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Will not just won't!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Lotg (OZ) on August 08, 2004

I was reading a story written by our 11 year-old, when I noticed a common weakness throughout. She didn't seem to understand the purpose of apostrophes in certain words. eg. She included words such as "did'nt, would'nt, could'nt, wo'nt".

I thought the easiest way to explain that she was putting her apostrophes in the wrong place, was to say that these are simply shortened versions of... did not, would not, could not and will not, and that the apostrophe replaced the missing vowel, in these cases, the 'o'.

Suddenly I saw light dawn and I was well pleased - until she asked me the curly one. How is that "won't" replaces "will not"? Shouldn't it be 'willn't'. Hmmmm.... good point I thought. Apart from the fact that willn't would be quite difficult to pronounce, I have no idea.

I considered that it might have evolved from "would not", except that "won't" doesn't mean that, and "wouldn't" already handles it anyway.

So can anyone explain the evolution that produced the word "won't"?