Date: Tue, 22 Nov 1994 10:24:53 -0500


Subject: Re: "All-purpose tag ain' so?

It is tempting to think that ain' so is very much like n'est-ce pas. We're

still doing some work on this, but at least among Belgian-Americans who use the

form ain' so, the following sentences are dubious to unacceptable:

*You REALLY don't care, ain' so?

*You DON'T suppose I'd do such a thing, ain' so?

*You did it, ain' so? (accusation)

*You WILL do it, ain' so?

*That's NOT the smart way to do it, ain' so?

*You just couldn't wait, ain'so?

*You don't think I'd just walk away, ain' so?

These are fairly similar to sentences from J.-P. Vinay & J. Darbelnet,

Stylistique comparee du francais et de l'anglais, and in none of them is n'est-

ce pas appropriate. However, I have a student doing some work in Reedsville,

and her findings so far are more ambiguous.

Concerning ain'a, this form does occur in east central Wisconsin and the Door

Peninsula. Our recently retired purchasing agent, who is Walloon (but doesn't

speak Walloon French), uses it along with ain' so. But I haven't done anything

systematic with ain'a.

My father (Madisonville KY) used to say idn'it, but then he said bidness

instead of business too--some sort of z-- d rule, I guess--when he wasn't

careful. And a colleague of mine from southern Illinois named his cat "Bidness"

and has the same feature in his speech.

Thanks for the comments.