Have you ever heard any of these statements?
- “Ain’t isn’t a real word.”
- “Irregardless isn’t a real word.”
- “Snuck isn’t a real word.”
The problem with statements like these is that they’re wrong.
You see, my approach to English language is that English is in flux, always evolving. For centuries, words that once meant one thing eventually end up meaning something else, sometimes even taking on the opposite meaning. As well, new words have popped up and old words have dropped off.
Some take a more restrictive stance to the English language, adhering to strict and pedantic grammar rules, which also happen to often be arbitrary, and sometimes nothing more than myths. They are the last to adopt trendy words, and they are the last to let dying words go.
The idea that popular words aren’t actual words is, frankly, preposterous. Of course, they’re real words. If they weren’t real words, no one would use them. An actual fake word would be something like “hoddlemunking”, completely fabricated and absent from any written works.
If people are speaking them, then they are words. If they appear in a dictionary, then enough people use them to make them common. And by that point, it’s futile to resist their integration into the English language.
As for those three words at the start of the article, consider that “irregardless” has been around since at least 1877, “ain’t” since at least the 17th century, and “snuck” since at least 1890. You’re free to oppose them, but that’s a stylistic choice, not a moral one.
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