In the Dec. 23 article “Yappa! Abbreviated Japanese ain’t all that bad,” the writer dismisses the word “ain’t” as improper English. I felt that the treatment of the word was quite cursory.
If you take the time to research the etymology of the word, you will find a very interesting and controversial history. According to “The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language” (Fourth Edition), “ain’t” first appeared in 1778, evolving from “an’t,” which had arisen almost a century earlier as a contraction of “are not” and “am not.” “Ain’t” received a barrage of criticism in the 19th century for having no set sequence of words from which it could be contracted and for being a vulgarism — a term used by the lower classes. “An’t,” at least, was commonly used by the educated and noneducated alike in the 1700s.
Also, we have several words made into contractions, but we do not have a standard way of expressing “am not” as a contraction. I urge the writer of the article and students to dig deeper into their understanding of the English language.
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