What’s it regarding?

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[This entry originally appeared on Clare Lynch’s blog, goodcopybadcopy]

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.

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