Lemme Axe You Sum'in

My parents, and other people I hate, love to make fun of people when they say "axe" instead of "ask." And who can blame them, I guess - it does sound kind of funny. But these people I hate, they see "axe" as a sure sign of someone's inferior intelligence - some disgusting mutation of the English language that needs to be stopped before we all go to hell in a hand basket.

Now, maybe the Middle Ages was a bit like hell in a hand basket (what the hell does that mean, anyway), but it turns out that "axe" in place of "ask" has historical precedent. I acknowledge, also, that Middle English sounds pretty gosh-darn funny, but this is for all the people I hate.

"But I axe why the fifthe man
Was noon housbonde to the Samaritan"

-The Wife of Bath's Prologue, from The Canterbury Tales (lines 21-22)

Now try calling Geoffrey Chaucer an illiterate moron. It turns out "mo'" instead of "more" has the same sort of historical precedent - a few lines later, the wife uses it a couple times. Maybe Ebonics didn't evolve from slaves mixing their African syntax with an English vocabulary. Maybe Chaucer is the gret-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather of modern urban slang.


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