Sunday, November 6, 2011

Won't (or the English language is insane)

I was sitting on a bus today, reading the various advertisements and came across one in particular which made use of the word, "won't". I paused and thought about the word; obviously it was a contraction in the same vein as "can't" or "don't". But wait, I thought, "can't" is a contraction of "can not", "don't" is a contraction of "do not" and "won't" is the contraction of "will not".

So wait a minute, how does one get "won't" from "will not"?

The "ill" is dropped completely, the "n" and "o" flip positions and we add an apostrophe to stand in for, well nothing, clearly the "o" is still there. This makes no sense.

Etymologically, he root terms are wo'n't, wonnot or willn't, and all are archaic and generally obsolete. Somehow it seems that this bizarre contraction has managed to survive, where its slightly more sensible precursors have not.

I can think of a similar example, albeit few actually use the word outside of a mocking tone with some sort of highfalutin accent attached. The word, "shan't" which is a similar contraction of "shall" and "not". Even then the contraction is not quite as terrible as "won't".

English, as I have long believed, is a ridiculous language.

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