John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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Happy Birthday, 3catsjackson!

For your present, here's Today's Forgotten English!

The phonetically natural and philologically logical shortening of am not, especially in a'n't I? ... Amn't is ugly; ain't is illiterate and, on other grounds, inferior to a'n't. Note that a'n't I offers only two different stresses of emphasis, whereas am I not affords three.
--Eric Partridge's Book of Usage and Abusage, 1954

Birthday of Eric Honeywood Partridge (1894-1979), New Zealand-born, Oxford-educated lexicographer. After serving in both world wars, he focused increasingly on slang and colloquial English, becoming one of the twentieth century's preeminent authorities on that subject. Despite his classical education, he maintained an undeniable attraction to the seamier side of the language. As he wrote in the preface to his Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (1956): "Should a lexicographer, if he includes any vulgarism, omit others? I have given them all. My rule in the matter of unpleasant terms as been do deal with them as briefly, as astringently, as aseptically as was consistent with clarity and adequacy. In a few instances I had to force myself to overcome an instinctive repugnance. For these I ask the indulgence of my readers."

Okay, folks, he's counting the number of possible emphasis points. This is nerding on a world-class level. 0.o

-The Gneech
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