Thursday, March 24, 2011

When my grandson Ian was four, he began to say “I amn’t” for “I am not.” It intrigued me that a child would know instinctively how to make a contraction that he had not heard before.

His contraction made sense, I thought.  If the plural of “are not” is “aren’t” is it not perfectly logical that the singular of “am not” be “amn’t”?

When I saw that James Joyce used the word in The Dubliners, I assumed it was an “old” word. But I was surprised to learn that it is still used mainly in Ireland and Scotland.

Perhaps my Irish cousins will enlighten me on this.


  1. Is that where I ain't came from? When kids begin to talk, they come up with a lot of interesting words and pronunciations.

  2. Each of my two daughters invented a word that had a kind of logic to it. One was 'helikettle' for 'helicopter' and the other one was 'windy shelf' for 'window sill'.