Language, please don’t abuse it

I’m a stickler for getting things right. We all make mistakes, we’re only human, but some things are not mistakes. They’re ignorance. One of the most pervasive forms of ignorance, and one that really bothers me as a writer, is the incorrect use of language. The other day I was having a conversation with someone online. I won’t go into details about who it was or the exact subject of the conversation, but they hit me with this line:

“Irregardless, I could care less.”

I nearly had an aneurism. I managed to end the conversation and move away quietly without ripping their virtual head off, which was quite an achievement for me. There is so much wrong with that single sentence.

There is no such word as “irregardless”, people. It makes no linguistic or grammatical sense.

having or showing no regard; heedless; unmindful (often fol. by of ).
without concern as to advice, warning, hardship, etc.; anyway: I must make the decision regardless.
regardless of, in spite of; without regard for: They’ll do it regardless of the cost.

When people say “irregardless” they mean “regardless”. Simple as that.

The phrase “I could care less” actually says exactly the opposite of what the person means. They are trying to say that they care so little about the given subject that it would be impossible to care less about it. Therefore, the expression is “I could not care less.”

I’m sure that anyone reading this hardly needs the explanations above. Right? Anyway, that brain snapping comment lead me to post this on Twitter/Facebook:

It should be legal to punch people in the face when they say, “irregardless”. And when they say, “I could care less.”

Not that I could punch someone in the face over the internet – even my skills don’t stretch that far – but you know what I mean. That post triggered a flood of comments on all the other things people say that are just mind-achingly wrong. That conversation eventually lead to the phrase:

“I literally [insert thing you didn’t literally do here].”

Such as, “I literally died.” If only. Sadly, that’s not true. Which lead to my friend Damien Smith pointing me in the direction of this excellent comic from The Oatmeal – a website I love. (Click for a larger image.)

Yes, I’m afraid this whole post, other than being very valid, was so that I could post the awesome Gayroller 2000. Brilliant. Go and spend time The Oatmeal and enjoy yourself.


Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • StumbleUpon
  • LinkedIn
  • MySpace
  • Reddit
  • Slashdot
  • Technorati
  • RSS
  • Twitter

3 thoughts on “Language, please don’t abuse it

  1. What about “I didn’t do nothing.” That one really tweaks my head-eating reflex.

    I can see “I literally died” appearing in an upcoming vampire story if I ever get around to writing it.

  2. I once had an argument with an employee over the non-word “irregardless.” He wouldn’t give in. And he kept saying it just to piss me off. I literally died. Luckily, I was revived. 😉

Leave a Comment