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A colleague approached the Word Nerd to ask about the differences between regardless and irregardless. Simply put, irregardless is not recognized as a word by many dictionaries (including the Word Nerd’s dictionary of choice the Canadian Oxford). However, dictionary.com lists irregardless as a “non-standard” word that can be used for emphasis. Unless you happen to have a PhD in English grammar and are known for your word nerdish ways, I would not recommend using irregardless as many people consider the use of this word to be a mark of ignorance.

Irregardless contains a double negative – “ir” and “less” – which renders its meaning hard to understand. Regardless (an adjective) means “without consideration.” For example: Regardless of the cost, we are going to take the kids to Disneyland next year.

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Spelling and grammer are important to learn so you don’t make mistakes like this one: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/yahoocanada/100811/canada/america_s_educational_system_captured_in_a_single_photo

Dictionaries! The Word Nerd recently received two excellent dictionaries for a birthday gift. The first one is an etymoloigcal dictionary (one that gives the origin and/or history of a word or phrase) and a pirate dictionary. The Word Nerd didn’t even know pirate dictionaries existed so is doubly excited by this thoughtful gift. Here is an entry from How to Speak Pirate by Geordie Telfer.

Dolly Shop: a shop ostensibly selling marine supplies, but in reality, a clearinghouse for stolen goods.

Double Negatives

Your high school English teacher probably told you that double negatives are always incorrect. Almost any native English speaker will be able to tell you that the following sentence isn’t correct.

I ain’t done nothing wrong.

The two negatives (ain’t and nothing) cancel each other out so the sentence means that the speaker has, in fact, done something wrong. (Let’s forget about the slang ain’t in this example!)

However, in some cases, a double negative can be used for good effect.

It is not at all unlikely that the political candidate will speak publicly about his drug use.

Does this mean that the politician will or will not speak about the drug use? Your guess is as good as the Word Nerd’s. This type of sentence construction is often used to insert ambiguity into the conversation. It is grammatically correct and can add considerable interest to your conversations.

This blog post is too good not to share. http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/so-not-an-expert/2010/07/isnt-spelling-important-anymore.html Enjoy!

Whadd’ya At?

Fresh back from a trip to Atlantic Canada, the Word Nerd offers you another Newfie expression! Whadd’ya at roughly translates as “what are you at?” and means “how are you?” It is a greeting that can confuse the uninitated. For more information on this expression, see the Great Big Sea song lyrics here: http://www.elyrics.net/read/g/great-big-sea-lyrics/what-are-you-at-lyrics.html

Sure B’y

The Word Nerd it heading to the Atlantic provinces (including a trip to St. John’s, Newfoundland) and wanted to leave readers with a Newfie expression.

Sure b’y — is a expression of disbelief. An example:

I plan on winning the lottery, quitting my job and travelling the world.

Sure b’y.

Newfoundland and Labrador are well known for folks with accents and sayings very different from the rest of Canada. The Word Nerd will try to learn some new expressions and idioms to share once she’s back from her trip.