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  • Topic

    ask vs. axe AE

    Mittlerweile scheint das "AXE" um sich zu greifen, für mich als nicht native speaker hört sich das immer fürchtbar an, gerade im Süden der USA scheint dieses Unwort bzw. diese Aussprache das richtege "ASK" verdrängt zu haben. Ist es nun engültig in den Sprachgebrauch übergegangen oder nur eine Randerscheinung?
    AuthorLorenzo5519 Sep 09, 16:37
    I can't speak for the south (because I live in a different part of the country), but I don't think I have ever heard "ask" pronounced as "axe."
    Do you perhaps mean "asks"? I could imagine that pronounced quickly that might sound to some ears a little like "axe."
    #1Author SD3 (451227) 19 Sep 09, 17:31
    I have heard axe as the pronunciation for ask at times. I think when I have heard this pronunciation the speaker tended to be African American.
    #2Authorliving in the south19 Sep 09, 18:42
    Im youtube Video (#4) geht es um das Buch Ax or Ask. Danach kann man prima suchen. Hier mal ein Treffer (schön kurz und sprachbezogen):

    Demnach ist ax weder eine Mode noch eine Randerscheinung. (Kann jemand sagen, ob die Quelle seriös ist?)

    Off Topic: Beim Titel dieses Threads kam mir spontan das deutsche "Wort mit zwei x" in den Sinn: "rüxixlos" :) -- gemeint ist "rücksichtslos". Auch einheimische Zungen können an diesem Wort zerbrechen.
    #12Author ralph-d (393860) 19 Sep 09, 21:32
    #11: I know what the video clip reported. My concern is what you reported. But I can see - sadly - that this conversation with you is going nowhere.

    #12: An interesting link. It is one of the shared characteristics between African-American English and Southern dialects of American English.
    As I said before, I don't live in the south, and I can't remember ever having heard "ask" pronounced this way. Perhaps a Southerner will pass this way and choose to comment on how widespread it is.
    #13Author SD3 (451227) 19 Sep 09, 22:01
    The pronunciation "axe" is common in certain AE dialects, but best I can tell it is not spreading to AE speakers in general, and it is not considered part of standard AE. This particular consonant swizzle (there is a technical term for this in linguistics , but I cannot recall what it is) has been around for centuries, as is evidenced by the text below. I wonder whether the feature is still extant in any British dialect.

    Caxton's The Boke of Eneydos (1490), preface:

    In so moche that in my dayes
    happened that certayn marchauntes were in a shippe in tamyse,
    for to haue sayled ouer the see into zelande / and for lack of
    wynde, thei taryed atte forlond, and wente to lande for to
    refreshe them; And one of theym named sheffelde, a mercer, cam
    in-to an hows and exed for mete; and specyally he axyd after
    eggys; And the goode wyf answerde, that she coude speke no
    frenshe. And the marchaunt was angry, for he also coude speke
    no frenshe, but wolde haue hadde egges / and she vnderstode hym
    not / And thenne at laste a nother sayd that he wolde haue
    eyren / then the good wyf sayd that she vnderstod hym wel /
    Loo, what sholde a man in thyse dayes now wryte, egges or eyren
    / certaynly it is harde to playse euery man / by cause of
    dyuersite & chaunge of langage
    #16AuthorNorbert Juffa (unplugged)19 Sep 09, 22:22
    Sorry, I should have followed the "Word of the Day" link first, where the issue is already explained much more comprehensively than I am able to do.
    #17AuthorNorbert Juffa (unplugged)19 Sep 09, 22:29
    My Dad was from the South, as are many of my relatives - I never heard anyone in his family say "axe" when meaning "ask" - nor anyone else in the region.
    #18Author Carly-AE (237428) 19 Sep 09, 22:37
    My Dad was from the South -- of Maine? :)
    #19Author ralph-d (393860) 19 Sep 09, 22:55
    Well, "the South" is pretty large, and it is reasonable to assume that there is a fairly large degree of variation among Southern dialects. To the ears of this non-native speaker of English, there is a marked difference between the pronunciation of Charleston, SC compared to Dallas, TX, to give just one example. Personally, I am only familiar with the pronunciation "aks" from African-American vernacular.
    #20AuthorNorbert Juffa (unplugged)19 Sep 09, 23:00
    Well, "the South" is pretty large
    Thank you! I've been afraid, that my #19 was a bit too short.

    Personally, I find it offending, that I can merely choose "Süddt." in my LEO profile -- risking to be taken as a bar^Hvarian. Language and Culture is very different in our 'South-West' and 'South-East'.

    I guess I'd neither understand someone from Charleston nor from Dallas (though it would take me five minutes to learn, who is who). Anyway, in the southern jungle, where they actually say "ax", you might be lost as well!

    #21Author ralph-d (393860) 19 Sep 09, 23:22
    I went to university in the South - of the Carolinas - and did hear "aks", though seldom. Of course, I was living among university students and interacting primarily with them and professors.

    I now live in the "South" - of California - and occasionally hear "aks". As with Norbert Jaffa, here I know it only as part of AAVE (African-American Vernacular English). It has not been incorporated into SAE (Standard American English).

