[DWJ] Shant

Minnow minnow at belfry.org.uk
Sun Apr 15 06:32:43 EDT 2007

Sallyo wrote

>Regarding shan't, sha'n't and shant... is it possible that it is MEANT (in
>this case) to be pronounced "SHANT"? After all, the parent word (shall) uses
>a short a.

Telling an English word how it is MEANT to be pronounced is a completely
lost cause.  Apart from all the dialects cocking a snook at you, Standard
Southern English or Received English looks you up and down, murmurs
"Cholmondley" very politely, and wanders away humming a little tune, arm in
arm (or fin in fin) with a ghoti.

>Compare "caint", used in dialect along with "ain't" (and what's THAT short
>for? "am not"? "are not"? amn't? (Didn't Heyer use that one?)

According to the 1933 S.O.D. "ain't" is a Cockney shortening for "are not"
and comes from "aren't" via "an't", so it's a dialect word and all bets are
off instantly.  (Without the apostrophe, "aren't" turns into "arent", which
is a watered-down form of the style of banishment "aroint" and is intended
for use against minor insect pests...)

Amn't turns up occasionally in books, but I'm the only person I know
sometimes says it.  Does this mean that I am not alone and you do it too?

>I'm always inclined to spell O-oh thus... as the more common oh oh or uh huh
>don't reflect the pronunciationg atall atall.

Depends who is saying which of them and what one means, though?  "Uh-oh"
when something is going a bit wrong would be how I'd say it, and "Uh-huh"
for mild agreement.


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