Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Irregardless

So I've been ill and in bed. With nothing to do but moan and sniffle, I've been catching up on my TBR pile. Nothing spectacular, just Regencies. More research if you will. However, I found something in one of these books that almost made my head explode.

The word -- irregardless.

Now contrary to popular opinion, this is NOT a word. I know, I know, I used to use it. Until somebody told me not to. So I'm passing on this great advice -- Don't use this word, it doesn't exist.

Just for fun, I dragged myself out of bed and grabbed my 18 pound New Lexicon Webster's Dictionary of the English Language and looked up irregardless. It wasn't there. So I looked up regardless just to see if somehow they might have put it under regardless (I knew it wasn't there, I just wanted to cover all my bases. See, I'm still in research mode.)

regardless: 1 adj. (usually with of) paying no heed or attention
2 adv. (pop.) without consideration of the situation, consequences

And there on Page 53 of the book I was reading was this sentence.

Straining, grasping for something she did not understand but wanted irregardless.

(Let me also add, this was in a sex scene as well. Go figure.)

This book was published in 2006 (probably written in 2004) by Ivy Books, an imprint of Ballantine, which is owned by Random House. So yes, it was pubbed by one of the Big 6.

So, a writer writes the book. Presumably she shows it to either a crit partner or a few beta readers. She has an agent who reads the book. Which then gets passed to an editor who also reads the book. Then to a copy editor. And probably a few interns along the way. How in God's name can seven people read this book and not fix that word? The only reason I can come up with is that they skip reading the sex scenes as well and didn't see it.

Did nobody do a line edit? What does that tell you about the state of affairs in the publishing industry? I mean, I can see a few typo's, a misplaced comma or three, hey, I can even see the occasional misspelling of a word. But to see a word that is not even in the dictionary -- well, we're not in outer space where made-up words are the norm.

I feel bad for the author. I really do. To have such a glaring newbie mistake printed for all the world to see. REGARDLESS of who ended up with the book in the final editing stages, someone should have found this mistake.

Question -- How many times have you found a mistake like this? Or not found one, only to have your beta's or critter tell you? And, would you rather feel stupid now, or wait until you're published?

42 comments:

Christi Goddard said...

When I read Half Blood Prince, I made it only a few pages before I saw 'site' instead of 'sight' and my eyes almost fell out of my head. It's Harry Potter. I felt only the cream of the crop would have been editing that bad boy. How did they miss that one? It's been years, and I'm still scarred from that one.

Christine Danek said...

I would rather feel stupid now before I'm published. I would expect a book that is published (especially by one of the Big 6) to be almost flawless. Like you said, a comma, a misspelling, but a word that doesn't exist?
I have seen some mistakes in some published books and shake my head. I guess they were in the right place at the right time.
Hope you get better soon.

Tracy said...

There are some things I think the "general" public doesn't know or care about. As much as it may peeve us, I doubt most of the people who've read the book noticed or cared about the irregardless. It would still be embarrassing, but I'm more concerned with sentences where entire words are missing and no one caught it.

And who knows, maybe irregardless will eventually become a word. For years people argued against alright and ain't, now they're recognized as words. Even if not everyone agrees.

Ariel Swan said...

I am so glad you posted this! I tell my students about irregardless every year. My mother in law uses it all the time! I have kindly told her once or twice that it is a double negative - but feel it is rude to continue correcting her.

As far as mistakes in books - I find them all the time. Never irregardless though. And incidentally - I looked it up once too and it was in that dictionary - but listed as an incorrect usage.

Laura Pauling said...

Really? That's not a word? I don't know if I've ever used it so that's good. If the writing is good, I don't care about typos, because I have my share of them. It's hard to catch everything. Hope you feel better!

The Happy Whisk said...

Hope you feel better and enjoy your reading time. Mistakes are in books all the time, even in my own printed work, at the hand of the editor, in fact, but still, I didn't feel stupid. It's a little thing. Doesn't bother me. Feel better and healthy wishes your way.

Anne Gallagher said...

Christi -- I'll be forever scarred with irregardless.

Christine -- I know, especially from one of the Big 6! I'd much rather feel stupid now as well.

Tracy -- Very true. The reading public only wants to read. It's the writing public that's usually horrified.

Ariel -- Your poor M-I-L. I find mistakes too but never as crazy as this one.

Laura -- Nope, not a word. I don't care about typo's but non-words is a little garish. Thanks, I'm feeling like I have to go outside today and de-ice.

Anne Gallagher said...

Happy -- In this day and age, when you can't even get a query noticed because the agents are clamoring for perfection, it peeves me no end to find mistakes in books. If we're supposed to be perfect, then why arent' the publishers?

