The Case for “Ain’t”

The word “ain’t” has all but been eliminated from the English language. Why? Not because of legions of English teachers and grammarians who demonized the word, but because of myriad TV producers who banned it from television. However, looked at dispassionately and rationally, “ain’t” is a useful word, the banning of which has left a gap in the English language which no one has noticed but me, so I gather. It goes to show that people will take whatever arbitrary conventions are dispensed from above as Gospel, never questioning their arbitrariness or the fact that they are merely conventions. Let’s conjugate the negative of the verb “to be.”

        I am not
        You are not
        He, she or it is not
        We are not
        You (plural) are not
        They are not

Now let’s do the same thing (Hey, conjugation is fun) with the contraction of the verb “to be” and “not.”

        I am not
        You aren’t
        He, she or it isn’t
        We aren’t
        You (plural) aren’t
        They aren’t

There you see there IS no contraction for “am not,” thanks to the aforementioned legions of English teachers and grammarians who have eliminated a perfectly good word with a perfectly reasonable function from the English language for totally arbitrary reasons. “I ain’t” is the natural contraction for the verb “to be” in the first person singular. Ta Da. Every other person singular and plural has a contraction of “to be” and “not.” Why not the first person singular? It just doesn’t make any sense Of course, ain’t could be used ungrammatically such as the vulgar “He ain’t,” “They ain’t,” “You ain’t” etc., but used correctly, it serves a very useful function. Apologists for English teachers will say that, since there were so many people using “ain’t” incorrectly, it had to be eliminated altogether and not having a contraction for “am” and “not” is a small price to pay for getting rid of a plethora of vulgar English and blah, blah, blaf. I say Phooey; this never stopped English teachers before. They would drill correct grammar into their students’ heads no matter how much of an arbitrary convention it represented. Well, enough said, but, by the way, did you know that spelling is totally arbitrary as well. The guy who wrote the first dictionary, Samuel Johnson, in 1776, just decided arbitrarily how words were to be spelled and everybody has had to kow-tow to the dictionary ever since. “Night,” for instance, could just as well have been spelled “nite.” But this is another subject altogether, and I don’t have time to go into it right (rite) now. I ain’t gonna bite off more than I can chew.

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