Thursday, March 30, 2006

Irregardless of what you think, words make an impression

Ever since I was little, spelling, grammar, and pronunciation has been pounded into my brain by my mother. Well, maybe not the grammar - she still doesn't know how to use the words "good" and "well" properly, apparently. (she admits this and I say this in the most good-natured way!) I guess from the very beginning I was destined to become an anal-retentive engineer.

Sidenote: my insistence on correct pronunciation actually caused me one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. When I was in fifth grade, we read a story in which there was a black boy from the south who was either poor or not well-educated, I can't remember which. Maybe poor - it makes this even more embarrassing. The teacher asked us all how we could know that he was poor and me, being the bright, young thing that I was, raised my hand and said, "You can tell by the way he talks."

Throughout the story, the spoken words from this boy were spelled as sounded in a southern black accent. (thing = thang, sure enough = sho nuff, etc.) Mine was actually not the correct answer (can you believe?!), but what made it even worse was that the split second after these words left my mouth, I realized what an incredible idiot I actually was. My teacher, even though she was teaching the heartland of America, was originally from, yes, you guessed it, the South. She had quite a strong southern accent. And I had just called her poor (or stupid) for her accent. I still have no idea what the correct answer was. I spent the rest of the class period so mortified by my own words that I have no idea what else took place. I don't think I looked her in the eye for the rest of the school year. Mrs. Enz, if you're reading this, I'm really, really sorry about that! It really is one of the most shameful experiences of my life.

(However, I still stand strong in the opinion that because Bush can't say the word "nuclear" correctly, he is an absolute idiot.)

Anyway, back to the real story... on NPR this morning (yes, I listen to NPR! If you had to live in Houston and put up with Houston radio, you would listen, too!!) Anyway, on NPR this morning there were a couple of different stories about people misusing words and how some meanings of words have kind of gotten lost by over-use. (Book that was profiled, Engines of our Ingenuity)

And then, lo and behold, I get to work and have a little time, so I check some of the blogs I read and over at A Curate's Egg, he's got an amusing take on different words in the English language.

So, I'm taking this as a sign that my post today should focus on the two words that annoy me the most. The first of which is the word "irregardless". This is not a word, people!!! The correct word is "regardless". By putting "ir" in front of the word, you're creating a double-negative in the same word. And as soon as you say this word in front of me, my mind goes into a tailspin of "double-negative - irregardless - regardful? - regarding? - regard... period? does not compute - aaarrrgh!!" My mind turns all Vulcan and I can't get past the illogic in that word.

The second word that causes my blood pressure to go soaring is "methodology". I'm quite certain this is a made-up word that some consultant created in order to make their work sound more important. "We use the Williams Methodology to make your company more efficient." Or "By using the Aaron Methodology to teach, we're expanding your child's horizons."

The thing that bugs me about this word is that there was already a word that covered this idea: Method. That's it. Don't add the -ology on to the end of it. When you add -ology on to the end of it, it's supposed to mean "the study of" something. Archaeology. Psychology. Biology.

The context in which this word is always used around me is the form where you could (and should) say "method" instead of "methodology" and it would be correct and more accurate. However, I'm fighting a losing battle on this one. Methodology has already somehow made it's way into Webster's Dictionary. And man, that pisses me off.

2 comments:

This Guy said...

Apparently, good old Merriam-Webster is now accepting "literally" to mean the same as "virtually".

I'm so confused. Up is down, white is black, pink is the new blog. I need a vacation.

Lillie said...

Wonderful! I was reading through this and thinking, "Wait, she wrote 'irregardless.' She can't be seriously thinking she understands the English language after that! What an idiot!" You see, it is one of those "words" that drives me nuts too. What relief to keep reading...