Monthly Archives: August 2015

One Word I Cannot Stand To Hear

I love the English language. And I’m fairly certain that I can say the same for anyone who loves to write as much as I do. There’s just something about the ability of being able to string words together to form sentences and putting sentences together to form paragraphs and then to arrange those very same paragraphs so that they form a story that has always thrilled me.

I can still remember the sense of wonder and excitement I felt when I first began to learn how to read. It seemed almost magical to me – that the books I read had the ability to transport me into other people’s lives, different lands and adventures beyond my imagination. It was as though I had unlocked a door to a whole new world and once I stepped through that door, I never wanted to leave.

Because of my love for reading, I must admit that I was a good student, especially when it came to the subject of English. I enjoyed learning about nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns, predicates, adverbs, etc. I think I have a fairly good command of the correct usage of the language, although I must admit that sometimes I do get hung up on our friend the “comma” and I do tend to use more commas than I should!

I also must tell you that when our children were growing up, I did correct them on their proper use of the English language. And I am proud to say that today they are very well-spoken young adults.

So, what word would I permanently ban from general usage? Well, let me say that there is one word that you would have never heard spoken in our household. As a matter of fact, I even hesitate to type it, but I will, for the sake of this writing, and that is the word “ain’t”. How I abhor that word. As a matter of fact, every time I hear someone utter that word, it makes my toes cringe. I’ve even heard people say things like “I ain’t got no time to do that.” And I think, “There’s that awful word – and a double negative with it! My poor ears!”

This word is supposedly a contraction for “am not,” “are not,” or “is not,” but its usage is generally considered non-standard by dictionaries and style guides except when used for rhetorical effect, and it is rarely found in formal written works. There’s a reason for a that. Because it is non-standard. There is absolutely no reason to use this word. We have words like “aren’t” and “isn’t” instead. We don’t need to use the word “ain’t.”

Now I realize that there have been some exceptions throughout history that have used this word quite successfully. There have been famous recordings such as “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” and “Ain’t That a Shame,” but these are examples of song lyrics, not everyday language. This word has also been used in both speech and writing to catch attention and to give emphasis, as in “Ain’t that a crying shame,” or “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

But the above examples are exceptions to the rule, not the norm.

Now let’s get back to that last phrase: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In this case – why don’t we fix it? Let’s just eliminate this one word from the English language. It’s such a lovely language. Why don’t we keep it that way?

 

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