    OT: What I do hear much more often is the addition of a vowel in the words "athlete/athletic" (athelete/atheletic)
    #22Author Robert -- US (328606) 19 Sep 09, 23:34
    Frederic G. Cassidy (ed.), Dictionary of American Regional English, vol 1:
    ax v, ax'd, axe, axed See ask A

    ask v
    A Forms.
    1 pres: usu ask [æsk]; also:
    a [æks]. Pron-ssp ax, axe [OE ascian, acsian: see OED ask, etym note] formerly esp NEng, now chiefly Sth, Midl

    For the 20th century, quotations are from: KY, central PA mountains, MS, western NC, eastern TN.

    It's interesting that the two pronunciation ask/aks were apparently interchangeable (to some degree at least) all the way back to Old English, i.e. 1200 years ago.
    #23AuthorNorbert Juffa (unplugged)19 Sep 09, 23:51
    Wow. Thanks for the research, Norbert. That was interesting.
    #24Author Robert -- US (328606) 19 Sep 09, 23:59
    BTW, the linguistic term that had slipped my mind is metathesis
    #25AuthorNorbert Juffa (unplugged)20 Sep 09, 00:13
    I thought "swizzle" was fine. :-b (Thanks for the diligence of posting the correct term.)
    #26Author Robert -- US (328606) 20 Sep 09, 05:38
    ralph-d - South, as in North Carolina - and his sister lives not too far off from Charleston :-)) My mother is "South of Maine," but still a "Yankee" :-))
    #27Author Carly-AE (237428) 20 Sep 09, 19:36
    Comment (by the way, a page linked from the LEO entry "ask") says:
    "The variant in modern dialect ax is as old as O.E. acsian and was an accepted literary variant until c.1600".

    Could the particularly frequent occurrence amongst African Americans simply be related to a--somewhat more general--tendency to sound biblical/archaic? "Brethren" is another word I've never heard from white folks.
    #28AuthorMateusz23 Oct 09, 14:45
    I know axed meaning asked from a dialect poem from Northern Ireland. Sometimes people say axed instead of asked as a joke, but it's definitely not correct in the standard language, even in the regions where this dialect is spoken.

    #29AuthorMackie23 Oct 09, 15:33
    Thanks for getting to the heart of things, Norbert. I remember learning about this in linguistics classes. Yes, "aks" for "ask" is very old in English. It is currently used in the U.S. primarily by speakers of BVE (Black Vernacular English). That may be an out-dated term for the language variety, but it's the one familiar to me from linguistics classes 20 years ago. Speakers of this variety do not necessarily come from the South and are not always African American, though they most often are. I have an African American colleague from Detroit who says "aks". I haven't known her long and haven't spoken with her enough to determine whether she says it only occasionally or most of the time. I would guess that she says it occasionally, since most educated African Americans are at least bi-dialectal, that is, she would tend to speak a more Standard American English around me (an educated white colleague who doesn't speak BVE) and BVE with her family or people she grew up with in Detroit.

    The use of "aks" in BVE is probably either due to metathesis or may well be influenced by the varieties of English spoken by slave owners and overseers, who would have been the first English speakers slaves had extended contact with when they were brought to the U.S. If the overseers spoke a regional variety of English that used "aks" when they came to the U.S., then the slaves would have been influenced by this pronunciation as they learned English and then passed it on to their children.

    Although "aks" may sound archaic or wrong to many or most speakers of English, it is neither to the people who grow up speaking this variety of English. I realize, though, that that is a descriptivist point of view that many speakers or learners of English won't share. If I remember correctly, "aks" was singled out as an example when an African American administrator was recently coaching new teachers to "speak the King's English" in the classroom, particularly if they spoke another variety at home.
    #30Author Amy-MiMi (236989) 23 Oct 09, 17:26
    Adding to Norbert's contribution, the Oxford English Dictionary says:

    Acsian, axian
    (my interpolation: this are older forms) survived in ax, down to 1600 the regular literary form (my emphasis) and still used everywhere in midl. and south. dialects, though supplanted in standard English by ask, originally the northern form.

    #31Author Martin--cal (272273) 23 Oct 09, 18:02
    @ #28: You just haven't been around the right white folks. "Brethren" is very common among a number of evangelical groups. (The denomination I belong to has "Brethren" in its very name.)
    #32Author Robert -- US (328606) 23 Oct 09, 22:13
    Das ist ja wirklich interessant. Da haben also die US-Amerikaner afrikanischen Ursprungs altenglische Formen aufgegriffen.
    #33Author judex (239096) 23 Oct 09, 22:37
    Interesting point, judex. Can someone trace "ax/aks" in BVE (or whatever the current name is) back to Old English usage? Or did it arise independently? The similarity does not demand a causal relationship; it would be interesting to see if this is a result of heritage or coincidence.
    #34Author Robert -- US (328606) 24 Oct 09, 00:04
    Jim (the black slave), in Huckleberry Finn (publ.1884), uses the "ax" form.

    E.g: "What's de use to ax dat question? Don't you see I has?"

