Gabrielle Colbert Prof. Emily Michael ENC 1143 11 March 2019 Annotations: Kory Stamper’s “Irregardless” Rhetorical Situation Author & Ethos: The author of “Irregardless: On Wrong Words” is Kory Stamper, a lexicographer, author, and former associate editor for Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Context (When, Where, and What Format): “Irregardless” is a chapter in Stamper’s book “Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries,” published in 2017 by Bloomsbury. Ongoing Conversation: “Irregardless” is a small part of a very diverse and extremely opinionated conversation: words, where they come from, and how one should use them. Audience: Stamper’s audience is general in an upscale sense (English writers, students, speakers), as this is Bloomsbury’s typical audience. She explains every term she uses with great detail and examples in a way she does not need to with fellow lexicographers.
Colbert 2 Thesis (Main Claim): Stamper argues that “irregardless” has grown popular through usage in speech and publications, and continues to be used even if it is (obviously) structurally incorrect. Quotes & Observations 1. In the beginning of “Irregardless,” Stamper states, ‘One of the tasks that every Merriam-Webster editor must do is answer editorial correspondence’ (52). She starts with this interesting fact because her audience may not know this. She uses the word “must” to inform them that this is not optional but, in fact, a mandatory task. 2. Stamper continues, ‘Since the 1860s, dictionary users have been encouraged to write to the company with questions about its books or the English language, and some long- suffering editor will respond’ (52). This is another interesting fact many in the audience may have been blissfully unaware of--if they have a question about a word, they can send the editor an email about it. Her choice of the word “long- suffering” reveals how mentally painful, or rather draining, answering these questions has become. The audience hears the missing “Oh, what fun.” 3. When first being informed that Merriam-Webster had entered “irregardless” into the dictionary, Stamper recalls, ‘I rolled
Colbert 3 my eyes: obviously “irregardless” isn’t a valid word, so it wouldn’t be entered into our dictionaries’ (53). This sentence builds humor within the writing; for the audience can hear her voice clearly. They hear the verbal irony as she puts italics on “obviously.” She wants the audience to picture her dramatic eye roll. Obviously.
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