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regarding irregardless Options
RubyMoon
Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 1:29:29 PM
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What do you think of words like irregardless making their way into the dictionary even though it is stated that it is "nonstandard" and it is best to use regardless? Should similar nonstandard words (that will probably continue to rise in number) be added to the dictionary since they are in use/circulated by the general public?
Todd C. Williams
Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 1:51:40 PM

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From your note I get the feeling your are referring to this as a new event. Irregardless has been in the dictionary as non-standard for many years. My 1964 Webster's has it listed as irregular.

To me I do not understand why it is irregular and reiterate is not. Unless the latter really means to iterate again, but I have never heard it used that way. Any time I have heard in that context people have said the iteration needs to be done again.

TCW
Luftmarque
Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 2:11:00 PM

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RubyMoon wrote:
What do you think of words like irregardless making their way into the dictionary even though it is stated that it is "nonstandard" and it is best to use regardless? Should similar nonstandard words (that will probably continue to rise in number) be added to the dictionary since they are in use/circulated by the general public?

Of course, that's how language evolves, says the Descriptivist.
RubyMoon
Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 2:15:36 PM
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Possibly reiterate implies one is emphatic about being clear/understood by re-repeating in an attempt to make sure the listener(s) gets the point. Irregardless doesn't seem to serve the same function, if at all the two 'ideas' are related this way-- irregardless doesn't emphasize regardless. I am wondering if being in a 1964 dictionary is a long time or really a very short span of time. I guess I still have to reiterate(?) my original point: should essentially incorrect words be added to the dictionary simply because people use them?
Thank you for your comments and for the example... it helped.
RubyMoon
Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 2:21:14 PM
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Can language evolve incorrectly and be an eventual detriment to the collective intellect of a society?
Luftmarque
Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 2:22:40 PM

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RubyMoon wrote:
Possibly reiterate implies one is emphatic about being clear/understood by re-repeating in an attempt to make sure the listener(s) gets the point. Irregardless doesn't seem to serve the same function, if at all the two 'ideas' are related this way-- irregardless doesn't emphasize regardless. I am wondering if being in a 1964 dictionary is a long time or really a very short span of time. I guess I still have to reiterate(?) my original point: should essentially incorrect words be added to the dictionary simply because people use them?
Thank you for your comments and for the example... it helped.

With language, something becomes correct over time. Simply because people use it. There's no essential there.
early_apex
Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 2:46:28 PM
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Over time, even word constructions and phrases that make us cringe become accepted, and our cringe reflex becomes dulled.

A phrase that always gets to me is can't help but. Logically, the but has no reason to be there, and most likely snuck in from an older construction cannot but.

Since you brought it up, there is no reason to say hot water heater. As George Carlin pointed out, if you have hot water, you don't need to heat it.

Customer: I need a hot water heater.
Store Owner: No, you don't.
(You just have to imagine GC's delivery on this one)
RubyMoon
Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 2:58:22 PM
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Thanks, early apex. Interesting points. My cringe reflex is fully flexed with certain nonstandard words, yet I can't help but now realize that other words or phrases don't hit the same nerve... hot water heater never bothered me before. It probably will now. I suppose cold water heater is overkill.
RubyMoon
Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 3:17:02 PM
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p.s. My greatest fear is that of misprounced words eventually making their way to the dictionary... realator, jewlery, and worst of all (as a scientist) nucular becoming an acceptable alternative to nuclear.
Luftmarque
Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 3:30:06 PM

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RubyMoon wrote:
p.s. My greatest fear is that of mispronounced words eventually making their way to the dictionary... realator, jewlery, and worst of all (as a scientist) nucular becoming an acceptable alternative to nuclear.

OK, yeah, sure languages evolve and there is no authority to declare acceptability, but nucular? Now that's just going too far, and up with this I will not put!

p.s. I have to stop myself every time I refer to TFD, I keep wanting to say "the TFD" but of course that would mean "the The Free Dictionary" and the illogicality of it would cause my brain to explode. The part of my brain that hasn't yet been eaten alive by repeated exposure to BadgerBadgerBadgerMushroomMushroom.
RubyMoon
Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 3:41:56 PM
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...and yet a couple of our U.S. Presidents say nucular, so much so that at one time in the near past it was up for consideration as an alternative for nuclear. Big Cringe and Shudder!
Todd C. Williams
Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 3:58:23 PM

