By Patricia Donaher, Seth Katz
The be aware 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 knowledgeable think ain't is on its deathbed, used simply in cliches. all people has an opinion approximately ain't. Even the grammar-checker in Microsoft note flags each ain't with a pink 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 particularly devoted to this shibboleth presents a multifaceted research of ain't within the heritage and grammar of English; in English speech, writing, tv, comics and different media; and with regards to the minds, attitudes, and utilization of audio system and writers of English from various areas, ethnicities, social sessions, and dialect groups. such a lot articles within the assortment are available for the typical proficient speaker, whereas others are directed basically at experts in linguistic study-but with important motives and footnotes to make those articles extra approachable for the layperson. This choice of articles on ain't therefore offers a large viewers with a wealthy realizing and appreciation of the historical past and lifetime of this taboo be aware.
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Extra resources for Ain’thology: the History and Life of a Taboo Word
Johnson include a less common word, an't, but not include the common contractions can't, don't, or ain't alongside can, do, am, and are? Walter Skeat, in the second edition of his 1893 An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, includes the quaint word ait, "a contraction of ey-ot" for "small island" (p. 14), but doesn't bother with the word ain't. Almost a hundred years later, the 1989 online edition of The Oxford English Dictionary takes a minimal look at the word and tells us that ain't is used also for am not, is not, in the pop.
We continue relying on these overand under-extensions of language all our lives as we try to make sense of our environment via statements like, "so X is like Y" or "this is just like…" and so on. As adults, when we read, our reading goals typically focus on context and precise meaning. But we perhaps lack the skills to apply such an analysis to the dictionary as it is presented to us. Like the child who underextends meaning, when we look words up in the dictionary, we often 28 Chapter One exclude from our consideration definitions we can't line up within our personal matrix while accepting those that we can; and if we happen to look the word up as many children are required to in the classroom—in haste, perhaps resentfully or carelessly—we may go so far as to take the first dictionary definition that we understand, rather than looking further for one that applies more precisely, indeed if such a definition is available.
1833). A Dictionary of the English Language, abridged from The American Dictionary, for the use of primary schools and the counting house. ). New York, NY: N. and J. White. Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged. (1961). ). Springfield, MA: G. & C. Merriam Company. Willard, E. Payson. (1936, March). The origin of ain't. Word Study, 11, 23. 44 Chapter One Notes _______________________________________________ 1 See K. Aaron Smith's article in this volume for a fuller look at Jespersen's theories.
Ain’thology: the History and Life of a Taboo Word by Patricia Donaher, Seth Katz