Wednesday, March 16, 2011

'Ain’t' ain’t a word

Where I grew up in the sticks of Pennsyltucky, y’uns and you’s were part of everyday speech.  There we had distinct mountain twang and a different way of speaking. 

No, we weren't intentionally botching the English language.   Believe it or not, there is a specific dialect known as Appalachian English  This is a vernacular that is spoken most commonly in the Central and Southern Appalachian Mountain region of the Eastern United States.  Blue Knob, where I come from, is smack dab in that region.

The roots of Appalachian English have been lost to time; theories abound from it being a form of Elizabethan English or Scotts-Irish or Anglo-Scotts.  Lots of folks think the manner of speech sounds ignorant or uneducated.  It’s interesting to note that there are aspects of the dialect have elements of pure English that have been lost in our modern language.  It’s thought that the relative isolation of the region accounts for its distinct pronunciations, cadence and accent.

It’s difficult to explain because there are so many divergences and nuances.  Wikipedia has an excellent explanation and good examples of the vernacular.

I’ve long since lost since lost my twang and been Yankee-fied  . . . I even say ‘ayuh’ . . . but every once in a while I’ll unknowingly revert and say something that gets me quizzical looks. 

Test your mountain vocabular

1. branch                  A. hen's egg
2. hippoes                 B. light covering of snow
3. skiff                      C. afraid
4. knee deep             D. large biscuit
5. afeared                 E. ground hog (from the sound it makes)
6. you'uns                 F. an imaginary or pretended ailment" (from hypochondria)
7. cackleberry           G. windy, cool
8. cat's head             H. you (plural)
9. airish                    I. bull frog (from the sound it makes)
10. whistle pig           J. creek

Answers: 1J, 2F, 3B, 4I, 5C, 6H, 7A, 8D, 9G, 10E


The use of the word ain't (or hain’t) is a prime example of the Appalachian English dialect

I ain’t gonna use ‘ain’t’ anymore, ’cuz ‘ain’t’ ain’t in the dictionary.  Ain’t it the truth, ain’t it the truth?!  No, it ain’t.  ‘Ain't’ ain't a word?  Well, it is listed in the dictionary but so are ‘ginormous’, ‘bromance’ and ‘truthiness’ . . . just sayin’.

Anyhoo . . . is ‘ain’t’ a word or not?  It is, and it isn’t.  Yeah, I know, that doesn't really clear anything up. It’s not considered grammatically correct but it is linguistically correct.  ‘Ain’t’ is a contraction of 'am not'.  That being said, even though it’s in the dictionary and all that garboil, if you speak it you risk sounding unedumacated.  'Ain't' ain’t considered proper English.

“Ain’t” is a contraction of “am not”.  It is a vernacular derivation of a'n't from either amn't or amn't.  Try saying amn’t out loud a couple times. It doesn't quite roll off the tongue, does it?  

 So, if ‘ain’t’ is a short form of am not that would make it first person singular, right?   You’d think so but it ain’t . . . let’s conjugate it:
I ain’t . . . You ain’t . . . He ain’t . . . She ain’t . . . It ain’t . . . We ain’t . . . You ain’t . . . They ain’t

Wowzers, what an adaptable word . . .  ain’t it a shame it ain’t acceptable to use polite conversation?


It Ain’t Easy Being Green Smoothie

8 Ounces Water (more or less depending on how thick you want the smoothie)
1 Banana
4 Strawberries
1/2 Cup Packed Spinach Leaves (use fresh not frozen)
3 Stalks Celery
1 Scoop Vanilla Protein Powder (flax seed can be substituted)
1 Tsp Cinnamon

Add the water, cinnamon and protein powder to the blender.

Add banana, strawberries, celery and spinach to the blender. 

Blend it up and drink! 

I used bagged spinach just because it saves time.  If you’re using bunch spinach, make sure you wash it thoroughly to remove any grit and sand.

I use the whole celery stalk, including the greens.  This adds a slightly bitter flavor but more nutritional value.  If you want a milder celery flavor, don’t use the greens.

I put mine into a plastic bottle to bring to work with me.  It’s surprisingly tasty and not too sweet.  The cinnamon brings out the sweetness of the fruit without adding any extra calories.  It’s actually quite filling and makes a low calorie, vitamin packed, fiber filled breakfast or light lunch.  It will leave you feeling light and energetic.

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