Category Archives: Grammar

Wordsmithing 101: Hubris

Welcome to Wordsmithing, where I’ll be learning words with you!

I’m fortunate enough to follow a lot of internet-type people who use intelligent vocabulary.  Sometimes I run across a word I’m unfamiliar with.  When I do, I’ll share it with you so that we can all get smarter together.  Sound good?

Today’s word is hubris. 

Hubris is defined as: excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance.

My first impression:  “Hubris. Isn’t that ground up chickpeas? No,wait, that’s hummus.”

I’ve seen “hubris” used in negative and positive ways.

“I had the hubris to get a giant ice cream cone.”

“You will laugh and laugh at my fatness and hubris.”

This word is awesome because:  It can be interchanged with both “confidence” and “arrogance.”   What some people call confidence, others call arrogance–but they can all agree that it’s hubris.

Likelihood of me actually using this word: 40%

I still can’t get rid of my initial association of hubris with hummus.  I can’t say “hubris” without giggling and wishing I had chickpeas and tortilla chips.

I’m pretty sure this post doesn’t have a topic.

I was going to post some long winded explanation of where I’ve been these past weeks, but then I realized that it really doesn’t matter where I’ve been because nobody has really missed me.

I’m not saying that to be self-pitying or anything.   I just don’t have enough of a following to be missed.  It’s all good guys.  Because  I’m totally okay with only having two followers.  And I will never really abandon you.  Promise.

I have been working on my New Year’s Resolution, though.  You know, the one about reading 25 new books?  It will probably go down in history as the only resolution I could ever keep.  I think I’m going to make this resolution every year, because it exposes me to so much stuff.  I’m serious, guys.  I’m reading authors I never knew existed and loving every second of it.  I may even pick up a horror novel this year and then take up insomnia as a hobby because I’ll be too afraid of my own shadow to ever sleep again.

See?  Best resolution ever.

Right now  I’m halfway through Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, an autobiography of sorts.  STOP.  STOP IT RIGHT NOW.   I know I said “autobiography.”  But that doesn’t mean you get to tune out.  Listen, I hate autobiographies.  With a passion.  But this one is different.

This one is written by the same wonderfully broken person who writes The Bloggess, a ridiculously popular blog.  Go ahead.  Click the link.  Sample her work.

Now tell me: Does she seem like a boring person to you?

While reading her book, I have laughed so hard I cried.  Twice.  And I’m only halfway though.

I’ve been telling everyone about the book.  Everyone.  Except for people who are sensitive about cursing (Jenny is a very colorful individual).  I don’t tell them anything because I’m afraid they’ll go out and read the book and then judge me for liking it so much.

This morning I was telling my co-worker/supervisor all about it, and I lost her at the dreaded b-word.  You know, that same word that made you tune out a few seconds ago.  I probably don’t even have your attention now.  But that’s fine, because it just means that you don’t deserve to read such an awesome book.

Anyway, I was telling her about the book and she completely lost focus.  She couldn’t understand why I was so excited about reading a biography.  She asked why she should care about someone else’s life.   I faltered, my smile fading.  In a small voice I said, “but, it’s funny.  She’s a satire writer.  She makes fun of her own life to make people smile.”

I got a blank stare in return.

And that’s when I realized.  My co-worker wasn’t in the club.  She couldn’t possibly understand why I was so excited about this, because she had never been a misfit.

Misfits are a special type of people who are slightly different from the rest of society.  We don’t fit in well, because we think outside of the box–and sometimes we like some really strange things, or have really bizarre life circumstances.  Jenny Lawson has given us an excuse to come together to form some sort of tribe–centered on her knack for getting in hilarious situations.

My favorite writers and storytellers are all people who, after having been lonely for years, find themselves suddenly surrounded by people who celebrate all the differences that distanced others.

The reason that I love their work so much is because it gives me so much hope that humanity can be made of awesomesauce.   It also gives me hope for myself. Hope that one day, I’ll get to do something I love while being surrounded by people who love me.

More Failure (of a blog-related kind)

I haven’t been blogging lately.

I teeter between feeling incredibly frustrated that what I write seems so insignificant and feeling angry that I haven’t fulfilled my “calling” in life by writing more.

I’m an English major.  My biggest talent, my one selling point, has been my writing skills.

I feel like I’m failing myself.  Like I’m failing you, my readers (all two of you).

I’m allowing life circumstances and my own emotional state (the “I don’t wanna” syndrome) prevent me from writing.  I’m choosing not to write.   I have commitment issues with my own blog.

Hell, I have commitment issues with the Internet itself.  I rarely stick around anywhere long–I tend to drift from social site to social site.  Facebook is the only exception to that rule.

So I sat here, in my office chair, wallowing in my feelings of failure and wondering how many other people felt the same way.

I can’t say I had some sort of life-changing epiphany.  But I’d bet my ass that there are a great deal of people in the world who aren’t entirely happy with who they are and what they’re doing.  I can’t promise I’ll stop beating myself up over what I’m doing or not doing.  But at least I know I’m not alone in this.

And for the record, I’m a damn good writer.  I just need to have more confidence about what I write, quit letting fear dictate my moves, and actually write down the stories in my head.

I Am Not the Grammar Police

I’m normally really chill about grammar.  It’s a tough thing to learn, and my grammar’s not perfect (I like comma splices.  A lot.  And sentence fragments.), but there are still some things that really bug me.  But there is one that bothers me above all others.

Irregardless

….guys, this one is just ridiculous.  If something is “regardless,” it is without regard, i.e., it doesn’t matter.  Here’s how I remember it: regard-less.  Less than regard.

If something is “irregardless” it is without less than regard.  Ir is a prefix that means “without” or “not.”  “Irregardless” does not mean “regardless,” and they are not interchangeable.  Does that mean “irregardless” has regard?  Can “ir” before “regardless” be constituted as a double negative that somehow makes “irregardless” mean that you care a whole, whole lot?

“Irregardless” is redundant.  And it frustrates me.  Can we stop using it? Please?  It’s wrong, and it makes me want to become the grammar police, and that’s not my job.

Regardless (see what I did there), I might just have to learn to deal with it.

But if you use “irregardless,” and you’re just an acquaintance, I won’t correct you.  I will silently judge you from my place atop my grammar high-horse.

Or, if you use it enough, I might throw an angry cat at your face.

Just kidding.  Maybe.

UPDATE:  I figured it out.

Why you guys like “irregardless” so much.  It’s because of “irrelevant.”  It’s got to be.   “Irrelevant” is a correct “ir” prefix attached to the root word “relevant.”  “Relevant” means “to be important, to matter.”   “Irrelevant” means “to be unimportant.”

The two words “relevant” and “regardless” sound sort of similar, I guess?  And since the “ir” rule works with one, I figure that language intuition (which is a thing that happens with native speakers–you get to a place where you can basically just feel your way around grammar and be mostly correct) says that you can use “ir” with regardless, too.

The problem with that is that you already have a suffix (“less”) with “regardless” that negates the root word “regard.”  So the “ir” is unnecessary.  But that apparently doesn’t always register.

“Irregardless” is still wrong, and I will probably still have to throw angry cats, but….at least I know why it’s so blatantly used?