Anyways, I am just curious.
February 9, 2007 8:11 AM   Subscribe

Why do some people say "anyways"? I notice Mayor Bloomberg always says it. He may be the mayor of NYC and a billionaire media mogul, but he sounds like he never opened a book in his life. I know he's from Boston, but I don't believe this is a regional thing.
posted by wfc123 to Education (32 answers total)
 
It seems that Random House's Word Mavens have something to say about it.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:24 AM on February 9, 2007


Probably a form of stuttering/nervousness in public speaking. Sounds a lot better than 'uhhhh' or 'ummm'.
posted by gomess at 8:25 AM on February 9, 2007


Discourse markers.
posted by oflinkey at 8:34 AM on February 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Things like this (in addition to poor spelling) really have no indication of a person's intelligence. Sorry it annoys you but the bottom line is that it's probably a habit. End of story.
posted by Brittanie at 8:39 AM on February 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Does he use it as a discourse marker or in places where "anyway" would work in the sentence (like "regardless" or a conjunction to get back to the topic after a tangent)?
posted by demiurge at 8:42 AM on February 9, 2007


People say ungrammatical things because speech patterns are formed over the course of a lifetime and if a conscious effort to change them is not made then they often remain.

I would caution you against making too many assumptions about a person's intelligence based on the way they speak. In the case of Bloomberg, for instance, the fact that he is a billionaire media mogul and the mayor of New York is a much better indicator of his intelligence and education than the fact that he says anyways.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:43 AM on February 9, 2007


I disagree that it sounds better than "ummmm".

If you say "anyways", you might as well chew gum while doing it. That's right up there with "youse guys."
posted by rokusan at 8:45 AM on February 9, 2007


It is not "ungrammatical," it is a form of the word anyway currently regarded (for the usual obscure set of reasons) as not standard. It is in the dictionary. And, as always when people are looking down on other people for their usage, I urge them to cure themselves of the habit, not only because it is bad for their psyche but because I double-damn guarantee you that if they give me access to a sufficiently large corpus of their speech and writing I will find words and phrases that they're using/pronouncing "wrong" themselves. The English language is big and messy, and we should give each other the benefit of the doubt rather than trying to play "gotcha."
posted by languagehat at 8:50 AM on February 9, 2007 [21 favorites]


From uncleozzy's second link:

It's not just youth who are using anyways; a quick search of the news from the last month turns up citations of everyone from a 7-year-old girl to Prime Minister Jean Chretien of Canada.

That's hardly fair -- Chretien could barely speak English!
posted by Robot Johnny at 8:55 AM on February 9, 2007


I meant to say "people say non-standard things" but a cold wash of rage took over my typing fingers, for reals.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:58 AM on February 9, 2007


I think Bloomberg fakes it to ingratiate his wealthy ass to the hoi polloi - just like Bush.
posted by nanojath at 9:03 AM on February 9, 2007


Oh, and there are no rules in spoken language.
posted by nanojath at 9:04 AM on February 9, 2007


Speech patterns are developed at such a young age. I hear myself talking sometimes and shudder when I hear my father in my words, even though I've had very, very little contact with him over the last 14 years.

It goes to show how hard it is to break such habits. Since Bloomberg is Mayor of NYC and a multimedia billionnaire, I'd say he doesn't have much motivation to make that effort.
posted by empyrean at 9:05 AM on February 9, 2007


For what it's worth, I often use "anyways". I had no clue it was incorrect until my sixth-grade teacher pointed it out to me, at which point I just shrugged it off and kept using it. And as a Ph.D. candidate, I've opened a book or three in my life.

(The spine goes on the left, right?)
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:19 AM on February 9, 2007


As a graduate student, I read lots of books. I say things like "anyways" to offset saying things like "When made by rich and politically powerful persons, such colloquial utterances lay claim to a shared American identity and subtly reinforce the notion of the 'American Dream' by deemphasizing the linguistic markers of privilege and suggesting that the upper strata of power and wealth is equally accessible to all." It keeps it real, man.
posted by carmen at 9:21 AM on February 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


Is this a serious question? Really?
posted by thehmsbeagle at 9:43 AM on February 9, 2007


languagehat: I will find words and phrases that they're using/pronouncing "wrong" themselves...

Furthering the evidence, our friend languagehat should have used "wrongly" or "incorrectly" to modify "using/pronouncing." This is not to throw him under the bus, but to show that the most intelligent discourses can misuse words.

