Always learning

Posted by on June 28, 2013 in education | 6 comments

Last night I learned that ‘anyways‘ isn’t a thing that should be said:

Then we have “anyways,” a colloquial corruption of “anyway.” It’s universally considered nonstandard and should be avoided altogether. It might help to remember that “anyway” is an adverb, and adverbs can’t be plural.

I tend to use that word rather a lot and am disappointed to learn that it isn’t considered good English. Two years ago I didn’t know what the oxford comma was. Now I do, and my life is better for it.

When I was a kid my siblings and I used to tell one another to ‘keep your cotton-picking fingers off’ of our stuff. I was in high school when I realized the racist origin of that phrasing, and I haven’t used it since. Racial slurs were a common thing in my childhood home. I could list them all, but there’s not much point. At this point my family knows better than to say such things around me, though I have no doubt they continue to use racist language when I’m not around.

Here’s the thing. I know I was raised in a racist environment. I know that I have a lot of internalized prejudice. I know that there are likely to be lots of things in my speech and behavior that are, at the very least, not ideal. I know that it is my job to make myself better. I also know that I should expect to be coddled because of my upbringing- whatever misfortunes might come to me because of my racist behavior are fully justified.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Paula Deen and some of her racist behavior. There were times when I genuinely did not know any better, and perhaps- perhaps- she genuinely didn’t know any better either. It seems to me that the true measure of her character will be what she does with her new knowledge. I hope she doesn’t feel that she’s too old to learn anything new.

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6 Comments

  1. One racist term that I did not know was wrong when I was young is “gypped.” It can be hard to change language when it is really deeply ingrained. I feel like I say that then am always correcting myself, I wish I would have a default not to say it in the first place.

  2. “When we know better; we do better”
    That’s been my motto and I hope that each time I learn of my errors, I do better.

    • Amen, Suzette.

  3. Always nice to see someone disparage their own family.

  4. Re: anyways… while style manuals often do decry its usage, it’s in no way an incorrect corruption, nor is the -s ending a plural marker. In this case, the optional -s ending is an adverbial marker and can also be found in the parallel adverbs ‘alway/always’. ‘Anyway’ and ‘anyways’ have cohabitated alongside each other in English for at least 500 years. Check out a good dictionary with etymological content for more info, it’s fascinating!

    The more you know!

  5. Well said. There, but for the grace of God, go many of us.

    Since I don’t know the whole story about Paula Dean and since the original court procedings (wherein she admits to using racial slurs in a past life) are apparently about a hostile work environment created by herself and her family, I’m thinking there are two issues: Paula, the woman and, Paula, the multimillionaire-business-owner. I’m less sympathetic toward the businesswoman. But, again, I don’t know the details of case. But I like this post.

    P.S. I’ve never used the word “anyways” just so ya know.

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