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Meara69 Meara69 18-21, F 38 Answers Jan 22, 2013 in Education

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The substitution of /aks/ for /ask/ is a case of metathesis that became a (dominant) variant form in some dialects. It has been documented at least as far back as in Chaucer. ("I axe.... " (i forget)). It is not just found in African American Vernacular English but also in southern and midland English dialects.

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I grew up in the South, and realized in a History of the English Language course in college that English in general, as well as each of its many different dialects, are not static and never have been. They are continually evolving and remain fluid now. While I find the substitution of "axe" for "ask" to be kind of humorous, and sometimes use it myself purely to be funny, I've never specifically associated it with the Black dialect - - that really just depends on who you're talking to. I remember Ray Romano getting grilled over saying it by his wife on "Everybody Loves Raymond," so maybe it's an Italian North Jersey thing, too.<br />
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I've also known people who for some reason couldn't say "shrimp," and insisted on calling them "srimp." All I can think is not enough Germanic genes in there to be able to make the sound "shr". And of course people in Boston CONT say da lettah "AAAAR," unless it comes at the end of word that doesn't have it, as in "I'll have to axe my friend Lind-er."<br />
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One thing that is very interesting to me about the Black dialect, as well as the Southern dialect in general, is the combination of Middle English, French, African, Carib and American Indian influences that resulted in it. And certainly, one of the major things that formed the Black dialect is that African slaves learned a very old form of English in North America in the 1600's, 1700's, and 1800's, and were subsequently isolated from the majority society by slavery and racism, and of course isolation is probably the single most important factor in the evolution of anything, from plant and animal species to human languages and cultures. So interestingly enough, a lot of the modern day Black dialect (which, just like everything else, is becoming more and more blended as time progresses - - white people and others routinely use it to express certain moods and ideas, especially if they spent any time around Black people in their lives) has some devices in it that go straight back to Old and Middle English, such as the substitution of t's for d's at the ends of some words ("I want to get my gas turnt on"), because that was just em<x>bedded in the version of the language that they started with. Many of the pronunciations in the Southern accent are straight up French nasal sounds, and so on. And the Appalachian accent is really strange, as it developed under conditions of even more extreme isolation.<br />
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Anyway, you axed.

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Old English, a pronunciation still common in some Southern places.

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I was once talking to a very charming and intelligent black woman on a phone dating line, long ago, who kept saying "axe" and I asked her why. She said, "Because I'm black." I said so it's kind of a racist thing? She said, "No, it's because I'm black." Know what I'm sayin'?

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Ok I see! Thanks

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? Because you guys have a funny axcent =)

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because it's a destructive word. One that suits their personality best

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I guess they do it for the same reason people say "new-cu-lar" instead of "new-cle-ar." It's what they grow up hearing. I used to work for a sales office that sold a lot of product to Northeast Nuclear Energy and it would amaze me how many people who worked there did not properly pronounce the word. Drove me crazy!

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from my experience it is african americans use axe for ask ...

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I live in the midwest, and we don't say it unless you ask being punny

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People say ax out of what is learned behavior yes blacks may say this then a lot of whites do also....First Generation Portuguese and other Southerners do.......No use in correcting just the way they CHOSE to know.

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I think it's a southern thing. I've noticed I say it a lot without meaning to. When I try to say "ask" correctly it just doesn't sound right because when I was younger I always said "Axe".

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dunno but it irks me

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First of all the problems are in either writing or speech<br />
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Problems in speech have several reason, I read a book about this for a course I had to take and there's some problems with how we fix stuff in the brain basically. For example a letter R and L are incorrectly used for L and L. Many such errors and problems have been properly documented and explained and I can't recall all of them anymore. The other could be from the requirements on the articulators , like alliterations (or tongue twisters) , could overlap. Check up on phonetics literature if you want to know an exact answer.<br />
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This specific case looks to me like a problem in speech which occurs because the words sound almost the same (pronunciation being very similar) could just be a slip of the tongue really :)

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Thanks for taking the time to right all that :)

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it is not a problem in speech.. it is a documented dialectical form; rather a huge difference...

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If you're going to correct my mistake, which is good, could you please at least explain what needs to be corrected? How else can I correct my work...

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These people love to chop woods

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I can't stop laughing. lol

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Why ?:P I've been wondering about it for ages lol...I'm easily amused :P

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This question just tickled me lol. We aren't allowed to ask things like this without being called racist.

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That's why we ask such sensitive questions on the Internet...people can't beat us up if they can't find us:P I do t consider myself racist..I stare at black people because I rarely see them lol..not because I'm racist or anything!

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Happens here in England too,,the black lads say it mostly.

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Axe me directly,we'll "chop" out the middle man....

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it is a black idiom, no big deal, but those who use it may or may not be that ethnicity but are acting and thinking its cool

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i know of two possible reasons, 1. that person is trying too hard to be cute<br />
2. they're too lazy to say it properly

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The only people I have ever heard say that were less educated. So, I don't really know.

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