Origins of "ain't" ??
Posted by JennieC on May 19, 1998 at 18:00:02:
This little tidbit of the English language has had me puzzled for years. Through our elementary years, teachers told us not to say "ain't." Children teased each other with the oft-repeated, "Don't say 'ain't,' 'cause 'ain't' ain't a word, and 'ain't' ain't in the dictionary. "Ain't" is also an overused dialogue cliche' in films or books set in the American South.
However, I keep seeing "ain't" or some variation of it ("en't," "an't") used by high-born, well-bred characters in some of our favorite novels, including JA's and Charlotte Bronte's. (Same thing with "et" instead of "ate.")
So, was "ain't" originally a colloquiallism and/or the result of a certain regional accent? How did it fall into disfavor? Should we Southerners be proud of our "ain't"s?
I eagerly await all replies,
- By the way, I have a web-page on "ain't" in Austen... The Mysterious H.C. 20:31:28 5/20/98 (0)
- Ain't John W 00:01:18 5/20/98 (10)
- Wot? Caroline 11:18:00 5/20/98 (9)
- "The Mother Tongue" by Bryson ?? Woodhouse 09:02:48 5/21/98 (5)
- sources John W 16:00:56 5/20/98 (2)
- Ain't it huntin' shooting' and fishin'? Linden 21:25:14 5/19/98 (0)
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