Pardner, I am hopeful that you are fixing to answer my question.
May 9, 2012 7:52 AM Subscribe
When did the use of contractions become common in American English and/or when did the absence of contractions become an (accurate or not) shorthand for outdated diction?
posted by Admiral Haddock to writing & language (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I am thinking in particular of any number of (mostly recent) depictions of the American Old West (e.g., the Red Dead Redemption video game, There Will Be Blood, True Grit)--though I don't think I've heard it in spaghetti westerns (Fistful of Dollars, G/B/U, For a Few Dollars More, etc.).
Part of this is surely confirmation bias, and I don't think those media are exclusively without contractions. But there is a particular nuance in something like "I do not reckon that I am able to help you, stranger" (or whatever, and obviously, we don't "reckon" much these days).
Is this absence of contractions a recent invention to represent the Old West? When did contractions become commonplace in American English? Did some contractions enter at a different time than others ("I'm" versus "Don't", for example)?