My favourite non-controversial controversy this week is whether or not “irrregardless” is a word. LOL, my spellcheck evidently doesn’t consider it a word, because it just underlined it in red. But that’s been the debate the last few days because Merriam-Webster includes it in their dictionary, explaining that:
“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.”
Many people have now taken exception to this. Regardless (ha!) of your opinion on the matter, though, Merriam-Webster’s essay on the debate over “irregardless” is amazing and hilarious. I screamed at the paragraph that includes the words “cursed millennials” and am delighted that in a piece defending their decision to define “irregardless”, they used the expression “trolling readers”. How’s that for wordplay and the evolution of language?
I don’t use “irregardless”. I don’t love it when people do. That said, I’m not mad at Merriam-Webster for acknowledging its existence. I don’t see their acknowledgement of the existence of the word as an endorsement of the use of it. What I do find interesting is language purism, because I could probably be categorised as a word purist (for example: I hate the word “utilise”) but there is an emerging school of thought that word purism is essentially classism, particularly where the English language is concerned. Language is a communication tool, so it’s up to the user to engage with it in a way that best expresses what they want to say – and this is determined by their environment, by their experiences. And hasn’t culture benefited more from those who have creatively pushed the English language forward than from the language police constantly trying to contain a thing that cannot be contained? Language is dynamic, an organism that responds accordingly to stimuli and stressors and reacts – sometimes by shrinking, but only as a prelude to expansion and growth.
Does that mean that eventually it will be acceptable to say that “Namjoon drove Jungkook and I to the airport” instead of “Namjoon drove Jungkook and me to the airport”? Well now I’m getting itchy. Not quite there yet. But probably, one day, someone will make the case for it. How will we feel about it then?
Yours in gossip,