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I somehow misread your intent. Looking back I am not sure how. Anyway, since nonstandard words (irregardless), or more generally slang (ain't), are in heavy usage in both spoken and written language, doesn't it make sense to include them in the dictionary as such? I sure think so. This is the only place where someone looking up meaning of a word to find it is nonstandard, slang or some other less-than-acceptable word. How can someone know the spelling of of difference between the yah (yes), yeah (hooray or is that yes?), yep, etc. The dictionary is not a tablet of law, it is a reference document for the choice ans use of words (diction). Although many native English speakers need to look it up, many of our ESL friends in this forum rely on that. I surely do not think they should be in a spell checker, though.
alvrez
Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 4:09:07 PM
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Language, like all things, is subject to change. there is nothing we can do about it. our useage is different than that of our parents and theirs is different from our grandparents, etc. We have only to do as they did, acknowledge the change and shake our heads.
Spanish Teacher
Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 6:28:18 PM
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I am a high school Spanish teacher (as you can tell from my user name - no mystery there!), as such, I am regularly confronted with this vexing point of language: it is "alive" and constantly evolving. I believe this to be true for any language. I agree with how people currently speak and how the quality of it, whether composed of archaic words or out-dated expressions, has evolved: how our grandparents spoke, compared to our parents, compared to ourselves.

However, I also recognize that our society, modern and contemporary as it is, greatly benefits from technology and accessibility of said technology. For example, in my home office I have at my disposal many references that will ensure my consistent usage of various lexicons: on-line dictionaries, dictionary software, and the tried and true physical dictionaries. All of these will allow me to quickly and effectively use what is considered the "current standard" of my two languages (English and Spanish). Having these references at my disposal so readily permits me to maintain a constant lexicon and diction (the words available to me and HOW to use them, respectively). Others, too, will have similar references available to him or her, likewise maintaining a constant and current usage of vocabulary.

Of course, this doesn't mean that language will become stagnant and cease to change, evolve, and assimilate itself to current times. Every day there arises a need to create new words, and these words incorporate themselves into the modern lexicon, some more rapidly than others, and vice versa.

In the end, what I am suggesting is that because of the advent of technology (Internet, computers, dictionaries, etc.) spoken language will, to a certain degree, change more slowly than before. What's more, I believe language will be more prevalently constant/consistent.
Luftmarque
Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 7:04:24 PM

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Spanish Teacher wrote:
In the end, what I am suggesting is that because of the advent of technology (Internet, computers, dictionaries, etc.) spoken language will, to a certain degree, change more slowly than before. What's more, I believe language will be more prevalently constant/consistent.

Technology does have the potential of making language more homogeneous, yes. I like that idea a lot! Of course, it can also facilitate the formation of different "islands" of speech, like the chat-room patois my son uses.

But I think one can make the case that language, including spoken, could change more quickly if people are exposed to more words including pre-existing but little-used ones via their online interchanges and even prosaic tools like software thesauruses.
Luftmarque
Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 8:49:40 PM

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RubyMoon wrote:
Can language evolve incorrectly and be an eventual detriment to the collective intellect of a society?

No, I don't think so. More likely that language reflects the collective intellect of a society, because that's a major driver of the evolution in the first place.
RubyMoon
Posted: Thursday, July 2, 2009 12:53:38 AM
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Is the 'reflection' a major driver of the evolution?
Great point in any case.
Epiphileon
Posted: Friday, July 3, 2009 9:55:20 AM

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Luftmarque wrote:
RubyMoon wrote:
Can language evolve incorrectly and be an eventual detriment to the collective intellect of a society?

No, I don't think so. More likely that language reflects the collective intellect of a society, because that's a major driver of the evolution in the first place.


First I think the usage of "incorrectly" is problematic here, would you agree with stating it as, "Can language evolve in a way that it becomes a detriment to (opps, hmmm, what is "collective intelligence?) the average intelligence of the species?
If you agree, then I would say yes it can; however, it may be that other forces are driving the decay of language, so that the initial detriment is caused by another agency like Madison Avenue, (advertising, and marketing, industry) or television. The decay of language would bring a decay in thinking that would then further decay the language, and this would establish a feed back loop.
I am not at all convinced of the legitimacy of what I just proposed in that last bit but, put it here to see what others think.

Another thing I would like to submit is that the process of evolution has no correctness or incorrectness, a species can evolve right into extinction.

