“Irregardless” and Other Non-Words

Did you cringe when you read the title of this post? Me too. I cringed writing it.

“Irregardless” is not a word, yet, you wouldn’t believe how many people don’t know this. People who are parents. People who have kids. People who are passing on their words, their language and the respect (or lack thereof) for both. Accordingly, we’re seeing a growing number of children who neither practice nor care about using language correctly, let alone spelling.

There seems to be a trend towards the vernacular – and then some. I’m all for using slang, colloquialisms and more – where appropriate. I’m even okay with my kids doing the same, as long as they know the proper words or terms as well. Unfortunately, they often don’t, resulting in a growing number of children who are unable to distinguish right from wrong, at least where spelling and language are involved.

What is alarming is the fact that we have collectively embraced the incorrect spellings, the non-words and the phrases that don’t follow grammar rules and have happily allowed our children to follow suit. Text messaging has added to this problem with a whole generation of kids believing that IMHO, SMH, BRB and TTYL are sufficient ways of conveying their thoughts. They may indeed be, if the method of communication is a cellphone; otherwise these word abbreviations just don’t cut it.

We are raising a generation that is increasingly growing to disregard language and the importance of clear expression. Texting, “tweeting” and updating Facebook with the latest acronyms and word shortcuts may be alright to one’s peer group, but try using this same tactic with a potential or current employer. Unless they’re equally versed and comfortable in using this same sort of communication, it likely won’t wash.

Unfortunately, children and young adults think that they’re able to handle any situation with which they’re presented, and will always prevail. This, as we know as parents, is not generally the case. Their lack of foresight has landed more than one sorry child or young adult in a less than ideal situation.

“We are raising a generation that is increasingly growing to disregard language and the importance of clear expression.”

As much as we may be irritated with “irregardless” and similar non-words, we as parents must take some responsibility with our kids’ spelling and grammar (or lack thereof). As long as we perpetuate and go along with their poor communication choices and truncated words, we are just as responsible for our children’s failures as they relate to these areas. In other words, when our children fail to make the grade (literally and figuratively) and are denied entry into college, university or their dream job due to their poor spelling and grammar choices, we too are culpable.

Charity begins at home and the buck stops there as well. We as parents are our kids’ best examples for success – or failure – so let’s do our part to assure that they achieve success and not the alternative. After all, if we don’t set an example for our children, who will?

Do you enforce correct spelling and grammar in your home, with your kids? Why or why not?

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  1. Debbie McCormick says

    You hit the nail on the head with this. One thing I have noticed more lately is the way younger people write sentences such as I’m havinggg a grreattt daayyyyyyy.

    I do it sometimes when typing certain things like nooooooo, or meeee toooo., so maybe I’m just as guilty but it seems like it is happening too much with ALL the words of a sentence and is getting out of hand. IMHO, haha

    1. Samantha says

      Isn’t it infuriating?!?! I, too, will use colloquialisms such as “Nooooo,” etc., but ONLY with my friends in an informal setting or email; NEVER in a formal or business-related setting. Kids (and many adults) don’t realize that they’re being judged by their lack of grammar and spelling which may result in the loss of a potential job, or worse!

  2. Ellie {Musing Momma} says

    Definitely! It is so important, for all of the reasons you mention. My husband corrects my son every time he says “you guys” – “Mommy isn’t a guy” – which I find kind of amusing since I grew up in New England where “you guys” is totally acceptable. πŸ™‚

    1. Samantha says

      So true, Ellie! I grew up in a home where my parents would correct my brothers and me as well if we used improper grammar. It was irritating at the time but I now appreciate that knowing how to articulate oneself in a proper fashion is an advantage, despite what some people may think. Thanks for your comment πŸ™‚

  3. The Urban Daddy says

    Another wonderful post.

    I’m of that generation where spelling was not focussed on in grade school and spell checkers arrived on emails and word processors. Very frustrating trying to write an essay for University and having to change a sentence because I was not sure the word I wanted to use was spelled correctly. This is also one of the reasons I began blogging, in order to improve my spelling and grammer because at age 40 in a senior management position at a bank I felt like I needed to spell better.

    So yes, we do enforce it at home but we’re not making the kids change every misspelled word. We know it takes time and we see which words they misspell on a regular basis so we take our time and get them on track one word at a time.

    As for “irregardless”, I was having this discussion recently with someone about it not being a word. now I can send over your post to back up my argument. πŸ™‚

    Happy New Year!


    1. Samantha says

      Hi Warren,
      I totally understand the fact that kids take time to learn how to spell and to use correct grammar; that’s how they learn – by trial and error. What I don’t understand are parents who don’t reinforce the need to learn spelling, grammar, etc. at all. I hear kids of all ages, particularly older ones, using really bad English and I’m not just talking slang or colloquialisms. No, I’m talking about full-on “irregardless”-type words and similar. It makes me cringe every time I hear it because I know that these kids have no idea that what they’re saying is completely incorrect. Even worse is when this type of loosely-held “English” is used and reinforced within the home. Sad for the kids and even sadder when they try to get a job and can’t put a sentence together properly, or without spelling errors. I think on the whole, the Internet has ironically added to this ignorance of proper grammar usage because just as easily as one can look up the correct words, they can read more with bad grammar and texting verbiage, e.g. “LOL,” “OMG” and “SMH” to name a few. When short-forms and shortcuts get normalized, there’s not that much incentive to learn how to really use the language properly – and that’s really a shame. Thanks for your comment πŸ™‚

  4. Kathy Radigan says

    I loved this piece the first time I read it and I love it even more today!! Thanks!! (Of course, I always worry about my comments being grammatically correct!!)