"me neither" (1882)--("Nor me neither" is a blend)
bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Tue Jan 11 04:58:25 UTC 2005
On Mon, 10 Jan 2005 19:51:48 -0500, sagehen <sagehen at WESTELCOM.COM> wrote:
>-Ben Zimmer writes:
>>1843 _Godey's Lady's Book_ 27 (Aug.) 53/2 "She shant teach me. She shant!"
>>"Nor me neither, I'd spit at her!"
>>This is in dialogue between children (who also use "ain't"), so it appears
>>that it was already understood as a non-standard usage.
>Had the disparagement of "ain't" begun that early? I thought it was more
>a twentieth century enterprise.
Depends on what you mean by "disparagement". Nineteenth-century
lexicographers, if they mentioned "ain't" (or the earlier spelling "an't")
at all, noted that it was non-standard. Webster's 1828 dictionary has:
ĀNT, in our vulgar dialect, as in the phrases, I _ānt,_ you
he _ānt_, we _ānt_, & c., is undoubtedly a contraction of the
Danish _er_, _ere_, the substantive verb, in the present tense of
the Indicative Mode, and _not_, I _er-not_, we _ere-not_, he
_er-not_, or of the Swedish _ar_, the same verb, Infinitive _vara_,
to be. These phrases are doubtless legitimate remains of the Gothic
In case that doesn't display properly for everyone, Webster gives the
spelling as <a> with a macron, apparently indicating a pronunciation of
And this disparaging definition can still be found in the OED:
contraction of _are n't_, _are not_; colloquially for _am not_; and
in illiterate or dialect speech for _is not_, _has not_ (_han't_).
A later and still more illiterate form is AINT, q.v.
The definition for "ain't" was updated for OED2, but this one looks like
it has remained unaltered from the original A-Ant fascicle of 1884.
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