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Monday, January 30, 2006

You axed for it

When I was a kid, I loved reading a magazine called Famous Monsters. This was a monthly magazine celebrating horror movies- the actors, creatures and movie makers of the genre. There was a two or three page spread called You Axed For It in which subscribers who sent in their photo could see themselves being attributed as a fan of a particular actor or creature. Usually there was a really corny caption to accompany it. Great fun it was. You "axed" for it - get it? Ha ha hah.

But the word "axe" has crept into every day language as a substitute for the word "ask." I don't know when it started, all I know is that the first time I heard someone say to me "Can I axe you something?" I really didn't understand what had just been said to me.

The question was asked again "Can I axe you something?"

"Ah, well, no. If I want something killed I can do it myself." It was an odd reply, yes, but I really didn't get what the person was saying to me. The light bulb did finally go off and I wound up doing an Edith Bunker-Oh-get-it-now response.

"That's not how to pronounce 'ask'," I said lamely. I wondered if the lady was using English as a second language or something. Where the hell do you get "axe" for "ask"?

It turns out that the usage of this mispronounced word has invaded the English language to an alarming and annoying degree. Every time I hear someone say "axe" for "ask" I do an involuntary shiver, much in the same way I react when I hear someone say "You did good."

Yeah, I done good and I'm gonna axe you to leave now.


Criseyde said...

Ok, you axed for it. As is the case with a lot of the grammar, pronunciation, and usage errors that people make, the confusion over the sk vs. ks sound in ask is not really new. The Old English verb for ask is ascian, but the alternate spellings that show up in some texts include acsian, ahsian, and axian.

Irishcoda said...

Just read the comment above, interesting tidbit of information! So it totally changed what I was gonna say so...
the other one that gets me is birfday parties and birfday celebrations and Happy Birfday, out of the mouths of adults. I'm not sure where that comes from.

Anonymous said...

Yeah and the one that gets me is 1,2,3,foe instead of four. The thing about it is I hear teachers doing this who are teaching children in k-3rd grade. Now that is really teaching them something. Bad English.

~Jackie~ said...

I've missed several of your articles but just caught this one. My husband is an English major and he feels the same about the English language. He doesn't say hurtful things to people but he does cringe at the misusage of the language. I'm not as picky since English is always been difficult for me. I always felt it was more important what the message was saying, meant, than the grammar, punctuation, pronunciation, etc. But now after writing my own stories, I appreciate the usage of words and how important words can be, especially in writing to convey a message. My spelling isn't so good without a spell-checker, nor is my grammar but it is important to be understood if you want something from others. Even if it's just to be understood.