IS IRREGARDLESS A WORD?
Recently, while sitting at my day job desk, I heard the word – the one word guaranteed to rocket me into hyperspace faster than any starship dreamed of. ‘Irregardless’. It’s a corruption, an abomination. I despise the word. My inherent sense of English says it’s illogical and I knew Spock would agree. Yet I hear it much too frequently for my sanity to endure. What I needed was an answer to the burning question – Is ‘Irregardless’ a word?
I started with dictionaries – Websters, Oxford English, American Heritage. Some listed it, though only to tell you it’s non-standard, improper, and just plain wrong. I began to feel stirrings of vindication. I turned to other sources, English publications, the Internet, and university websites. What I discovered is a word so steeped in controversy, so thoroughly reviled, it will likely go down in history.
The dreadful Irregardless is thought to have started in the U.S. in early 20th century, a misguided blend of regardless and irrespective. And yet, the most frequently repeated phrase by grammarians, professors, and informed people everywhere is, “There is no such word.” Oh, it exists all right, in all its illogical absurdity, and consistently condemned in every reference I found.
Why, you wonder? The problem is this: Irregardless is a double negative. Fine if you are working a mathematical equation, a big bugaboo in English grammar. It is a redundancy, a contradiction. The suffix ‘less’ makes regardless negative, adding the prefix ‘ir’ is a blunder, a serious grammatical crime. Yet, somehow, its usage in speech is becoming commonplace.
I tried to reason why. Despite being hatched on the wrong side of the grammatical blanket, the word has a fine flow. Exudes a stronger negative emphasis than the mere regardless. So much so, that even reporters, broadcasters, and reputable newspapers have succumbed to the seduction of it. This inadvertent use does not lend the word respectability however; it only demonstrates the human appetite for irrationality.
My question is this – Shall we tolerate Irregardless even though we know it is substandard English? Do we lie down and accept the unacceptable? I say NO! We fight the slide into illegitimacy as a matter of principle! We must band together and uphold the laws of proper English, ruthlessly boot out bogus words infiltrating our every day speech.
When it comes right down to it – it’s the only civilized thing to do.