What’s it regarding?

I thought it was just me. Every time I heard the word ‘regarding’ I cringed inside. It just sounded so affected. What was so wrong with the simple, Anglo-Saxon ‘about’?

It also made me think of snooty secretaries screening their bosses with the kind of fierce loyalty one usually associates with a tigress defending her cubs. “What’s it regarding?” you’d be asked – before being coolly told that he was tied up all day and would call you tomorrow if you were important enough.

But every other letter was a letter ‘regarding’ something. And every other poster advertising a helpline invited readers to ‘call if you have any questions regarding X, Y or Z’.

So I’d learned to bite my tongue and hide the fact that hearing the word ‘regarding’ had the same affect on me as a metal fork scraped across the bottom of a metal pan: it set my teeth on edge.

But browsing through the Penguin Guide to Plain English today I found these precious words from its author, Harry Blamires:

It would be good advice to any writer to say, “If you are thinking of using the word ‘regarding’, don’t”.

Thank you, Harry Blamires. You’ve made a very happy woman of me – and I now feel free to spread the word.

The word ‘about’ that is.

6 comments so far . . . come and pitch in!

  1. Belinda says:

    I love this – thank you, thank you! Keep up the good work!
    Warmest (regards)

  2. clare says:

    Why thank you, Ms. Doublescoop. Even we childfree can appreciate that you have a way with words too!

    Let me know when your next newsletter’s out and I shall urge all my maternal friends to visit.


  3. Evangelia says:

    I would like to send this blog regarding your discussion on the word regarding. I find that this is quite a versatile word.

    And furthermore, regarding your thoughts on the subject; I would bet that many of you have used it in an application to a job or such at some time as it is the most appropriate word to use.

    Many words in the dictionary today are used in a ‘modern’ context, and it takes a little pain to let go of what a word used to mean and to allow what it means today.

    Kind Regards, Evangelia

  4. clare says:

    Thanks for your comments Evangelia!

  5. Linda says:

    Hello Clare,
    I’m visiting you after reading about you at Nick’s Writing Blog. I shall most certainly be back.
    Anyone who links to The Apostrophe Protection Society is esteemed in my book! I embarrassed myself a few years back now by thinking they were a charity, and offering a donation!
    Best wishes, I’ll add you to my blogroll and hope you can drop by to check out my blog too. I’d be particularly interested in your response to my “Journalist, writer, reporter or hack?” question.

  6. clare says:

    Thanks for swinging by – I’ll definitely check out http://www.freelancewritingtips.com. And as for The Apostrophe Protection Society, could there be any worthier cause? Perhaps we should go on a hike in the Himalayas to raise money for this endagered species?

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