Before You Join the “Anyways” Herd

Before You Join the “Anyways” Herd

By Azuka Onwuka

Many people have asked me if “anyways” is correct. My answer always is: It has been added to the English dictionary, but I will never use “anyways,” not even in my dream. Why?

This is its entry in Oxford Dictionaries (online):

“anyways – North American dialect, informal, non-standard form of of ‘anyway. Example: You wouldn’t understand all them long words anyways.”

The first reason is that unlike “mo” and “bike,” which are shorter than “moment” and “bicycle” respectfully, “anyways” is longer than “anyway”; so why should I use “anyways” when I can use “anyway”?

Secondly, “anyways” is informal, while “anyway” is standard; so why should I use an informal word that has a standard and well-known format?

Furthermore, “Anyways,” as the example from Oxford Dictionaries above shows, is a non-standard American creation. There is an American movie with such a non-standard English title: Love Don’t Cost a Thing (instead of: Love Doesn’t Cost a Thing). I enjoyed the movie, but I will never say “love don’t cost a thing” unless as a joke. So why should I use “anyways”?

In addition, “anyways” sounds wrong to my ears: “any” is singular, meaning: “each.” It should not go with a plural word:  anybody, anyone, etc. Until “anybody” and “anyone” are changed to “anybodies” and “anypeople,” I will stick to my good old “anyway.”

Finally, many people who use “anyways” in Nigeria just want to belong:  to sound hip and funky, especially our American-wannabe radio/TV presenters. I already belong, so there is no need for me to try to belong.

There seems to be a competition among young radio and TV presenters to outdo one another in the use of “anyways.” Those who usually engage in this are those who want to sound cosmopolitan and exotic. In the social media, there are like-minded graduates who feel cool anytime they write a piece that contains “anyways.” In their minds, it makes them feel different and trendy.

“Anyways” is non-standard and dialectical. It originated from people who could not speak correct English in the United States. It is the same way those who could not speak Standard English in Nigeria and West Africa developed Pidgin English. Consequently, an English word like “witch” is corrupted as “winch” in Pidgin, while “mermaid” is turned to “mammywater”. You cannot use “winch” or “mammywater” in serious communication unless you put it in quotes or italics to pass a particular message. Imagine a radio presenter saying: “Some women were accused of beings winches and mammywaters by the villages!” Well, no Nigerian radio presenter will say that because Nigerian Pidgin is not seen as classy as North American English.

Embracing non-standard words like “anyways,” “laters,” etc, is driven by the same spirit that makes people take hard drugs because those they admire are doing so. Many chain-smokers and drunks also began that way. It is the me-too bug. Those who do so usually feel that their own style or way is not “cool” enough.

It is the same mentality that makes someone use “KK” for “OK” during a chat. Why shorten “OK” to “KK,” reducing two letters to two letters? What a way to shorten things! Why use “anyways,” which has seven letters, when you can use “anyway,” which has six letters?

“Anyway” was formed from two words “any” and “way”. “Any” is like “every” or “each”: they all point to one item – any girl, any country, any child. It can never be “any girls,” “any countries,” “any children.” In the same vein one cannot say “every girls” or “each girls”. Saying “anyways” is the same as saying “one ways” or “a ways.” It is an insult to Standard English.

If “anyways” could be acceptable, why should we not also accept “anybodies” (instead of “anybody”), “anypeople” (instead of “anyone”), “anyhows” (instead of “anyhow”), “anywheres” (instead of “anywhere”), or “anythings” (instead of “anything”)? In the same token, why should we not also accept “somehows” as an alternative to “somehow”?

Those who wish to stand out in their written or spoken communication resist the urge to follow the crowd, especially when the crowd is trying to foist the wrong or low-standard word or expression on them.

It is ridiculous that educated people would be glad to copy the language of uneducated people because they want to feel cool and hip. The only reason is because it originated from the United States of America. And to many people, whatever is from America is the gold standard. They believe that using “anyways” will make them sound exotic and well travelled to their audience. Far from it! Using “anyways” portrays the user as a person without class or panache.

It is the same way some people use “angst,” thinking that it means “anger,” because they heard it used by someone they admire. So they begin to use “angst” everywhere they should use “anger,” not knowing that “angst” means “a feeling of deep anxiety or fear” and was derived from the German word for “fear.”

Those who find it hard to speak or write Standard English should not set the standard in English for the educated to copy. English can borrow words from every part of the world, but the basic rules of English should not be destroyed in a bid to feel cool or hip.

Those who want their spoken and written English to be sweet and attractive do not use words because they heard others use them. In fact, once some correct words or expressions become widespread (like rejig, can-do, quagmire, mull over, etc), they avoid such words because clichés water down communication.

It is generally accepted that language is dynamic. Nobody can stop changes in language. I love reasonable and logical additions or adjustments in English. For example, I adopted “stadiums” as the plural of “stadium” over 20 years ago, even though many still stick to “stadia” – which is becoming obsolete – till this day, perhaps because they do not know that “stadiums” took over many years ago. Just as the case with ujamaa, hara-kiri, kimono, I look forward to seeing words like gbam, wahala, aristo, mugu, etc, in the English dictionary soon. However,  I do not like changes that make no sense, and “anyways” and “laters” are some of the changes that make no sense to me, because they emanated from the realm of wrong grammar and still bear the mark of incorrectness.

6 Comments

  1. Okeke Obinna December 15, 2017 Reply
    • Azuka Onwuka December 16, 2017 Reply
  2. kennethg December 19, 2017 Reply
    • Azuka Onwuka December 19, 2017 Reply
  3. Olukayode Balogun December 22, 2017 Reply
    • Azuka Onwuka December 23, 2017 Reply

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