    In the preface, Mark Twain writes, "In this book a number of dialects are used, to wit: the Missouri negro dialect; the extremest form of the backwoods Southwestern dialect; the ordinary "Pike County" dialect; and four modified varieties of this last. The shadings have not been done in a haphazard fashion, or by guesswork; but painstakingly, and with the trustworthy guidance and support of personal familiarity with these several forms of speech."
    #35Author Martin--cal (272273) 24 Oct 09, 04:24
    Ich bin ebenfalls Student (im NC), höre es gelegentlich von den sogenannten "Townies" aller Färbe. Manchmal wird im Scherz von Studenten benutzt, die "Unterschichtlich" rüberkommen wollen. Ich kenne jedoch viele amerikanischen Schwarzen, die es nicht benutzen - meiner Meinung nach hat die Wortwahl mehr mit Geld als Rasse (bzw. Pigmentierung...) zu tun.
    #36Author Lonelobo (595126) 24 Oct 09, 07:08
    As far as I'm concerned it's pure ignorance if people can't get the order of phonemes right in a three-letter word.
    #37Author Stravinsky (637051) 24 Oct 09, 09:46
    @37 right according to whom? Did you not read this thread? You don't think it's a little bit presumptuous to label anyone who doesn't agree with your pronunciation 'ignorant'?
    #38Author Lonelobo (595126) 24 Oct 09, 19:00
    Sure I've read this thread. It may have been spelled differently in 1490 (#16), but it's been spelled a-s-k for as long as I can remember.
    #39Author Stravinsky (637051) 24 Oct 09, 19:47
    I don't think the dispute has been (at least for quite a while) about how it's spelled, but about how it's pronounced - and the given link seems to suggest that there is variation in that which suggests something more than simple ignorance. I was born in Canada, where almost everyone pronounces asphalt as "Ash-Fault" - this doesn't mean we spell it incorrectly, nor does it (hopefully) betray a sense of ignorance amongst Canadians.

    I'm somewhat offput by someone who would label people with a non-standard (or even just minority for a particular region/social field) pronunciation "ignorant." This being a language forum, after all, I think we can be a little bit more educated than that. They are, after all, signifiers arbitrarily related to signifieds, and as such inhabit a fairly extensive discursive field. Had you ever considered why some people might choose to say 'axe' instead of 'ask'?

    "Metathesis is usually a slip of the tongue, but (as in the cases of /asteriks/ and /nukular/) it can become a variant of the original word. This alternative version in Old English was axian or acsian, as in Chaucer's: "I axe, why the fyfte man Was nought housband to the Samaritan?" (Wife's Prologue 1386). Ascian and axian co-existed and evolved separately in various regions of England. The ascian version gives us the modern standard English ask, but the axian variant ax can still be found in England's Midland and Southern dialects."
    #40Author Lonelobo (595126) 24 Oct 09, 20:58
    #40: the axian variant ax can still be found in England's Midland and Southern dialects. Really? Do you happen to know where precisely?
    #41Author SD3 (451227) 24 Oct 09, 21:30

    Ich habe einfach aus dem oben geposteten Artikel zitiert.
    #42Author Lonelobo (595126) 25 Oct 09, 00:56
    In my experience, the ax pronunciation is common - though hardly universal - among black Americans. I've heard even educated black people say it, unselfconsciously. However, it is generally recognized to be non-standard AE, so it is sometimes considered a marker of lower social class or level education.

    I don't recall whether I've heard white people say it.

    To Stravinsky and others - you may consider it wrong, but it is quite standard in a certain speech community.

    It's like our former president George Bush - he always said nuk-you-lar instead of nuclear. This may be a bad example because he was quite unpopular (and certainly outside the US) - but the point is that this was non just a George Bush-ism, but a variant pronunciation which was common in certain speech communities in the Midwest.
    #43Author eric (new york) (63613) 25 Oct 09, 08:11
    [OT] Eric, I understand your point, but George Bush was from Texas. He doesn't speak like anyone I know from the Midwest. Even if people in other parts of the U.S., even the Midwest, do say nuke-yuh-ler, please don't use George as a representative for the way we Midwesterners talk. Everyone I know from the Midwest says new-klee-ur. To sum up, Texas is not the Midwest, even if it's in the middle of the country, when seen from the coasts.
    #44Author Amy-MiMi (236989) 25 Oct 09, 23:00
    I've heard ask pronounced as axe also in New Zealand. They also pronounce etcetera as exetera.
    But then the Kiwi accent is very special in itself.
    #45AuthorMine26 Oct 09, 12:36

    Why do people say AKS (or AX) instead of ASK?

    #46Author Stravinsky (637051) 06 Dec 22, 23:35

    re #46, bei dem martialischen Anblick bei Start des Videos hätte ich es fast gar nicht erst laufen lassen ... aber zum Glück nur fast ... es kommt ein Linguist zu Wort ... Aufhänger ist eine Rede des eingangs abgebildeten Darstellers ... zu Verleihung seines Doktortitels ...

    #47Author no me bré (700807)  07 Dec 22, 10:41

    For a more recent thread on the same topic: related discussion: ax (I ax'd him)

    #48AuthorBion (1092007) 07 Dec 22, 16:38
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