It is not 'ax' its 'ask'

So what you are saying is that it is Southern US way to ask? Well I don’t live anywhere close to the South, not even in the US and I still hear this. On TV mostly, admittedly, but I do hear it occasionally here in the great white north.

And anyway I don’t buy that it is a southern US thing. Maybe I’m being thick, but I think its just a lazy way t o speak properly. If you have to think to speak properly, yes I do think that is a lack of education thing. I’d be willing to bet that people with a college/university say ‘ask’ a lot more often. As well as you and I, rather then me and you., which also bothers me.

Having to think/concentrate before you speak? I’d imagine the vast majority of Dopers should be doing this anyway.

I’m not sure why anyone says “ax” instead of “ask”, but the “ease of pronunciation” argument never made much sense to me. The “-ask” sound is quite common in English (task, flask, mask, casket…) and yet it is only this one word that gets mangled.

On the other hand, it’s not too hard to see why so many people say “nukyular” instead of “nuclear”. Not only is the “CLEE-er” sound uncommon in English, the “kyu-ler” sound is rather common, especially in more technical terms like “muscular” or “vascular”.

Vaxular, anyone? :slight_smile:

I can kinda see why people might have trouble pronouncing “ask”, esp. if they grew up around people who say “ax” or if they have a speech impediment.

Myself, I have trouble saying “rural” and “brewery”, and forget about saying both words together. It ends up sounding like a bunch of R’s got in a big “R” accident.

Hey! I made a funny!

Well, yeah, there are differences. But here’s another, better, example. Part of President Kennedy’s inaugural address goes like this:

Except, Kennedy, when he gave the address, didn’t say that. What he said was more like this:

Kennedy was an intelligent man, and well educated, but he was also from Boston, and Bostonians tend to drop their 'r’s and flatten their "a"s. Equally, in some dialects and accents of English, people say the word “ask” the same way they say the word “ax”. This isn’t the only example of this.

I pronounce “Mary”, “merry”, and “marry” identically, because I was raised in a place where those words all were pronounced identically. However, there are other English speakers who pronounce those words differently. That’s not because I’m smarter than they are or vice versa, but just because we grew up learning certain accents.


Read again that link you found to be so interesting. It gives ax a provenence as a variant dating back to Chaucer’s time, and a distribution over half of the U.S. as well as England.

You are.

It is a regional dialect. People who speak that way were taught to speak that way.

I have a college education, and I often have to think to speak properly. Actually, I find that if speak without thinking it pretty much comes out as gibberish.

Perhaps, but how many people do you know who actually have a “college/university” ? When you get right down to it that’s going to be a very small statistical sample.

You have an interesting variant spelling of “than” in that sentence, as well as a punctuation mark (.,) that I have never seen before.

Perhaps you could offer us a demonstration?

WHY do Brits and Canadians pronounce “aluminum” as AL LOO MIN EE U M? :confused:

Because they spell it “aluminium”. The -ium ending is common for chemical elements.

While we’re at that, a pet peeve:

To pluralize a singular, add apostrophe-S. It does not matter if the singular ends with an S. For instance, if you want to refer to a golf club owned by Tiger Woods, you would call it “Tiger Woods’s seven-iron.” It is pronounced “Woods-es.”

“Tiger Woods’ seven-iron” is one hundred percent wrong.

Of course, I don’t mean PLURALIZE, I mean MAKE POSSESSIVE. Sorry.

Go to the link I posted above. The website says that “ax” for “ask” is common in the South, as well as African American Vernacular English. In fact, linguists hypothesize that the presence of “ax” in Southern dialect stems from a dialect of British English spoken by colonists.

I don’t understand why people have to label language as “lazy”. That’s like me saying that Bostonians speak “lazy” because they say “cah” instead of “car”. Or New Jersyians speak “lazy” because they say “or-range” rather than “orange”.

Writing LMAO is perhaps a lazy way of saying laughing my ass off. But saying a word differently than you do does not indicate (at least to me) a difference in work ethic.

These two sentences

contradict one another.