Theresa Milstein said...

I almost always see at least one mistake per book.

That word bugs me too. And I've known a few people to say "supposably" and "anyways" but haven't seen it creep into published books... yet.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

ooh yeah. It's like when people say they're "nauseous" instead of the correct "nauseated".
Then again, all those book people are only human and mistakes are made.

j.m. neeb said...

If you are typing in Word, "irregardless" gets the red-squiggly-line treatment. That probably should have been a major clue for the writer that something wasn't right in the first place...

Anne Gallagher said...

Theresa -- Can you imagine what books would look like if words like supposably got in there? Anarchy I tell you.

Sarah -- I see your point but really... irregardless of that fact, someone should have caught it. And thanks for the tip on nauseated. I knew it was one or the other but wasn't sure which.

j.m. -- Yes, you're absolutely right. I wonder why it wasn't caught there? Could she not be using Word? For shame.

Erin Kuhns said...

Hi Anne!

I sat down at 5 this morning (don't ask me why I was up; I really wanted/needed to go back to sleep, but these things don't always happen as planned) then I started reading my favourite blogs--which, of course, includes yours. But just as I began writing you a comment (on your last post), my rather large cat plopped down next to me, partially on the keyboard. I started to hold part of him out of the way and then realized it was a sign to go back to bed. So I put a book over my keyboard to keep him from accidentally typing anything weird on your blog, and went back to bed. And I'm happy to report I got an extra 3 1/2 hours of sleep!

Now, onto more important things: typos, etc. A friend of mine, Nadine Doolittle, had her first book (Iced Under) published by a little publishing company who never even read it!! You can tell, for it has typos throughout it, plus 2 on the back cover!!! Fortunately, the world is full of forgiving people and she was nominated for a local award at one point.

She has since found an agent and she's now got a deal to get this one republished (sans typos) AND she's got a second one coming out later this year! It definitely sucks to have typos in published work, but fortunately, it's not usually the end of the world, either.

Here's a piece about Nadine: http://www.capitalcrimewriters.com/members/memberprofiles/Nadine.html

Patti said...

Sorry you're feeling sick and I hope you feel better, although a day in bed reading sounds pretty good to me right now.

I've found mistakes in books, but they usually don't affect the story.

Linda G. said...

That one really stews me, too. And I seem to be finding more and more mistakes of that kind in the new books I'm reading. Carelessness? Publishers cutting costs by not hiring good copy editors? Who knows.

Lynn said...

The English Language is complicated. It's frustrating to see mistakes. But books still get published with them, obviously. I think of Cohen's Beautiful Losers which had no periods--one long sentence! Yet, was still considered grammatically correct, I guess.
I'd much rather feel 'stupid' with a critique partner rather than noticing the mistake after submitting.

Melissa Gill said...

That is just sad. Now I am a terrible speller, so I probably make gaffs all the time that have people laughing behind my back, but I try to be a stickler on word usage.

At least they haven't given in and added this word to the dictionary. I heard that the word conversate was going to be added to the dictionary, but so far at least it's not on dictionary.com.

Feel better!

Bossy Betty said...

I can get totally fixated on things like this in a book. I wonder about the editor and what he/she was thinking. Yikes!

Hope you feel better soon!

Em-Musing said...

Good one! I used to mix-up 'in spite of" with 'despite.' BIG difference. And arrghh! There's another one that for the life of me I can't think of now. When/if I do, I'll post it.

Terry Towery said...

That's one of my biggest pet peeves, and has been since I was fresh-faced young sports writer many years ago who used "irregardless" in speech and was screamed at by a crusty old newspaper editor for ten minutes.

I never made that mistake again. Ever.

Agree on the nauseous versus nauseated, too. Drives me crazy when people use the wrong one.

Em-Musing said...

Oh, oh, oh, OH! I remembered! The word is iterate. It means the same as Reiterate but iterate correctly describes what most people are referring to. But then go ahead and say iterate and just see how many people correct you.

VR Barkowski said...

There are a couple of nonstandard word usages that really make my teeth itch, probably because I used to use them myself, and they remind me I wasn't always as brilliant as I am today. Ha!

One is alot instead of a lot. The other is alright instead of all right - unless it's used in vernacular dialogue and then alright is, well, all right.

Feel better!!!!

Bish Denham said...

I was taught it was bad English and have never used it. However in my little collegiate Websters (copyright 1981) irregardless is listed as an adverb "probably a blend of irrespective and regardless." It says the same in my BIG Websters.

Anne Gallagher said...

Erin -- Wow! Poor Nadine. That's crazy so many books get published like that. And our manuscripts have to be perfect!

Patti -- Thanks. Wish I were still in bed. I just came in from shoveling 2 inches of ice on the driveway. Monster Baby is going to school come hell or high water tomorrow!

Linda -- Publishers cutting costs... has my vote. And it really is a shame. Not only does it make the author look stupid, it makes the company look stupid as well.

Lynn -- I'm terrified of that happening to me. Having something published with a big fat mistake.

Melissa -- Like j.m. said, Word has Spell-check. Wonder why nobody used it.

Betty -- I wonder if there was even an editor?

Em -- Iterate. Yes.

Terry -- I was told by a snooty girl at college. I never forgot either.

VR -- I never use alright and it drives my crit partner nuts.

Anne Gallagher said...

Bish -- Wow. Never thought that but it does sound like it could be the definition. But I still won't use it.

Anne R. Allen said...

I think I get more annoyed by things like this when I'm sick. I'm sick, too. And annoyed. (Snuffle, snort, snark.)

I have an award for you on my blog.

The Happy Whisk said...

Hi Anne: Sure, I understand where you're coming from :-)

roxy said...

I edit way too much as I read, and it takes a really good book to make me lose myself in the story. Hope you feel better, Anne.

Clarissa Draper said...

This word drives my husband nuts irregardless of what I think. ;)

I am more likely to forgive this mistake on a newbie writer with a small publisher or a self-published book... but, one of the six big publishers? Unacceptable.

CD

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

There's a lot of books by the big publishers that contain typos. They're reviewed by people and people aren't perfect.
And I'd rather my test readers made me feel stupid, thanks!

Dangerous With a Pen said...

Oh dear. That word bugs me. The fact that it's in a dictionary makes me want to bite things. :(

Shannon said...

Yeah, I've found a few. Luckily none have been "irregardless". I think I'd have to put the book down. I loathe use of that word. =p

The Words Crafter said...

Oh, please let me feel stupid now! And you know I'm going to have to go look in my Half Blood Prince book....

I laughed when you said it was in a sex scene. I remembered your post about those and it was just too funny. Apparently, no one reads those :)

Ted Cross said...

I see them quite often. The weirdest one I found was in one of Stephen King's Tower novels, where he described the direction of the ocean and later told us the direction the character was moving, only the ocean was on the wrong side. I even signed up for King's message boards to post about it, hoping the editors might fix the problem, but of course my post was ignored.

The word that has irritated me recently was 'flammable' versus 'inflammable'. It just doesn't seem right at all that these both mean the same thing! One should mean that something isn't flammable!

Shalet Jimmy said...

Oh my God...I should take extreme care about using words. I am not too fluent...

notesfromnadir said...

I find mistakes in e-books and in paperbacks and in hardcovers. It happens. I also figure that the percentage of people who spot 'em is probably low.

Emy Shin said...

"Irregardless" definitely isn't a word, but it does sound cool (to me, at least :)). And I'd much rather my betas point out all the things that're terrible about the story, including misused words, because at least now, I can learn from my mistakes and fix them. It'd be mortified if they were published.

Elaine AM Smith said...

I enjoyed this post - great fun!
Regardless - why would you need a negative of a negative? He can't be any less regardful! If Webster want to make the addition and include my word I'd be happy to let them ;)
I have looked up the Potter - my UK version is fine. Perhaps the mistake occurred during the Americanisation process ;)

Les Edgerton said...

Glad to see someone who still respects spelling! Standards have slipped noticeably. We've got two local papers, and one is always perfect as far as spelling, grammar, syntax and punctuation, but the other? Horrible. I have a standing bet with a friend that he can call me any day of the year and within five minutes I can find a mistake. He's called many times and I've always found one, usually within a minute.

What really grinds at me is the "bad" newspaper sponsor a thing called "Newspapers in Education" where they make it available for journalism and English classes...

Is it libel if I name 'em? Heck with it. The paper that's always sloppy in its editing is the Ft. Wayne Journal-Gazette and the one that's almost always perfect is the Ft. Wayne News-Sentinel. I don't think it's libel if it's the truth, and my wager stands...

Les Edgerton said...

Meant to say "sponsors" but it's a blog, right? And, I don't pay a copy editor...

Donna Hole said...

You sparked some interesting discussion Anne.

I hope you're feeling better now.

..........dhole

Alex Greenwood said...

Recently, a member of a local book club tore into me about a few typos I (and my editor) missed in my indie novel, "Pilate's Cross." Made me feel about 2 inches tall. While it's not the sort of thing I would bring up at a book club gathering with the author in attendance (seems a tad rude) it made a strong impression on me to be more careful about which editor handles my next book.