Double Contractions

Wouldn’t the correct contraction for “I would have” be "I’d’ve? Is this proper English?

Probably. But what is “won’t” a contraction of- “would not”?

I’d’ve written it that way. Not a common written expression because we write more clearly than we speak. Sometimes using complete sentences.

“Won’t” is an abbreviation for “will not”, as you already knew. The spoken form of the contraction presumably predates the written form. Otherwise we’d probably write it “win’t” (or something) and pronounce it “won’t”. (But our increasingly literate society tends to pronounce words using their “spelling pronunciation”. For example, “often” and “sword” are usually pronounced as if the “t” and “s” are not (as they originally were) silent. It won’t be long before we eat brake-fast. We already have a fore-head when we used to have a “forrid”. (There was a little girl, who had a little curl…))

“Finally, consider Kottke’s voice which sounds like geese farts on a muggy day.”
Leo Kottke
6- And 12-String Guitar

Pluto, I like your style. But isn’t it possible that we are also talking about regionalisms (or regional acents, if you prefer)? I mean, forehead may have become ‘forrid’ in the Queen’s English, but forehead “musta” started as ‘for-hedd’ in the beginning, no? It’s “clearly” a combination of “fore” (front of; before) and “head” (generally least-used part of the body; extra appendage that forces doorways to be built high). While I generally agree with your comments on the unwitting creativity of the ignorant, isn’t it possible that, like ‘roof’ and ‘ruhf’ or ‘tomato’ and ‘tomahto’, “forehead” isn’t just a case of literalists forgetting the “True” language and unimaginatively saying it the way they read it?

I was born in California but raised in Canada (and later returned to The Golden State), and have come across Some Examples, to whit:

I pronounce BURY “burry,” not “berry.”
I pronounce SHONE “shawn” (rhymes with GONE) not “shoan” (rhymes with BONE).
I pronounce SORRY “soary,” not “sarry.”
I know a New Orleaner who pronounces WAR “warr,” not “wore.”

I think none of these examples derive from the spelling, but rather from the fact that Yorkers, Doverites, etc. don’t speak like Oxforders or Londoners, and it was they who came over here, mostly.

And yes, I’d’ve and would’nt’ve are correct.

Hmm, it also occurs that, since German-Americans are the largest slice of European-Americans now extant (~40%), that the German language and its harsher “style” must’ve had a strong influence on the English spoken - and also that PLUTO YOU MAY BE QUITE RIGHT about the written word influencing the spoken. I mean think of it: a German immigrates, must learn English - what more natural than that he learns from written sources and pronounces it the “logical” way?

I don’t know of any double contractions (like I’d’ve) that are standard. I think it’s okay to use them in speech, and in quotations, but then speech is pretty loose anyway. There is of course the word “sha’n’t”, but that only starts out as two words. Plus my mom tells me I sound pretentious when I use it.

I try to avoid contractions in writing, with limited success. That’sn’t so bad, because it’s okay as long’s you don’t use 'em too much, y’know?

Funny contraction I used to see in writing:
“May’n’t we?” (May we not, contracted and mixed around)

Actually, I thought of a double contraction that might have been standard: 'tisn’t. That one can be a whole sentence (just like I’ve and I’m).

Yes, it’s possible “forrid” is a regionalism.

I was just trying to point out that a frequent source of mispronunciation nowadays is the aforementioned spelling pronunciation. This usually occurs when a word has a historical pronunciation that differs from a reasonable phonetic interpretation of the written form, and is uncommon enough that we read the word before we hear it. So I don’t really think “breakfast” is in any danger, since we are all familiar with the common pronunciation before we ever read it anywhere.

What is annoying is when the mispronunciation is the result of someone putting on airs and using a relatively obscure word and then pronouncing it wrong. My boss always mispronounces “potpourri” as “pot-poory” and it drives me nuts! Water you can drink (potable) is poh-tuh-bul, not paw-tuh-bul, although a pot is a wonderful thing to boil water in. And the guy in charge of the fricking finances (or whatever it is he does) at your company is the kawn-troller, not the kawmp-troller, even though it’s spelled “comptroller”.

Whew! I feel better now!

Pronunciation is a moving target, I know. It’s just that sometimes when we try to show how much we know, we show how ignorant we are.


“Finally, consider Kottke’s voice which sounds like geese farts on a muggy day.”
Leo Kottke
6- And 12-String Guitar

Boy, for some reason I’m really tied into this thread. (Hey, that’s a pun!)

Boris, I think the correct spelling of “sha’n’t” is “shan’t”. It’s common for a single apostrophe to stand for multiple contractions in a short word like that. That’s why the contraction for “and” is frequently spelled “'n”, which isn’t quite logical, but is kind of in keeping with the spirit of the thing.

I have seen British usage (specifically Jane Austen) where the apostrophes were omitted altogether – “don’t” was “dont” and “won’t” was “wont”. I don’t know if that’s common or was only common in her day or whether she was just trying to change the rules.

“Finally, consider Kottke’s voice which sounds like geese farts on a muggy day.”
Leo Kottke
6- And 12-String Guitar

Aww man, I wanted shant to be “sha’n’t” so that people who insist on glottal stops where apostrophes are would be forced to pronounce it “sha uhh nnn uhh t”. People don’t do this that much, but sometimes people pronounce D’Amato “dee amato” and I don’t know what they’re thinking.

How on earth do you pronounce ‘sword’ with a silent ‘s’??? Are you sure about that? Perhaps you meant a silent ‘w’?

Well, anyways. My contribution is - ‘ain’t’ is short for ‘are not’ and therefore should be considered a real word. It’s a shame that it isn’t.

“So what you are telling me, Percy, is that something you have never seen is slightly less blue than something else that you have never seen.”

Whaddaya mean ‘ain’t’ ain’t a real word? Am’t I right in saying it’s a real word; it’s just vulgar? An’ why ain’t there the contraction ‘am’t’? Am’t I reasonable in objecting to using ‘aren’t’ for ‘am’t’? 'Tain’t right t’use ‘aren’t’ for it. Before we try to handle those double contractions, I think we oughta get the single ones fixed up.

As far as glottal stops go, I don’t think they go very far in English (discounting unrecognized initial ones), there’s su~h’m like one in that cut-down word. I guess the Brooklynese are allowed one in ‘bo’l’.

Are single contractions built from infinitive particles OK? They ought to’ve been early on.

As to forces toward reregularization of the language, maybe they’re not so bad. ‘Lay’ and ‘laid’ used in place of ‘lie’ and ‘lay’/‘lain’, respectively, really grate on me, but they are closer to the regular tense formulations.

In addition to the differences of English brought over from England into respective sections of this country, I think Western versions of General American are influenced also by the much simpler vowel system of Spanish. (‘merry’ = ‘marry’ = 'Mary ', ‘la’ = ‘law’, etc.)

Ray (What ever happened to the shortened spelling of the '40s (nite, enuf, etc.)?

I always thought that it is not proper practice to ever use contractions when writing unless it is dialogue in quotation marks. The main reason for this posting is to plug a terrific book “Made in America” by Bill Bryson. It is a very detailed analysis of the development of the English language in America. He also wrote another earlier shorter book on the English language. They are both very entertaining and the huge amount of English language trivia in the books would have Straight Dope devotees quivering with delight like puppies.

In England, and I think it’s confined to Humberside and S. Yorkshire, they do have a word for “am’t” (c.f. ain’t), it’s hard to describe, but it comes out something like ‘arrt’…a bit like ‘heart’

GuanoLad, you caught me! If you tried to pronounce sword with a silent “s” it would sound an awful lot like a best-selling software program created by The Great Satan in Redmond.

An excellent book on this kind of thing is The Origins and Development of the English Language, by Thomas Pyles. Concerning ain’t I quote the following snippet:

He goes on to say that ain’t was perfectly acceptable usage, even by educated people, well into the late nineteenth century.

In addition, *won’t[\i] is from *wol not[\i], an alternate form of will not which somehow survived in the contraction. Don’t is also troublesome, because although it is spelled as we would expect, it is pronounced differently.

It’s surprising we can find our way home at night!

“Finally, consider Kottke’s voice which sounds like geese farts on a muggy day.”
Leo Kottke
6- And 12-String Guitar

Is that a linguistic task for you?

Ray (If you read 4.0 when you try to pronounce your AmerEnglish, you may want to walk home.)

pluto: sidle on over to the buffet and have some horsderves - you deserve 'em.

Ray: dunno, but I allas thought the word you’re lookin’ for is pronounced and spelled “amn’t.”

William Faulkner and Jerome Charyn never use an apostrophe in “aint.”