I’m well educated and have to think when I speak sometimes. For me, it’s natural to say “Me and so-and-so are going to the store”. It’s also more natural to say things like “Everybody was there”, “Where are you going to?”, and “If I was you…” And according to The Rules, these are wrong wrong wrong. I will follow The Rules when I’m writing a paper or when I’m being a professional. But outside of these situations, I DO NOT CARE. Nor do I care how others speak, as long as I can understand them and their language isn’t rife with profanity and empty phrases (like, youknowwhatI’msayin, etc.)

It does not make me feel good to be the Grammar and Pronunciation Marm. People who are like this GET ON MY NERVES.

Fine, still pisses me off though.

The people were taught incorrectly then. Repeating the errors of your father is not an excuse.

Umm, good for you, not sure what point you are trying to make here. To think before you speak? Please do.

I should have said college or university. In Canada we draw a distinction between the 2, in the US it doesn’t seem that you do.

Yes I noticed this myself, after I hit submit though. I was waiting for someone to call me on this. Way to go, 1 point for you.

I was making a joke, maybe a bad joke, but a joke nonethless.


Once again, with rythmn–IT’S A REGIONAL DIALECT. Not just their fathers, but their mothers, aunts, uncles, friends, teachers, coaches, ministers…I’TS HOW THEY TALK. And it’s not incorrect. It’s a variant with a history reaching hundreds of years in the past. Way before your father taught you how to be a close-minded chucking fucklehead.

My point was that having to think before speaking is not a lack of education thing. In fact, I think that the more educated you are the more you appreciate the value of thinking before you speak.

College or university what? You said “people that have a college/university say ask a lot more often.” How many people do you know who have a college or university, if that makes it clearer for you. Perhaps you meant college or university education? Were you too lazy to proofread before you posted that?

It sounds terrible. And I’ve never had trouble pronouncing “ask.” I mean, shit, if you have trouble pronouncing something, then concentrate when you’re doing it. I’d rather take longer to say it than come off sounding like an idiot.

Disclaimer: If you have an actual speech impediment, that’s one thing, but someone who pronounces other things correctly should be able to say “ask.”

I have several colleagues in Mississippi who have college degrees and still use the regional “aks” when speaking. These are accomplished people who, I would say, have the education, intelligence and courtesy not to categorize an entire region as you have done with this statement. Your assumption is erroneous and your conclusion is insulting.

In every county, as far as I can tell, there is a “standard” dialect and accent, and people who speak with that dialect and accent, or close to it, tend to be seen as more intelligent, or generally “better” than those who speak with other accents or dialects. The US and Canada certainly do.

However, it’s important to remember that such a choice of dialect and accent is arbitrary. It might have come about because the king speaks with that dialect and accent, or some school that becomes important teaches that dialect and accent, or, when radio and TV comes to the area, the radio and TV announcers speak with that dialect or accent. However, it’s all subjective. The “standard” dialect and accent isn’t any better than any other dialect or accent.

However, unfortunately, it’s not seen that way. If, for example, you have a southern accent, or if you speak in AAVE, that’s going to hurt you professionally. While that’s a fact, it also isn’t fair, and when you call people who speak with accents and dialects different than the standard one “ignorant” or “unintelligent”, you’re just expressing and confirming a stereotype that doesn’t have basis in reality.

Okay, I will give you the Brits. As well, I know the Aussies do it. But I have lived throughout Canada for most of my life from New Brunswick to Manitoba to Alberta. I spent summers in BC as that is where my grandparents lived. I have never heard a Canadian pronounce it AL LOO MIN EE UM. Hell, my parents and I used to joke about Aussies doing it when we lived there.

Recent headline from The Onion:


That is not how I was taught in English class. It may be different in America, but in Australia, saying “Tiger Woods’ seven-iron” is one hundred percent correct. Just so you know.

Yep, it’s aluminium in Australia. As John Mace correctly points out, this is not just a matter of different pronunciation, but of different spelling as well.

And given that Australia is the world’s largest producer of bauxite (aluminium ore) and alumina, i reckon we Aussies can say it any way we like. :slight_smile:

Having lived in the US for four years, in Canada for two, and in England for two (after growing up in Australia), i’ve heard a lot of the different pronunciations common in the wqestern, English-speaking world. Variations generally don’t worry me at all.

There is one pronunciation, however, for which i have a complete, unabiding, and totally irrational hatred: the North American pronunciation of the word “herb.”

As Eddie Izzard says: “There’s a fucking ‘h’ in it!!!” :slight_smile: