Whether you are a writer or not, word choice is important. It has a direct impact on how people view you. This is especially true in first impressions. Some very intelligent people sound significantly less so because of their word choices and pronunciation.
I’m thinking of the Jeff Foxworthy brand of redneck comedy.
Friend 1: Djeat yet?
Friend 2: Naw. Djou?
Friend 1: Yanto?
Friend 2: Aight.
Those two people could well be highly intelligent, but we would never know it based on the way they pronounce — or not — their words.
I also know people who use “ideal” when they mean “idea.” I know they understand they are two different words with different meanings.
exactly right for a particular purpose, situation, or person
a thought, plan, or suggestion about what to do; an opinion or belief; something that you imagine or picture in your mind
The two are not interchangeable. I can also add “idear” to the list, but that isn’t a real word, so we’ll ignore it.
One that is also not a real word that I cannot ignore, though, is “irregardless.” Unfortunately, it is listed in the dictionary, but says it is “nonstandard” and it’s definition is the real word “regardless.”
I make a point to never say this word. A couple days ago, my mother was determined to make me say it. We were talking about word choices.
Mom: What is that word? Ir… Ir…
Me (through clenched teeth): “Irregardless.”
Mom (laughing): I made you say it! Now I can tell people that you said it!
Me: It doesn’t count.
Mom: Yes, it does.
There’s one more thing about word choice. This one makes me cringe, especially when used by people I know well.
I remember a time when it could be said that “Ain’t isn’t a word because it’s not in the dictionary.” That is no longer the case. It is in just about every dictionary I looked in. However, it is also noted that it is generally disapproved of but is habit and indicative of being uneducated.
That is why I cringe when I hear it used. The people who I hear say it are intelligent and educated.
I challenge you to think about your word choices and the way you say the words you do choose to use.
What words make you cringe? Why?