Skip to main content

Aren't I?

Notice anything strange here: I'm allowed to write this sentence, aren't I?

It occurred to me recently that the phrase "aren't I" is peculiar. Either it is an exception to normal grammatical rules, or it is a commonly accepted mistake.

(5 minutes later)

The internet tells me that "amn't I" is still used colloquially in Scotland and Ireland (one more reason I love the Isles). A suggested etymology is that the difficulty of pronouncing the "m-n" combination develops the contraction into "an't I" which in a British non "r" pronouncing dialect, sounds remarkably the same as "aren't." Which is what it became over time.

In other etymological news, I had been puzzling over the phrase, "the world is your oyster," for some time. I knew what it meant - that the world is at your fingertips, everything is available to you, etc - but not why.

So I looked it up a couple of weeks ago. It's a quote from Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor.

Why, then the world's mine oyster,
Which I with sword will open.

If you have money, you have anything you want. Thank you, Shakespeare, for yet another cultural staple.

(I really am a nerd, aren't I?)


Terra said…
you really should read "The Secret Life of Words: How English became English" by Henry Hitchings. You would love it! How many languages do you think english has absorbs words from over the years? 100, 35? Try 350!
Sarah said…
The "nerdiness" is part of your charm, one of the things we love about you :) Thanks for sharing your discoveries!
Anonymous said…
I personally prefer saying "amn't I". It just makes so much 'sense'. "Aren't I" is clearly from Oprah's dikionary.
Mindy said…
My parents just went to Stratford-upon-Avon (Shakepeare's birth place) and said he actually invented over 1500 of phrases and words we use in the English language. Check out this website:

Popular posts from this blog

What About Travis!?

I just watched Hope Floats, the second movie in my I-really-need-to-vegetate night. Now that we have more than three channels, there are so many quality programs on TV! Like movies in the middle of the week. I enjoyed many of the lines in this movie, including:

"I went home and told my mama you had a seizure in my mouth."
(referring to her first french-kissing experience)

"Dancing's just a conversation between two people. Talk to me."
(the conversation in our living room then went,
Girl 1: Only Harry Connick Jr. could say that line without it being incredibly cheezy.
Boy: Without it being cheezy? That's all I heard. Cheez, cheez, cheez.
Girl 2: Yeah, but it was sexy, sexy cheez...sigh.)
"Better do what she says, Travis. Grandma stuffs little dogs."

Bernice: At home we had a pet skunk. Mama used to call it Justin Matisse. Do you think that's just a coincidence? All day long she would scream, "You stink Justin Matisse!" Then one day she just…

Fostering FAQ: How Can You Say Goodbye?

It seems I finally have something(s) to say... Here's the first in a short (or maybe long?) series on Fostering FAQs. If you've got a question to add, feel free to comment/email/text/message me and maybe the next post will be in response.


8:30 am on Day 4 of parenting. I woke up in a panic two hours ago because I remembered that there is a baby and I am responsible for her (at least at 6:30am, when the man beside me will snore through anything). Now, I have put on clothes and eaten breakfast. The dogs are walked, there is a loaf of banana bread in the oven. My tea is steeping. Most importantly, Dream Baby is already down for her first nap.

Despite my morning efficiency, I'm already beginning to see that even with the happiest, most easygoing, and smiliest baby, like we somehow managed to be given, parenting is a grind. On Friday night, I couldn't join friends for $5 pints at a local joint. Instead, I blearily washed the same 8 bottles again, and then made another ba…

Fostering FAQ: How Long Will She Stay/Will You Adopt Her?

Our first foster baby came with about 18 hours notice; it was respite care, which means we had him for a few days while his regular foster family had a break/dealt with a family emergency. He stayed 3 nights, long enough to come to church and have a dozen people cooing over his little sleeping cheeks.  With each new visitor to our quiet corner, I explained again that he would be going back to his foster family the next day.

Barely a week later, we got a 9am phone call with a fostering request and by the same afternoon, we were snuggling her. This time, we had her for 4 days before church came around. Again, our community was keen to see the little one we had in tow. Again, the question, "How long will she stay?" And this time, "Are you going to adopt her?"


Here in Toronto, when a child is placed in foster care, it is always for an indefinite length of time. It depends on the parents' situation, and whether they are able to make a safe home environment for th…