Date: Tue, 29 Oct 1996 11:03:18 -0500


Subject: don't -Forwarded

E.W.Gilman sent me privately a long list of citations of "don't" with

3rd-singular subject spanning many centuries. With permission, I am

forwarding it to the list.

Mark A. Mandel : mark[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

Dragon Systems, Inc. : speech recognition : +1 617 965-5200

320 Nevada St., Newton, MA 02160, USA :

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From: "E. W. Gilman" egilman[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

Organization: Merriam-Webster, Inc.


Date: Tue, 29 Oct 1996 11:04:13 +0000

Subject: don't

Reply-To: egilman[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

Priority: normal

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There"s a pretty good backgrounder on 3d person singular don't in

MWDEU. I have been collecting stuff ever since, and besides the

examples shown there I have:

Samuel Johnson: the wolf don't count the sheep

John Adams (1779): the World dont know this

Charles Dickens (1842): he is an ass and an imposter and clearly don't

know anything at all about it

Edward Lear (1851):that don't mend the mastter

Herman Melville (1876): See if Kate dont agree with me

Louisa May Alcott (1869): Theodore Tilton, who dont seem to be grown

up yet

Abraham Lincoln (1848): they think our candidate for the Presidency

dont suit us

Mark Twain (1856): But that don't suit me

H. Rider Haggard (1904): he don't drive himself

Rudyard Kipling (1923): Paul don't see

George Bernard Shaw (1926): and HE don't matter

Louisa May Alcott also used doesn't in her letters, but don't more

often. So even in the US the prestige of 3d person singular don't

was not completely gone until the end of the 19th century, and it

hung in in British English for quite a while longer. Doesn't has now

been dated back to around 1675, but it didn't catch on very quickly,

and it took the schoolmarms a half centry or more to install it in

place of don't in American usage.