We speak a language of colloquailisms...it's something over which we have to try not to get annoyed, otherwise all our communication will sound awkward, much like this sentence.
posted by sjuhawk31 at 9:54 AM on February 9, 2007


On preview, but left in to make a point: I have Firefox's spell checker enabled but still managed to misspell "colloquialisms."
posted by sjuhawk31 at 9:55 AM on February 9, 2007


Seth Bullock from the HBO series Deadwood says "anyways" a lot, and I think it's delightful. This might account for its proliferation into mainstream culture.
posted by smorange at 10:14 AM on February 9, 2007


I had never even heard anyone say "anyways" until I moved to the USA 5 years ago. Now I say it all the time. I like how it sounds (although I didn't start doing it on purpose).
posted by gaspode at 11:07 AM on February 9, 2007


It took me 25 years and an AskMetafilter thread to learn that "anyways" was wrong; that's what I've always said -- I also am from Bloomberg's neck of the woods. As far as I know, the usage hasn't prevented me from doing anything, but now I have to wonder: WHAT IF???
posted by one_bean at 11:56 AM on February 9, 2007


Seth Bullock from the HBO series Deadwood says "anyways" a lot, and I think it's delightful. This might account for its proliferation into mainstream culture.

I think it's way off the mark to attribute common use of "anyways" to anything as recent as Deadwood.
posted by cortex at 12:32 PM on February 9, 2007


I think Bloomberg fakes it to ingratiate his wealthy ass to the hoi polloi - just like Bush.

Nah. Bloomberg had a solid middle class upbringing. No blue blood, this guy.

Anyways seems like kind of a casualism. Bloomberg isn't all the folksy but I'll cut him a break on that one.

What I want to know is why people around NYC say eKcetera, rather than etc.
posted by psmealey at 1:36 PM on February 9, 2007


What I want to know is why people around NYC say eKcetera, rather than etc.

I think people all over the place do that. I've also seen it often abbreviated as "ect." I think that, in part, a lot of people just don't think of it as the latin string "et cetera"; it's simply the sound "etcetera/ekcetera" and the abbreviation "etc/ect", picked up as a way to say "and so on" by emulation without paying any attention to the source of the phrase.

It's also arguably more natural to say that way, but I've got no research to back that up. What's the commonality of "ek-seh" type compounds versus "et-seh" compoounds in English speech?
posted by cortex at 1:59 PM on February 9, 2007


I have always heard people say 'anyways.' Always. Not 'in the last five years,' not 'just recently,' but always. It seems to me that this usage is at least forty or fifty years old. And it's not anything to get upset about.

Let it be.
posted by koeselitz at 2:40 PM on February 9, 2007


Oh, and I grew up, and live now, in the west, in Colorado.
posted by koeselitz at 2:41 PM on February 9, 2007


Furthering the evidence, our friend languagehat should have used "wrongly" or "incorrectly" to modify "using/pronouncing." This is not to throw him under the bus, but to show that the most intelligent discourses can misuse words.

Nice try, but you'll have to work harder than that. There is nothing wrong, even by the most prescriptivist standards, with wrong in that sentence. A number of monosyllabic adjectives also serve as adverbs: Drive slow, Think fast, You're saying it wrong, You're doing it right. The idea that adverbs have to end in -ly is one of a seemingly infinite number of superstitions driven by the apparent craving to have exactly one "correct" way to say and do everything on this earth.

It seems to me that this usage is at least forty or fifty years old.

It's much older than that; Dickens uses it in Our Mutual Friend, Chapter 12 ("Anyways, I am glad..."). Furthermore, it is exactly the same construction as always, which nobody has a problem with. It is not "wrong," it is just, as I said earlier, currently regarded as not standard. When you look through earlier usage manuals and writerly gripes and discover that, for instance, Swift in 1710 said "I have done my utmost for some years past to stop the progress of mobb and banter, but have been plainly borne down by numbers and betrayed by those who promised to assist me" and in 1712 ranted about people who pronounce words like disturbed and rebuked as one syllable ("Where by leaving out a vowel to save a syllable, we form so jarring a sound and so difficult to utter that I have often wondered how it could ever obtain"), and consider how exactly the English language has suffered over the last few centuries by the presence of the words mob and banter and the fact that we say /disturbd/ rather than /disturbed/—and how you would react if someone told you you should eliminate those words and pronunciations from your usage because they're bad and wrong and incorrect—you may have a better perspective on this issue. And you might want to read Geoff Pullum on "grammar gotcha."
posted by languagehat at 3:02 PM on February 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


Furthermore, it is exactly the same construction as always, which nobody has a problem with.

One concludes, therefore, that the proper construction is "alway". Future generations, take note!

posted by cortex at 4:04 PM on February 9, 2007


Don't fuck with the 'hat on language.
posted by yclipse at 4:17 PM on February 9, 2007


It's a good word to bring an off-topic discussion back on track, like, "As I was saying"
posted by Quarter Pincher at 4:40 PM on February 9, 2007


>One concludes, therefore, that the proper construction is "alway". Future generations, take note!

Yes, I have a friend who says this. He tried to use 'alway' as a Scrabble word, just fooling around; protests ensued and a dictionary was consulted, wherein it was found, and to which he replied completely unconvincingly:

"Guys, I alway use that word!"
posted by baklavabaklava at 9:21 PM on February 9, 2007


Yeah, and why do those blasted French people always say chien when they mean dog? In fact, have you heard them? It's like they've got the wrong word for everything!
posted by eritain at 9:33 PM on April 17, 2007


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