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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

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Horror

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I giggle each and every time I see this!
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Grammar Grammatical Sabbatical Humor

Grammatical Sabbatical

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Humor Random Funny Shit Shenanigans

American Association Against Acronym Abuse

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Book Reviews Grammar

Mnemonic Man by Steven Frank

Mnemonic ManMnemonic Man by Steven Frank

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

mne-mon-ic (ni-MON-ic) noun
A device, such as a formula or rhyme, used as an aid in remembering.
Gk. mnemonikos, of memory; rel. to Mnemosyne, the Goddess of memory.

Mne-mon-ic Man (ni-MON-ic man) noun
A superhero from outer space who coaches humans on grammar, dating, and other survival skills.

Written by Steven Frank, Mnemonic Man is a ‘graphic romance for the grammatically challenged’.
It’s very cute & fun read, filled with tons of NtK grammar facts. You can also take THE MNEMONIC CHALLENGE at the end of the book. It’s one that I’m happy I have in my collection – I just need to remember to use it!
*The comics probably look a little better in the paperback edition

View more of my reviews.

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Grammar Humor Music New Release Shenanigans Video

“Weird Al” Yankovic – Word Crimes

WORD CRIMES is a general send-up of people with poor grammar.

Thank you, Wierd Al!!

“If you can’t write in the proper way / if you don’t know how to conjugate,” “maybe you flunked that class / and maybe now you find that people mock you online.”

He eventually delves into some brief grammar lessons, so you might actually learn a thing or two about parts of speech by listening.

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Grammar

Murder! Call the Grammar Police!

VERBICIDE

VERBICIDE
ver·bi·cide [VUR-buh-sahyd]
noun
1. the willful distortion or depreciation of the original meaning of a word.

2. a person who willfully distorts the meaning of a word.

Examples:

1. Life and language are alike sacred. Homicide and verbicide–that is, violent treatment of a word with fatal results to
legitimate meaning, which is its life–are alike forbidden.Oliver Wendell Holmes, “The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table,”
The Atlantic Monthly, 1857

DeadlyWeapon

2. Men often commit verbicide because they want to snatch a word as a party banner, to appropriate its ‘selling quality’. C.S. Lewis, Studies in Words, 1960

Origin:

Verbicide joins a variant of the Latin verbum, meaning “word,” with -cide, a suffix used in the formation of compound words that means “killer” or “act of killing.”

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Grammar Writing

8 Words To Seek And Destroy In Your Writing

8 Words to Seek and Destroy in Your Writing
COLUMN BY ROBBIE BLAIR NOVEMBER 9, 2012

Creating powerful prose requires killing off the words, phrases, and sentences that gum up your text. While a critical eye and good judgment are key in this process, some terms almost always get in the way. Here are eight words or phrases that should be hunted down in your story and deleted with extreme prejudice.

“Suddenly”

“Sudden” means quickly and without warning, but using the word “suddenly” both slows down the action and warns your reader. Do you know what’s more effective for creating the sense of the sudden? Just saying what happens.

“I pay attention to every motion, every movement, my eyes locked on them.
Suddenly, The gun goes off.”

When using “suddenly,” you communicate through the narrator that the action seemed sudden. By jumping directly into the action, you allow the reader to experience that suddenness first hand. “Suddenly” also suffers from being nondescript, failing to communicate the nature of the action itself; providing no sensory experience or concrete fact to hold on to. Just … suddenly.

Feel free to employ “suddenly” in situations where the suddenness is not apparent in the action itself. For example, in “Suddenly, I don’t hate you anymore,” the “suddenly” substantially changes the way we think about the shift in emotional calibration.

“Then”

“Then” points vaguely to the existing timeline and says, “It was after that last thing I talked about.” But the new action taking place in a subsequent sentence or sentence part implies that much already. You can almost always eliminate your thens without disrupting meaning or flow.

“I woke up. Then I, brushed my teeth. Then I, combed my hair. Then I , and went to work.”

“Then” should be used as a clarifying agent, to communicate that two seemingly concurrent actions are happening in sequence. For example, “I drove to the supermarket. Then I realized I didn’t need to buy anything.” Without the “then,” it would be easy to mistake this as pre-existing knowledge or as a realization that happened during the drive itself. “Then” can occasionally be useful for sentence flow, but keep the use of the word to a minimum.

