Posted by John W on May 20, 1998 at 00:01:18:
In response to Origins of "ain't" ??, written by JennieC on May 19, 1998 at 18:00:02
The orignal contraction of 'are not (they)' was 'an't' and dates from about 1710. By 1778 this had become a'int and and ceased to be plural. It formed part of a hyperlect, like dropping the initial 'h', and by a not uncommon process the hyperlect has many common features with the basolect. Imitated hyperlect in the 19'century added a false initial 'h'--producing 'h'aint'.
This was the process in England, but I dont know how similar the US process was. Certainly British English provided the hyperlect pronunciation ion the East Coast until well into this century. The Southern situation is complicated by the replacement of the original English-descended upper echelon by a new group of lower-class Scotch-Irish in the late 18th century, who imitated the original patrician class and may well have adopted their speech-patterns.`
- 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)
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