The problem is that our educational system is so backways

28Apr05

The other day, my boss was having an argument with a friend over whether or not “irregardless” is a word, so he came to me to settle it. My opinion: It’s a word in the same way that “ain’t” is; you’ll get across your meaning by saying it, but you won’t come across as a genius. But today, I had someone (an older lady, for what it’s worth) tell me she was having an argument with someone about whether “sideways” was a legitimate word. She argued that it was only proper to say “sidewards” — after all, you say “forwards” and “backwards”, not “foreways” and “backways”.

Now that’s a stickler. I’m not saying that she’s wrong, but she might be the only one who’s right. Personally, I think “sideways” is a perfectly cromulent word.



One Response to “The problem is that our educational system is so backways”

  1. 1 Anonymous

    The suffix “ward” is an Old English word expressing direction, but once further meant the act of changing direction suddenly. In this context “forward” and “backward” actually mean “turntoward” and “turn back” (this is also where we get “awkward”, literally “turned in the wrong direction”).The need for words describing turning toward or away from something would be many; however, unless you’re the sort of person who crabwalks everywhere, the need for a word that expresses “turning to the side of” would be remote. Even if the opportunity arose, you’d still need to clarify to which side someone needed to turn. As luck would have it, “eastward” and “westward” fill this bill quite nicely.So really, “sideward” has no place in the English language, unlesswe’re in the habit of reverse engineering our lexicon. Only after”ward” had evolved from its connotation of “turning” to simply mean”in the direction of” would a “sideward” have been useful, and by then”way” meant that anyway. Tough beans, “ward.”I hope this clarification of an issue you clearly had no originalinterest in, some months after it would have been remotely useful, has been helpful.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: