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An argument over grammar and semantics – When it really matters

One of my pet peeves is bad grammar. In particular, I hate the use of the term “irregardless”, and I hate even more that this word is now accepted by spell checking mechanisms as a real word. It’s not a fucking word. Regarded and regardless are words. Saying irregardless is a combination of irrespective and regardless, and it is a double negative. When people say the word irregardless, what they are really saying is regarded or regarding, and it’s about as stupid as saying “I ain’t no dummy”. When people say the word I literally want to punch them square in the mouth from whence it came.

My fear is that irregardless will culturally evolve much in the same way that inflammable has. The word inflammable actually means flammable or able to become inflamed, look it up. The sad thing is that many people believe it means non-flammable. At least the dictionary has it right on this word. The same can’t be said for irregardless in some dictionaries.

Anyway, this kind of thing really peeves me. Most people say it doesn’t matter because you can still understand the meaning behind the words due to general acceptance and the context of their statement. Some days ago I was walking through my local Safeway supermarket and my eyes caught sight of this sign:


The sign clearly states in plain English that the items in the cart are half off the marked price (50% off). However, I knew that the retard who wrote the sign meant to say that the items in the cart were already half off and the items were “priced as marked”. This sign has several grammatical errors which add up to a big difference in price at the register. I have no idea what the hell the second line is all about. Perhaps they mean to say that your club card is required only for books in the clearance cart.

It turns out I wanted a couple items from the cart, so I tossed them into my basket and headed toward the checkout line. As I rounded the corner I saw one line being worked by an older gentleman who happened to be a manager filling in for a checker. At that moment, I decided to make an ill-advised point. I ran back to the cart and took a picture of the sign with my camera phone. I ran back, got in line, and waited for my chance.

Finally I was watching as one by one my items made their way from belt to scanner to cart. Then it happened, the thermometer I picked out of the cheap bin hit the scanner. The price flashed up on the screen just as the price tag stated; $2.00. Luckily, this Safeway is a 24 hour place of business, and I like to shop late so there was nobody behind me. I called a halt to the procession of groceries over the scanner and commented that the thermometer was priced at $1.00 due to the fact it was in the clearance bin and the sign clearly stated it was 50% off the marked price. The manager looked at me blankly and said “this is priced as marked”, to which I responded by pulling out my blackberry with the image of the sign still sitting on the screen. Just as you might expect, this did nothing to persuade the manager from his stance that the item was priced as marked. After some minor protesting and further grumbling about the state of education in our country, I paid the $2.00 for the thermometer and was on my way.

I know we’re only dealing with paltry items in a supermarket clearance cart here, but the fact is the kids growing up today will be writing the business and real estate contracts of tomorrow. Canadian company Rogers Telecommunications found this out the hard way.

What’s more disturbing is the fact that two days later, I decided to test one of the younger Safeway clerks with a simple test concerning the stuff she dealt with every day… money. I held up a $10 bill, covering the name, and asked who that guy was. She looked for a moment and said “Benjamin Franklin”? I countered with “No, his name is Alex… Alex who?”… this got another blank stare and a shrug. Finally I just said it “Alexander Hamilton”. That wasn’t so bad, not a lot of people know who’s on the $10 bill anyway, even with a hint. So, I lowered the bar considerably and held up a penny and asked “Who’s this?”. Again, a blank stare, a pause, and again the answer of “Benjamin Franklin?” comes out of her mouth. This time I was actually stunned. For Christ’s sake there’s even a Wendy’s commercial on TV all about 99 Lincolns and $0.99 burgers. I figured she’d at least have a current reference. Alas, this time I was the one with the blank stare. All I could say was “Are you the one who wrote the sign on the clearance cart over there?”

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