A Writer’s Confession

I have a confession to make. It’s more embarrassing than the fact that I never remember to put the period inside the quotes, more juvenile than my dislike for sans serif fonts, and far more irrelevant than the strength of my opinion on serial commas.

Here it is: I love the word “irregardless.” Now you know my guilty secret. It’s not just that it’s a “wrong” word—there’s something deeper going on here. My attraction stems from the fact that it’s beautifully, expressively wrong. This one, sweet word takes the meaning of its component parts, and adds an audible stamp of emphasis.

Irregardless is formed by combining “irrespective,” which is made nearly useless by its snootiness factor (“John, current economic conditions necessitate the discontinuance of your tenure here, irrespective of your professional proficiencies”), and “regardless,” which is perfectly useful, if a bit unremarkable (“John, we’re laying you off, regardless of your skill set”). But, put the two together, and you have this brawny mixture of false pomposity and emphasis (“John—you’re the best, but you’re fired irregardless!”).

You’re probably thinking, “but it’s still wrong!” Yes, I know. Garner’s Modern American Usage even refers to it as a semiliterate nonword that should be swatted when encountered. My only defense is that I didn’t major in English in college. Oh, I thought about it. English majors get to read tons of books, but not the right sort. I value my emotional outlook on life far too much to immerse myself in Tess of the D’urbervilles or The Palm Wine Drinkard when I could be chilling with Paul “Muad’Dib” Atreides.

So I found a major that didn’t lead directly to existential angst and/or depression, and occasionally I embrace my plebeian roots by slumming with old word-friends when I’m chatting with friends (or blogging). But even though the literati of the world will tell me that wrong is wrong, I’m going to hold on to my happy little indulgence, irregardless.

Monelle Smith blogs for Gemstone Media, located in Boise, Idaho.


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