Ain't but one way to get to his house: That's by boat

JungKim

Senior Member
Korean
An L.A. Times article titled "Louisiana town was flooded six months ago. Now the water is back, even higher, and rescues continue" has this:
Aydell, 64, a retired state worker, grew up in this Cajun village settled by his ancestors as a Spanish land grant in 1809. Now his home sits surrounded by a lake.

"I can't get in until probably tomorrow," Aydell said as he conferred with neighbors at the St. Joseph Catholic Church hall, a makeshift donation center, soup kitchen and temporary shelter.

"Ain't but one way to get to his house: That's by boat," said Deacon Jimmy Little, 72, as state fish and wildlife officers nearby prepared to set out by boat delivering food to those still stranded.
The boldfaced portion, I think, means "There's only one way to get to his house". Right?
If so, how does "ain't but" mean "There's only" here?
 
  • sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes, "ain't" means "isn't", but Copyright is right about the meaning of the phrase "Ain't but one way to get to his house". It's regional/dialectal speech and you have to consider "ain't but" as a whole.
     
    Last edited:

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Is it possible to think of the phrase as an ellipsis of the following sentence?
    There ain't nothing/anything but one way to get to his house.
    Where nothing or anything is left out.
     
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