua Reynolds at my house reminded him that he had drank eleven cups, he replied — ‘Sir, I did not count your glasses of wine, why should you number up my cups of tea?’” —The Life of Samuel Johnson, Vol. 2

“It can scarcely be candid not to make a previous declaration, that he is to expect little justice from the author of this extract, a hardened and shameless tea-drinker.”A Journal of Eight Days’ Journey


How well do you think you know Samuel Johnson’s dictionary?

Take this hilarious quiz to find out!