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Education

Irregardless of its reputation, a word perseveres

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Though it may be underlined in red immediately after I type it, “irregardless” is indeed a word.

Anne Curzan, a professor of English at the University of Michigan, confirms its legitimacy ; but its usage, she warns, only invites contempt.

“A year ago I was talking with someone, and I said, ‘You know, people use it, it’s in most dictionaries.' And you could see that his respect for me and my scholarly perspective was shaken,” says Curzan.

The word comes from a blend of “irrespective and regardless.”

“Most people seem to use irregardless synonymously with regardless,” says Curzan.

While redundant, it is joined by a swarm of other words and phrases of its kind.

“Language is redundant. You hear us use the same word twice in phrases like ‘free gift,’” says Curzan. "A verb that is sneaking in is 'de-thaw.'"

Irregardless of its redundancy and mixed reputation, irregardless continues to thrive in our language.

"Linguists would say that if it's a word and we know what it means, it's a word, and you'll find it in most dictionaries," says Curzan.

- Cameron Stewart, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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