Contractions

Discussion in 'Evolution of Language' started by Ken Anderson, Jun 8, 2015.

  1. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    I am only going to introduce one contraction here but, sensing that it will probably lead to other examples, I have opted to use the more general heading.

    "Won't" is defined and used as a contraction, and it seems to be a contraction of "will not," except that this doesn't make any sense. We once had a perfectly sensible contraction that served the same purpose, but it has fallen out of use and is archaic. It would make more sense to use "shan't" instead, except that people will assume that you're quoting a line from Little House on the Prairie.

    Shan't is a contraction of "shall not" and is one that makes sense, whereas if we were to contract "will not," a better contraction would be "wi'nt," except that it sounds weird.
     
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  2. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
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    I always wondered about the 'won't" contraction, too, since it obviously does not appear to be a contraction of will not. Perhaps it was originally used instead of "would not" , and some how we just got both contractions of 'wouldn't" and "won't" for the same set of words.
    We seem to have all kinds of odd words in our version of the English language. There are people here from so many different countries, many of which also speak English; but do it altogether different from each country; so I suppose we were bound to get some strange words.
    The slang term "ain't" is another puzzler. It usually gets used in place of "am not" , which it is sort of similar to; but it also is used instead of "is not" and "are not", which it in no way resembles.
     
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  3. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Except that "I will not" and "I would not" don't carry the same meaning, exactly.
     
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  4. Jennifer Graves

    Jennifer Graves Active Member
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    I never made that connection. I'll read as many of these as you put up!
    You did leave out one little detail.
    For 80% of the people today, it has an entirely new meaning. It appears as though "won't" is synonomous with "Want"
     
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  5. Tom Locke

    Tom Locke Very Well-Known Member
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    I wouldn't (ha!) be certain, but I suspect "won't" comes from medieval English. I have seen the negative "wonnot" somewhere in medieval literature, which suggests that "woll not" was the usage. "Woll" did not last, becoming "will" but its negative form did.
     
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  6. Joe Riley

    Joe Riley Veteran Member
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  7. Clark Smith

    Clark Smith New Member
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    This could be right but "wi'nt" doesn't sounds good to my hears and I think also doesn't sounds really good to the ones who "invented" the english language right?
     
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  8. Carlota Clemens

    Carlota Clemens Well-Known Member
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    I was taught that contractions never should be used when it comes to write down your thoughts. This is using formal language and I do not see why should not be expressed this way regardless you make use of it when talking or writing.

    Contractions may come handy when I say I don't like how some of them look like and much less how they sound.

    While the negative forms of will, do, to be, and to have make sense relatively, some contractions involving to be and to have shouldn't be used because these might be confusing.

    I'd liked to.... what? I had liked? I did liked? I would liked?

    Similarly having to guess when "we're" (we are? we were?) or similar contractions take place.
     
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  9. Tom Locke

    Tom Locke Very Well-Known Member
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    Of course, one thing that doesn't help is that people fling apostrophes around like confetti, hurling them into places they just shouldn't go and conversely, omitting them from where they should go.
     
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  10. Ruth Belena

    Ruth Belena Active Member
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    We're is simply "we are" without the letter A as indicated by the punctuation. It is often confused with were as in "We were going to go" which has no apostrophe.

    Personally I don't like to see official notices using an abbreviation, such as "We're open for business" or "we're sorry for the delay". I would much rather see "we are" when it is printed as text. It is so much clearer and more positive to say that we are open or we are sorry than to use the abbreviated form.
     
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  11. Jennifer Graves

    Jennifer Graves Active Member
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    I get what you're saying, and I agree except I believe there's one exception... One of those businesses who know all their customers by name. I never want or expect them to be "professional". Anyone else, though, I agree.
     
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  12. Tom Locke

    Tom Locke Very Well-Known Member
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    Yikes, this stuff reminds me of when I studied linguistics and leads us to theories of literary clines, where we study the relationship between everyday linguistic creativity and literary language. Thus, contractions are at the everyday end of the cline and full versions are situated towards the literary end. It is an area in which context is everything (in my view, at least). The better you know the person you are addressing, or the less formal the setting, the more you will veer towards the 'everyday'.
     
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  13. Diane Lane

    Diane Lane Very Well-Known Member
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    I agree with @Tom Locke. Even when writing, I will use contractions, especially when I'm writing to family or close friends. If I'm actually hand writing, I use all sorts of abbreviations, since it usually hurts more than typing, so I might be a little more formal when typing, especially if it's a letter or report. I don't mind contractions in writing, unless it's very formal, as in contractual language. As I just noticed, I'm less formal when posting on forums, also, since I just mixed more formal with contractions in the same post.
     
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  14. Corie Henson

    Corie Henson Very Well-Known Member
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    From what I understand Wont is a word that means habitual. Example: With that tight schedule, he is wont to skip breakfast, That WONT has no apostrophe. With the apostrophe - won't - that is a contraction that is being debated here, hahahaaa. Our usage here of won't is more of the will not than would not. It may be wrong somehow but that's the practice.

    May I segue a bit. This just comes to my mind now. The use of Can and Could has a big difference. When we had a consultant who is a foreigner, I usually hear from him the request - could you do this. I noticed that what we use is - can you do this. The American consultant said that the use of could in that request sounds polite and is much better since using can in a request is like a command.
     
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  15. Peter Remington

    Peter Remington Active Member
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    Interesting thread, you guys. Okay, language buffs, here's (here is) one that utterly baffles me: When, and when not to, use an apostrophe with 'its' (vs. it's). Is it possessive or a contraction for 'it is' or both? If so, when? I won't say I'm wont to seek out this answer.
     
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  16. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    I believe that it's is correct only when used as a contraction, but not as a possessive. This is odd because 's is used to indicate possession in other words. I believe that's the rule. If you can replace it's with it is or with it has, then it is correct; otherwise, leave out the apostrophe.
     
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  17. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
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    This is exactly correct ! It is unique because every other word that shows possession always has an apostrophe just for that purpose. Every other contraction also has the apostrophe to show it is a contraction.
    Therefore, we only use the apostrophe when it is used as a contraction, and not to show possession when writing "its".
     
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  18. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Very Well-Known Member
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    Now, at long last I total'y understand why my dad was sooo confus'd when I wrote him to tell him I had gott'n a contraction in Vietnam. I put the apostrophe in the wrong place when I said the doctor's told me "it's" ****" He thought that since it was simply writt'n it's or "IT IS" rather than the possessive form, that someone else had contract'd it and I was spill'g the beans about someone he didn't even know!

    Relief at last. Now, I've [got] another question. No I don't. Nice to see ya' around Pet'r!
     
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  19. Peter Remington

    Peter Remington Active Member
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    Nice to be back, Bobby! As you and Yvonne already know, I've been very ill in the past three months or so but, at this point, I believe that I am scratching and clawing my way back to normalcy (for ME, anyway). Release the Kraken!!
     
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  20. Tom Locke

    Tom Locke Very Well-Known Member
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    English is full of these sort of exceptions that prove rules. Possessive "its" is one of them. Off the top of my head, another is the plural of "money", which is a slightly strange concept anyway. "Money" can be singular or plural, but if you use "monies", the usual rule is broken. Words ending with -y become -ies and words ending with -ey become -eys, except with "money". So you have donkeys and monkeys, but you have monies.
     
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