Posted by Smokey Stover on December 20, 2007
In Reply to: Aren't I right posted by Geoff Harrop on December 20, 2007
: Bit of grammar really :- Why is 'aren't I right' used when 'amn't I not right' is more consistent? We say 'am I not?' not 'are I not?'
It's because we want to use a nice,one-syllable contraction, and "ain't" is not available, even though it's the logical choice. And "aren't" starts with "a."
Well, what's wrong with "an't"? That was sometimes used in the 18th century for both "am not" and "are not." The use of "aren't" for "am not" has doubtless gone on for a long time, which is why it was complained about in this citation from the OED:
"1907 LADY GROVE Social Fetich 38 If 'ain't I?' is objected to, surely 'aren't I?' is very much worse."
In both Britain and America, "is not" got contracted not only to "isn't," but even further, to "i'n't," as in "i'n't it awful?"