You are not orientated correctly, irregardless.

I had hoped to catch another “typo in the wild” as Ray put it last week, but sadly the sign I spied over the weekend was gone today. It was one of those mobile signs with removable letters, sitting in the parking lot of a small resale shop. I did a double-take when I spied it because a) I wasn’t sure I saw it correctly and b) I was driving, and had to watch the traffic. The sign proudly proclaimed “SHABBY SHEEK.” Yeah. “Sheek.” Perhaps it was a “cute” misspelling of the kind I first learned about in 6th grade English class, and which I’ve hated from that very day. Perhaps it was really about a down-at-heel Saudi fellow, in which case it was still spelled incorrectly, but the end result would’ve been far closer to the actual spelling. Sadly, I suspect that neither of those possibilities is what actually happened. I suspect that whoever placed the letters has no clue that “chic” is the word they were after, and just went with the closest phonetic spelling. We’ll never know for sure.

Now, for the rant. As the blog entry says, “You are not orientated properly, irregardless.” Backformations drive me batty. Some of them are indeed correct, standard English words. However, “orientate” is not standard American English. It’s more commonly used in British English. This article explains that speakers and writers on both sides of the Big Pond bemoan the other’s usage.

As for me and my house (is that Biblical enough for you? I hope so, it’s about as Biblical as I’ll get–and notice, that’s capitalized because I’m referring to the Bible, not to something generally enormous. But I digress.), we will continue to use the American standard formation of “orient” because it’s standard American English. And because it sounds better. So there.

Regardless of what we choose to do, you are free to do as you please. Note, I didn’t say “irregardless”–because that’s not a word. It’s wrong. The word is “regardless.” Just because “respective” has as its antonym “irrespective” does not automatically mean that “regardless” needs an “ir-” prefix. It’s not only redundant (the word already means “without regard for”), it’s wrong. Stop it. Please.

That’s a pretty short rant, but it’s nearly 100 degrees outside and I’m easily tired today. I hope it’s still enjoyable. Later, folks.


[calendar pages fly in a strong wind, moving from July 23, 2012 to March 24, 2015]

[dolly shot from calendar to editor’s work space, hands on a backlit keyboard]

Wow, how times change a person. Well, times and continued education and making connections in other fields related to one’s chosen area. Linguists are way cool, I’ve found out.

And because I’ve been hanging with linguists and lexicographers and other editors with experiences different from my own, I need to update this post a little. I’m here to tell you that “irregardless” is, indeed, a word. It is. It has meaning; we know exactly what someone means when they say it (the same thing as “regardless”), even if we get on our high horse and pontificate about how we can’t possibly know because the person’s not speaking proper English and that’s not even a word and how dare they you get the picture, I hope.

It’s even in the dictionary.

Watch Kory Stamper of Merriam-Webster explain “irregardless” by clicking this here link thing.

Now, before you stomp off into the distance raving about my traitorous stance, hear me out. One of my favorite sayings is “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” Usually I apply that to things like scientific fringe procedures that I find ethically (and probably morally) questionable. However, it also applies to language usage. Sure, “irregardless” is a word. That doesn’t oblige ANYONE to use it. It simply means that those who choose to use it have made that choice.

What others think about them for having made that choice is up to those others. For myself? I don’t use it. I don’t care to hear it and I certainly twitch when I see it in print (unless I’m reading Internet comments or very casual writing). As for me and my house, we will still say “regardless.”





3 thoughts on “You are not orientated correctly, irregardless.

  1. I’m glad to see you have embraced the living language, warts and all.

    Indeed we have a wonderfully flexible language where new words come and go as they please (or as we please) and as long as they communicate effectively they are useful words.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s