Two Words that Need to Die

Calvin and Hobbes, March 23, 1993

We all have our favorite words. Take “quark,” for example. That is a very good word. “Torque” and “weasel” are also another good words, as are “banana,” “Ichetucknee,” “facetious,” and “superfluous.” Words like that are fun to say. There are other words, however, which though common in spoken English and perhaps other people’s favorites, make my ears bleed. These words need to die.

The first word is “irregardless.” According to Merriam-Webster, this word has been around since 1912. To give you a bit of context, the Boy Scouts have been around since 1910. This suggests that the word is resilient, like “ain’t”. Coincidentally, in the US South, where “ain’t” enjoys much of its popularity, double negative constructions persist. “I ain’t done nothing wrong.” The intent of this sentence is denial, but technically, it is a confession. “I have not done nothing wrong.” Calvin would like that sentence. Irregardless is also a double negative. The prefix and suffix mean the same thing. “ir-” means “not, without; in, into,” and “-less” means “without.” So “irregardless” is “without without regard.” I am not sure what that means, strictly speaking. What it does mean, more generally, is that the populace does not have a handle on their Latin roots and is adding chaos to American English. Hey, What is English if not chaotic?

The second word is “disrespecting,” as in, “Stop disrespecting me!” I recently discovered (to my horror) that “disrespect” is, in fact, a proper verb, but I had heard it in so often in the much more questionable “disrespecting” that it had begun to sound wrong, as words, like shady characters, do when you look too hard at them. Take the word “pant.” Pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant, pant! “Disrespecting” takes “shady” to an entirely new level. If “pant” is shady, then “disrespecting” is mafia. In the first place, I do not like the word “disrespect,” but I suppose it is necessary if one would rather say “He disrespects me!” than “He has no respect for me!” “Disrespecting” has no excuse. It is just as easy, and much cleaner, to say “not respecting.” One could argue that this phrase portrays a lack of action rather than an action. So does “disrespecting.” So really, what we need is a simple verb for “being saucy” or “sticking one’s tongue out,” a useful word like “defenestrating.” “Stop disrespecting” commits the sin of the double negative. “Stop not respecting me!” could be more vehemently expressed as “Respect me!”

That’s my view on the matter. “Irregardless” and “disrespecting”, even “disrespect” to a certain extent, are painful and elongated and should never have been created, much like this post; but I would like to use it to congratulate Chrs the skilled grammar-nazi on her engagement to Pheonix, a Watterson fan. Congrats Chrs and Pheonix. Congrats Calvin and Hobbes.

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2 thoughts on “Two Words that Need to Die

  1. Pingback: Science Is Not Exact « Rauldy

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