(edit) I think there is a real problem with the term evolution. As I reviewed what I said after posting, I'm not sure that the statement immediately above this edit is valid. Science and technology are evolutionary changes, however they may as well, lead to the extinction of humankind.
RubyMoon
Posted: Friday, July 3, 2009 10:31:43 AM
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Yes, I would agree with your re-statement of my original statement... I also find your proposal--The decay of language would bring a decay in thinking that would then further decay the language, and this would establish a feed back loop-- to be in sync with my beliefs on the subject. Thanks for your comments.

True, species become extinct and this is natural. Thousands of species become extinct daily without our even discovering and/or identifying them. Humans usually 'assist' this extinction which can be thought of as un-natural or natural depending on many factors. If we assist the decay of language and if it does indeed affect the collective intellect in a negative way, then maybe this is just a natural part of our own evolution (decline?), etc.
early_apex
Posted: Friday, July 3, 2009 10:43:43 AM
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I think we might be coming to a point where differences in dialect and local slang terms will decrease, while worldwide patterns of spoken English become more the norm. On this forum we have contributors from around the globe, and on days when we are really trying to communicate and not just joke around, we all tend toward language that is understandable to all. This is part of the process where we model our speech to that of our hearers (lookers). In isolated communities, speech patterns will diversify.

If a quorum of people were to say that irregardless is a great word, and sounds more weighty than regardless, then the use of that term would become normalized in that group.

The evolution that I see here is in mobility and electronic communication. I am told that there are differences between Puerto Rican Spanish and Mexican Spanish -- common words that are used for different nouns in each language subset. As people move from Puerto Rico and Mexico into the US, there speech will eventually merge, as long as these people do not remain in enclaves.

These are my thoughts, but I must confess not having read any books about language, unless you count George Orwell's 1984, which I actually read so long ago that there was still a chance of that book's society becoming a reality by 1984.
RubyMoon
Posted: Friday, July 3, 2009 10:43:48 AM
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It depends on your definition and understanding of evolution... classic Darwinian evolution?
Classic evolution usually deals with living things only. But if used in a more general and broad sense, then both living and non-living components evolve. I still see your statements as valid and agree... not sure if editing was needed... ?
early_apex
Posted: Friday, July 3, 2009 10:53:06 AM
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RubyMoon wrote:
Yes, I would agree with your re-statement of my original statement... I also find your proposal--The decay of language would bring a decay in thinking that would then further decay the language, and this would establish a feed back loop-- to be in sync with my beliefs on the subject. Thanks for your comments.

True, species become extinct and this is natural. Thousands of species become extinct daily without our even discovering and/or identifying them. Humans usually 'assist' this extinction which can be thought of as un-natural or natural depending on many factors. If we assist the decay of language and if it does indeed affect the collective intellect in a negative way, then maybe this is just a natural part of our own evolution (decline?), etc.


We do kill off words all the time, and for various reasons. We have already moved away from the word niggardly, because of its sound, without respect to its meaning. Other words our advertising culture has whipped out of shape, or their meaning has become diluted. Logically, the phrases "new and improved" and "free gift" are meaningless, but the more we see them, the word "new" seems less desirable due to its implied state of unimprovement, and "gift" sounds like it has strings attached, now that advertisers have taught us to look for them.
early_apex
Posted: Friday, July 3, 2009 10:55:06 AM
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RubyMoon wrote:
It depends on your definition and understanding of evolution... classic Darwinian evolution?
Classic evolution usually deals with living things only. But if used in a more general and broad sense, then both living and non-living components evolve. I still see your statements as valid and agree... not sure if editing was needed... ?


My personal beliefs about evolution are every bit as confused as they sound. I would submit, however, that we are talking about language as a living thing, even though it is not sentient.
RubyMoon
Posted: Friday, July 3, 2009 11:09:36 AM
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Oh no, not at all confusing-sounding beliefs or use of evolution, early apex. My statement was in reference to Epithileon's remarks which are also not confusing or un-sound.

Somewhere along the same lines of what you have just posted is this: people having a conversation and using a word they feel confident with (confident about the word's definition), and the person being spoken to has an alternate (or more correct?) definition while listening... the conversation can sure get screwed up.
Example-- when someone says to me lately that they are disinterested in whatever, I realize they really mean uninterested.
early_apex
Posted: Friday, July 3, 2009 11:15:43 AM
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RubyMoon wrote:
Oh no, not at all confusing-sounding beliefs or use of evolution, early apex. My statement was in reference to Epithileon's remarks which are also not confusing or un-sound.

