Anyways

I started hearing this usage some years ago – probably three. It means ‘in any case’, but all and sundry are now legitimizing this usage….Of course, these things happen, it is, I guess, cool….but then…as Tina Blue says,

This is going to be short and simple.

Do not say or write "anyways"--not ever. The word is "anyway."

The form "anyways" is found in some dialects in the United States, but it is not standard English, and it should never be used in any situation where you want to be considered reasonably well educated.

That's all there is to it.

There are some who want to get to the bottom of this, if so read on….

As ugly and juvenile as it sounds to these ears, which had almost never heard the construction until, perhaps, a decade or two ago, anyways now seems to have taken hold as common usage among the current generation of youth and young adults, at least where I live (New England). My guess is that it is a "juvenilism," like, you know, retained into later years by today's subliterate culture. I'm curious to know whether it was ever a generally accepted regional form anywhere, or anywheres, and if my cringing impression--that it is effectively and universally replacing anyway--is correct. Any ways you might devise to answer this would be appreciated.

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. What is clear, though, is that nearly every citation is either from direct speech that is being quoted, or from Web sites that are not edited. Anyways is still not accepted in edited prose--and my word processor's spell checker will also not recognize it.

You may be hearing anyways more often simply because of modern media, especially television. When print was the primary medium of mass communication, dialectal differences tended to be edited out. Television and radio now broadcast unedited speech from people from all over the world, and so perhaps anyways is being picked up from there. However, it is being used exclusively in its logical position--as a conjunctive adverb--and not as a substitute for the determiner-plus-noun construction of your last sentence.

Anyways, often spelled any ways, is a dialectal variant of any wise, 'in any way/manner', and as such is recorded from the 16th century, in such august tomes as the 1611 King James Bible and the 1560 Book of Common Prayer: "All those who are any ways afflicted...in mind, body, or spirit." As an adverb, its formation from any way by the addition of the genitive -s is perfectly regular: we got always from alway in the same manner. This use of anyways, along with the use of any wise/anywise, is now obsolete.

However, the use of this genitive form instead of the more usual conjunctive adverb anyway still survived in certain dialectal uses, among them New England dialects. Opinions about the use vary; the fact that Noah Webster recorded anywise as "sometimes used adverbially" in 1828, but did not record anyways, may suggest that he disapproved of anyways, although it's also possible that he never heard it used or chose not to focus on the obscure dialectal variant. The 1914 edition of The Century Dictionary records both meanings of anyways, and calls them "colloquial in both senses." The first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary calls the conjunctive use "dialectal or illiterate" (the same harsh judgment you levied).

So we're left with the fact that the use has actually been around for quite a while (at least the late 19th century, and likely to be much earlier), and that it has never been considered standard. However, as a dialectal variant, it is not incorrect; it is simply a less frequent use. I have my own theory, completely unsubstantiated, that there's a Cockney connection lurking in there somewhere. If you've ever heard anyone with that accent, you'll know that anyways is pronounced like anywise. There just has to be a link between the British settlers of New England and the regional pronunciations of their mother country.

Comments

Kuttan said…
Come to think of it you are right, though I must say I have used it.
dharmabum said…
i have, quite honestly, felt uncomfortable with the usage myself - though i didn't know it was actually wrong.

sometimes i wonder though - if a language is supposed to evlve, or is it supposed to remain static? those that don't, in my mind, will eventually just die. so why make such a hue and cry about it - if it is generally accepted, so be it. then again, at times, i also feel the beauty of a language lies in some of its idiosyncracies...

very interesting blog u got here
Ajith said…
Interesting...I use extensively :) ..the SMS lingo is 'Neways'.. Btw, check some of the latest NITC snaps from my blog .
Maddy said…
Thanks guys,

I agree evolution in language is quite OK, so also colloquisim, but this one was picking up like crazy -i.e. the use of 'anyways'. frankly i am in no way against it, nor am I a great supporter of the Queen's english, just thought i will bring some awareness to the origin of the usage.

Look at Hinglish now, is fast becoming an in thing!!

Anyways, thanks Kuttan, Dharmabum and ajith!!!Drop in again...
Kuttan said…
anyways who knows one someday it will become so prevalant and the oxford will add it into their dictionary and we all can start using it without any fear.
Anonymous said…
Thank you Maddy for your unequivocal statement that "anyways" is always wrong. It is one of the most grating misuses around. I heard a Fox news reporter use it over this past weekend. I agree that, if you want to sound well educated, you need to use correct English. My grandson, who is 7, has been taught that "anyways" is incorrect and he is to use "anyway." However, some of his teachers use "anyways." He calls me quite often to report on his teachers and classmates who are using incorrect English. I get a real kick out of it and am encouraged that he will grow up speaking the English language correctly.
Jack Hii said…
While updating my blogs, I kept using "anyways" and it finally got to me that I just had to look it up and find out what the heck is the correct word and usage.

Thanks! I will stick to "anyway" from now on. I feel so much better now.
gauri said…
I read this post a couple days ago, but avoided a comment. Too hard to resist though, as this does happen to be another one of my personal peeves!:-D So thank you for bringing this up! :) I had read about the "any wise" factor a couple years go, but had completely forgotten about it. So thanks for the etymology as well!

Any wise reminds me of something interesting - did you know, 'pea'(yeah, the one we eat from the pod) was at one time wrong usage? There was no such singular noun as a pea; it was referred to as a collective noun 'pease' (like rice). But because it ends in an 's' sound, it was mistakenly taken to be the plural of "many peas", and hence some people again mistakenly called a single one a pea :)

Interesting, how language evolves :)

-g

PS: Why don't you like the Queen's English? I'm not a stickler for it, but I do (wrongly, I admit) think it's a cut above the rest :)
Maddy said…
Thanks Gauri - I do enjoy Queens English - though i comment now and then about the clipped accent or the stiff upper lip. I prefer it over any other English for that matter. You know - i lived over there for two years.

The 'peas' story was interesting, i was reminded of a friend who once told me that I should learn how to pick a pea on the back of a fork if I wanted to become an expert with English cutlery!