The Word Is Regardless
Why can't you be arrested for murdering a language?
Sometimes I have to laugh. I am left with no choice but to see the humor and irony in it.
Recently, I have had the pleasure of perusing the classifieds online in search of that perfect writing or teaching job. My quest has revealed (I can't say surprisingly) the absolute mangling our language is suffering. Our language is being dismantled, disassembled and dismembered on a daily basis. My only wish is that I had the time to notify all those who literally murder our language. In one particularly amusing ad the employer emphasized that “Aplicants must have impeckable grammer and spelling to be considerd.” It’s rather amusing and frightening all at the same time; amusing for the mixed messages being sent and frightening because somebody is going to read it without knowing the difference. Then I considered that perhaps this person might be a victim of Hooked on Phonics.
Technology vs. Technique
I remember a time when spelling and grammar actually counted for something; when classroom spelling bees challenged and, sometimes, embarrassed us. But the idea was sound. Learn the words, and you just might be able to use them. Grab a paper and pencil, and write. I think it put us more in touch with the language. We relied on ourselves, a dictionary, and “i-before-e” rules. English wasn’t just a set of inconvenient rules we followed; it was a testament to our education to be able to spell correctly and put a sentence together grammatically.
We live in a world of technology and I embrace it. I like the old school way of thinking, but I rely on new technology to make it more convenient. It will not, as far as I can see, replace the knowledge I have acquired and I won’t let it make me lazy; though it would be easy (I know this from the plethora of software ads beckoning me to enter a few keywords to create a completely unique article). Spell checkers are great, but nothing will replace a good proofreading. Who hasn’t sent a message with “form” where a “from” should have been? Who hasn’t become a casualty of the occasional “bye,” “by,” or “buy” debacle, or the “too,” “to,” or “two” calamity?
Text and Context
From my perspective, I find it annoying whenever I hear a professional using words out of context, or using words that don’t exist. “Irregardless” is one of my biggest pet peeves. Let’s break down the word as if it did exist. When used, its context usually references that which the word “regardless” already has covered. In most cases, when “ir” is added to a word it means the opposite of the root word; like irrelevant or irrational. If regardless means without regard, wouldn’t irregardless mean with regard?
Don’t get me wrong. I know there are a lot of confusing rules and, for that matter, exceptions to the rules. Take the prefix “in.” When added to comparable, one becomes unique or incomparable. I can be the opposite of discreet by being indiscreet. But, when added to flammable, one becomes flammable or inflammable. Why is that? When added to genius, one becomes genius-like or ingenious. Which prompts two questions: “Is genius the root word, and if so, where did the “o” come from in ingenious?” One might call it incredibly inconvenient or inconceivable. Would that be an example of sight or insight?
Wasting a Beautiful Language
These nuances give our language its beautiful complexity. In the hands of a literary master (which I am not), these same words can paint pictures that Monet would envy. These words can transport us to places unseen and only imagined; extremes of serenity, terror, joy, or sorrow. We may all have an inner Shakespeare or Hemingway, but how are we to find out if all we write are IM’s, BFF’s and LOL’s? How are we to expound literally if creativity is defined by search terms and Google? I wonder what clever critique would be penned by Oscar Wilde when reviewing articles written to be SEO compliant.
My greatest hope is that we don’t completely lose track of the one truly social skill that sets us apart from the animal kingdom; the written word. It is not for me to judge. I barely made it through high school. But if not for a certain command of the language, I would not be where I am today. Unemployed and answering ads placed by those that have spelling issues.