Somewhere along the same lines of what you have just posted is this: people having a conversation and using a word they feel confident with (confident about the word's definition), and the person being spoken to has an alternate (or more correct?) definition while listening... the conversation can sure get screwed up.
Example-- when someone says to me lately that they are disinterested in whatever, I realize they really mean uninterested.


I have a coworker who is largely self-educated, and in technical discussions, I keep remembering that line from The Princess Bride: "You keep using that word, but I don't think that word means what you think it means."
Luftmarque
Posted: Friday, July 3, 2009 11:31:42 AM

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early_apex wrote:
I think we might be coming to a point where differences in dialect and local slang terms will decrease, while worldwide patterns of spoken English become more the norm. On this forum we have contributors from around the globe, and on days when we are really trying to communicate and not just joke around, we all tend toward language that is understandable to all. This is part of the process where we model our speech to that of our hearers (lookers).

Great observation. I do notice myself adjusting my style and register depending on whether I'm responding to an English newbie question and want to keep things simple and not confusing or free-associating on one of the more recreational topics. I hope that, while differences in dialect and slang may decrease, that will be because we all get to pick and choose from among all the idiolects we encounter.
grammargeek
Posted: Friday, July 3, 2009 1:29:08 PM
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Epiphileon wrote:
Luftmarque wrote:
RubyMoon wrote:
Can language evolve incorrectly and be an eventual detriment to the collective intellect of a society?

No, I don't think so. More likely that language reflects the collective intellect of a society, because that's a major driver of the evolution in the first place.


First I think the usage of "incorrectly" is problematic here, would you agree with stating it as, "Can language evolve in a way that it becomes a detriment to (opps, hmmm, what is "collective intelligence?) the average intelligence of the species?
If you agree, then I would say yes it can; however, it may be that other forces are driving the decay of language, so that the initial detriment is caused by another agency like Madison Avenue, (advertising, and marketing, industry) or television. The decay of language would bring a decay in thinking that would then further decay the language, and this would establish a feed back loop.
I am not at all convinced of the legitimacy of what I just proposed in that last bit but, put it here to see what others think.

Another thing I would like to submit is that the process of evolution has no correctness or incorrectness, a species can evolve right into extinction.

(edit) I think there is a real problem with the term evolution. As I reviewed what I said after posting, I'm not sure that the statement immediately above this edit is valid. Science and technology are evolutionary changes, however they may as well, lead to the extinction of humankind.



It seems this "evolution" involving negative change would be better labeled as "devolution." The word "evolution" implies not only change, but change to something more complex.
RubyMoon
Posted: Friday, July 3, 2009 2:04:25 PM
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Would "devolution" of words/language be a negative change but complex at the same time?
If regardless and irregardless are both in the dictionary and both have the same meaning, is this a negative-complex-devolution sort of thing?
Epiphileon
Posted: Saturday, July 4, 2009 9:45:18 AM

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grammargeek wrote:
It seems this "evolution" involving negative change would be better labeled as "devolution." The word "evolution" implies not only change, but change to something more complex.


Good morning Grammargeek, the term "devoluton" is actually a biological fallacy, see this explanation at Wikipedia.
ziggy2k8
Posted: Monday, July 6, 2009 2:57:27 PM
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While reading this forum, especially about the evolution of language, I couldn't help but think about Orwell's 1984 and the concept of Newspeak. Could society as a whole adopt (adapt to) words conceived and delivered to us from on high? (Think nucular.)
early_apex
Posted: Monday, July 6, 2009 3:23:39 PM
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ziggy2k8 wrote:
While reading this forum, especially about the evolution of language, I couldn't help but think about Orwell's 1984 and the concept of Newspeak. Could society as a whole adopt (adapt to) words conceived and delivered to us from on high? (Think nucular.)


You will be given more information (as needed) during Hate Week.
Romany
Posted: Tuesday, July 7, 2009 11:52:36 PM
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Ziggy - Oh, undoubtably. Don't most people already use "ethnic cleansing" instead of genocide, "friendly fire" to describe what killed someone who was shot by their own side, "let go" instead of sacked, and parrot entire phrases thundered at them from Presdients, Prime Ministers and TV anchor-persons, without ever considering the true meaning? (Does anyone remember how the term "grass roots" became applicable to everything from politics to polyandry?
Ketardously
Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 4:07:52 PM
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grammargeek wrote:
It seems this "evolution" involving negative change would be better labeled as "devolution." The word "evolution" implies not only change, but change to something more complex.


And "complex" is supposed to mean something good here?
Just kidding, but I want to point out that complex doesn't always mean good complex.
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