"Acks" (or "axe") for "ask"

ref rfontana at MAIL.WESLEYAN.EDU
Mon May 7 22:24:07 UTC 2001

On Mon, 7 May 2001 Ramcreed at AOL.COM wrote:

> My name is Richard Creed, and I am a columnist for the Winston-Salem (NC)
> Journal. I frequently write about words and language. I am trying to trace
> the oral use of "ax" (or "ax") for "ask." I, like many other people, had
> assumed that it was peculiar to African-Americans, but I have now learned
> better. A friend has called my attention to a CD put out by The Irish Tenors.
> In a couple of songs, they used "axed" for "asked," and a little songbook
> accompanying the album has it spelled that way. If anyone can supply any
> information about the origin and/or the regions in which this usage is known,
> I would be most grateful.

I think a good dictionary will show you that the two forms go all the way
back to Old English; I'm not sure why one became standard and the other
didn't, but I think "ax" remains valid in many English dialects, not just
African-American ones.

"Ax" and "axk" for "ask" were commonly heard among all ethnic groups
(excluding the upper and upper-middle classes) when I was growing up in
New York City in the 1970s (though I suppose it might have mainly been
among children).

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