By Patricia Donaher, Seth Katz
The notice ain't is utilized by audio system of all dialects and sociolects of English. still, language critics view ain't as marking audio system as "lazy" or "stupid"; and the proficient imagine ain't is on its deathbed, used purely in cliches. every person has an opinion approximately ain't. Even the grammar-checker in Microsoft notice flags each ain't with a purple underscore. yet why? over the last a hundred years, just a couple of articles and sections of books have reviewed the background of ain't or mentioned it in dialect contexts. this primary book-length assortment in particular devoted to this shibboleth presents a multifaceted research of ain't within the historical past and grammar of English; in English speech, writing, tv, comics and different media; and when it comes to the minds, attitudes, and utilization of audio system and writers of English from a variety of areas, ethnicities, social periods, and dialect groups. such a lot articles within the assortment are available for the common proficient speaker, whereas others are directed basically at experts in linguistic study-but with important causes and footnotes to make those articles extra approachable for the layperson. This number of articles on ain't therefore presents a large viewers with a wealthy figuring out and appreciation of the background and lifetime of this taboo observe.
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Extra resources for Ain’thology: the History and Life of a Taboo Word
Han't, however, never really took off in these 17th century plays; by late century, it appears only three times in Congreve's Love for Love (Act II, scene viii, p. 39; Act III, scene iv, p. 51; Act III, scene xv, p. 67). The same might be said for ain't, or during the 17th century, an't, where the sound and even morphological analogy appears to carry over from can't and han't. Before Congreve's Love for Love in 1695, ain't as a contraction of the AUXILIARY + NEGATIVE in any form is very difficult to find.
As Jespersen (1940) notes "hasn't [hæznt], isn't [iznt], doesn't [dznt], haven't [hævnt], aren't [a·nt], are simple enough" only once they "ousted, partially at least, older irregular forms" (Vol. V: p. 430). In the case of have, or even do, it appears odd not to find usage where "not" is merely shoved up against the verb to make one word, as in havenot or hasnot or donot or doesnot—except of course, that it looks darn odd to us. And yet, I still have students who ask if cannot is one word or two, perhaps because by reverse analogy to these other verbs, it ought to be two words.
6 The Case of the Swiftian Ain't For me, it is with some relief that an't is reliably traced to the vocal 18th century prescriptivist Jonathan Swift and his Journal to Stella, where he wrote, for example, on November 24, 1710, "Never fear, I an't vexed at this puppy business of the bishops, although I was a little at first" (Swift, 1901, Letter IX, p. 75). What is particularly startling about this usage, of course, is Swift's status among the 18th century language elitists. In his 1712 Proposal for the Correcting, Improving, and Ascertaining of the English Tongue, he specifically condemns the use of contractions and other abbreviations (pp.
Ain’thology: the History and Life of a Taboo Word by Patricia Donaher, Seth Katz