“In order to”

You almost never need the phrase “in order to” to express a point. The only situation where it’s appropriate to use this phrase is when using “to” alone would create ambiguity or confusion.

“I’m giving you the antidote in order to save you.”

And after ten minutes of brainstorming for an example of a proper time to use “in order to,” I haven’t been able to come up with anything. Legitimate uses of “in order to” are just that few and far between.

“Very” and “Really”

Words are self-contained descriptors, and saying, “Think of tasty. Now think of more tasty” doesn’t help readers develop a better sense of the meal or person you’re describing.

“Her breath was very cold chill as ice against my neck.”

Mark Twain suggested that writers could “substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” Another strategy is to find a more powerful version of the same idea or give concrete details. To say “It was very/really/damn hot” does little, but saying “It was scorching” helps. Even better?: “The air rippled like desert sky as my body crisped into a reddened, dried-out husk.”

“Is”

Is, am, are, was, or were—whatever form your “is” takes, it’s likely useless. When’s the last time you and your friends just “was’d” for a while? Have you ever said, “Hey, guys, I can’t—I’m busy am-ing”?

The “is” verbs are connecting terms that stand between your readers and the actual description. This is especially true when it comes to the “is” + “ing” verb pair. Any time you use “is,” you’re telling the reader that the subject is in a state of being. Using an “ing” verb tells the audience the verb is in process. By using “is verbing,” you’re telling your audience that the subject is in the state of being of being in the process of doing something.

Take this example:

“I was sprinting sprinted toward the doorway.”

If the description is actually about a state of being—”they are angry,” “are evil,” or “are dead”—then is it up. But don’t gunk up your verbs with unnecessary is, am, or was-ing.

“Started”

Any action a person takes is started, continued, and finished. All three of these can be expressed by the root form of the verb. For example, “I jumped.” The reader who stops in frustration, saying, “But when did the jump start? When did it finish?” has problems well beyond the scope of the content they’re reading.

If you’ve been doing yoga for six years, you could reasonably say, “I started doing yoga six years ago.” For you, yoga is an ongoing action with a concrete starting point. But when describing action in a story, there are few circumstances where “start” is effective.

Let’s take this case and look at the potential fixes:

He started screaming.

Is it a single scream? Use “He screamed.” Are you telling us his screams will be background noise for a while? Rather than clueing us in unnecessarily, show us the series of screams first-hand. Do you want to introduce a changed state, such as escalating from loud speaking into screaming? Show us the decibels, the gruffness of voice, the way the air feels to the person he’s screaming at, and the hot dryness in the screamer’s throat as his volume crescendos.

“That”

“That” is a useful word for adding clarity, but like Bibles on the bedstands of seedy motel rooms, the word’s presence is often out of plac<<e.

When “that” is employed to add a description, you can almost always move the description to before the term and make a more powerful image.

“Ireland was nothing but flowing green hills that flowed green.”

In many other cases, “that” can simply be dropped or replaced with a more descriptive term.

“I was drunk the night that your father and I met.”

Many other uses of “that,” such as “I wish I wasn’t that ugly”, can be enhanced with more descriptive language.

“Like”

I’m not just saying that, like, you shouldn’t, like, talk like a valley girl (though that too). Here’s the problem: “Like” is used to show uncertainty. And you. Should. Not. Be. Uncertain.

Be bold. When making a comparison, use force. Use metaphor over simile. Don’t let yourself cop out by coming up with a halfway description.

“My eyes rested on the gun for a sliver of a moment. I snapped forward, grabbed it, and it was like the chill metal flowed from the gun into my veins.”

One of the 36 articles by the infamously fantastic Chuck Palahniuk dives into the issue of like in great detail. It’s well worth checking out.

As always, Orwell’s final rule applies: “Break any of these rules before saying anything barbarous.” There are instances where each of these words fills a valuable role. However, especially among inexperienced writers, these words are frequently molested and almost always gum up the works.

Apply these lessons immediately and consistently to empower your words. Then, with practice, you will suddenly realize that you are starting to naturally trim the text in order to create prose that is very powerful.

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Grammar Humor Quoted

Enunciate, Bitches!

enunciate