It’s Festivus! Come to the keyboard to complain.

By Joe Diorio

The New Year (yes, it is capitalized) marks time for the grammatical celebration of Festivus, where we gather around the keyboard and share our pet peeves.

Sometimes I wonder if there will be enough content for a good Festivus edition. Then the internet smiles upon me and “irregardless” trends on Twitter. Yep, nearly 3,000 tweets in a single day on Thursday, December 15.

“Irregardless is not a word. Just use regardless. Thank you for listening to my TED talk,” writes @RandomIgnorance.

“Irregardless, I hate it when someone writes “loose” but means “lose” says @PericaErica.

“As irregardless is trending, may I also take this opportunity to remind you that the correct phrase is COULDN’T care less. To say, ‘I could care less’ implies that you ACTUALLY F___ING CARE,” say@DDRey.

“Many people find irregardless to be a nonsensical word, as the ir- prefix usually functions to indicates negation; however, in this case it appears to function as an intensifier,” writes @JAMESEDSTROM

I have discussed this before, but once more (with feeling) … irregardless is a word. It has been a part of our language for over 200 years. Merriam-Webster defines irregardless as “nonstandard” meaning same as “regardless.” It also advises us to use “regardless” instead.

Now let me duck before you start throwing blunt objects around.

From the “Aw, you know what I mean” department

Item #1: Writing to a colleague at Northampton Community College in Pennsylvania, Jon Jay DeTemple, president of Harcum College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania (mea culpa, I used to work there) asks, “Could we get away from using the term “school?” [M]ost do say ‘college.’ For years we have fought the perception that we are just an extension of high school. Let’s upgrade and use the generic ‘college’ in our communications.”

DeTemple’s desire for us to view Harcum as an institution of higher education is a struggle community colleges and junior colleges sometimes face. The effort exists inside and outside the college. A coworker at Harcum once said to me, “What’s the difference between senior year in high school and first year of college? Two months.”

For anyone who is wondering, a college represents a field of study – a college of liberal arts, or engineering, or law, etc. whereas a university is a collection of colleges. Now you know.

Item #2: The phrase, “I’ll print that out for you” is my personal fingernails on a chalkboard. A “printout” is a noun, referring to something that just came out of a printer. If you are sending something to a printer, then you are simply printing it.

Item #3: Honoring Franco Harris. “What’s ESPN thinking?” wrote one reader in late December. “They said they are ‘honoring’ the death of Franco Harris! Are they happy he’s gone?”

The writer of that email is referring to the former running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League, who died suddenly at the age of 72. The ESPN utterance the writer took umbrage to was, “We honor the death of former Steeler Franco Harris.”

Use of the word “honor” as a verb in this case is probably something we all do. It means “regard with great respect.” If someone is being picky, like the person who wrote to me, then saying you “honor his death” means you are showing respect to the fact that someone has died, which is probably not what you mean. A more accurate sentence would by that you honor the career of the late Franco Harris.

Nothing will cheese you off like pluralization

Irregardless isn’t the only term lighting the internet on fire. As the University of Oklahoma and Florida State University prepared to square off in the Cheez-It Bowl on December 29, the company that makes the salty, cheesy snack shook the Twitter tree when it said the plural of Cheez-It is NOT Cheez-Its, but rather “Cheez-It crackers.”

Fans were, not surprisingly, cheesed off.

“Everyone who has ever stuffed their face with those sharp, four-cornered morsels has referred to them as Cheez-Its. Because they are Cheez-Its,” wrote one fan. “Hell, if someone called them ‘Cheez-It crackers’ you’d probably ask them to leave your house. Or at the very least wonder silently about what chain of events in their life sent them down such a troubling path.”

Other than Xerox successfully convincing people to stop referring to a photocopy as a “Xerox,” corporate efforts at managing language face an uphill battle.

Some good stuff to close

Big thumbs up to writers at some Fort Myers, Florida television stations.

First, the crew at the NBC affiliate on December 13 reported on a rat infestation at a local Walgreens (yes, I said rat infestation – don’t ask) and, playing off an advertising slogan the pharmacy uses, they wrote, “This is not the corner of happy and healthy.”

Second, the meteorologist at the CBS affiliate on December 28 nailed the use of “literally” (an overused and overhyped word) when he reported on Southwest Florida’s fair weather by Tweeting, “It’s literally perfect out!”

Third, the ABC affiliate on December 29 aired a story about a truck carrying pigs overturning on a highway near Las Vegas, saying, “It’s now swine city.”

Kudos, everyone.

Let’s write carefully out there, people.

Online or in person writing tutoring available. Dates are available for the first quarter. Contact me for details.

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