axe you a question

aigle491

Member
USA English, Russian
I have come across many people saying this phrase: "I'm gonna axe you a question" This might be that certain people do not know the English language but I'm curious on what this means..What does this mean?...
...your comments are welcome
 
  • Edwin

    Senior Member
    USA / Native Language: English
    aigle491 said:
    I have come across many people saying this phrase: "I'm gonna axe you a question" This might be that certain people do not know the English language but I'm curious on what this means..What does this mean?...
    ...your comments are welcome

    It's a dialect of English called Ebonics. See for example:

    http://www.panikon.com/phurba/morph.html

    I'm curious, aigle491. Your native language is English and you live in Philadelphia and you don't know what Ebonics is? How can that be?
     

    aigle491

    Member
    USA English, Russian
    thank you very much...i'm not confused anymore

    Yes but I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia...and axe you a question is not very common...I'm sure I will hear it alot in the very near future.
     

    Ralf

    Senior Member
    German
    You can find expressions like that quite frequently, for instance in novels or short stories by William Faulkner when quoting blacks (I hope it's not a racist term).
    Have a nice sunday
     

    David

    Banned
    This is a serious question that deserves a better answer than "It´s Ebonics." Every language has regional and ethnic dialectical differences, which is why a Scot and a Pakistani pronounce English very differently. Axe is definitely non-standard, but typical of ordinary African American working class pronunciation.

    The term Ebonics was coined by people who believed that African American children would do better in American schools if their dialect were recognized as a perfectly legitimate dialect of American English, with its own vocabulary and grammar, and that it should be given a name and be taught as such. Others believe that all schools in this country should teach only standard American English and that it should be obligatory for every public official (except the ignoramus in the White House, of course) to speak only standard English. Views differ on what is the best tack to take in education, but often, nowadays, Ebonics is used sarcastically as a term to indicate contempt for African American pronunciations, as opposed to Irish-American or Cowboy (official in the White House) or French, obligatory for maîtres d'hotel (whether or not they speak French), which, for obvious reasons are considered legitimate and cute. Ukrainians or Catalans or Moroccans, whose local languages probably differ from that of the régimes under which they have lived at one time or another will have no trouble understanding why some people believe that different is not necessarily bad. I believe, incidentally, that its fine to speak dialect in some contexts, but that schools should also prepare kids to speak and write the standard versions of the languages of their countries. I think most people would agree.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    David said:
    This is a serious question that deserves a better answer than "It´s Ebonics." Every language has regional and ethnic dialectical differences, which is why a Scot and a Pakistani pronounce English very differently. Axe is definitely non-standard, but typical of ordinary African American working class pronunciation.

    The term Ebonics was coined by people who believed that African American children would do better in American schools if their dialect were recognized as a perfectly legitimate dialect of American English, with its own vocabulary and grammar, and that it should be given a name and be taught as such. Others believe that all schools in this country should teach only standard American English and that it should be obligatory for every public official (except the ignoramus in the White House, of course) to speak only standard English. Views differ on what is the best tack to take in education, but often, nowadays, Ebonics is used sarcastically as a term to indicate contempt for African American pronunciations, as opposed to Irish-American or Cowboy (official in the White House) or French, obligatory for maîtres d'hotel (whether or not they speak French), which, for obvious reasons are considered legitimate and cute. Ukrainians or Catalans or Moroccans, whose local languages probably differ from that of the régimes under which they have lived at one time or another will have no trouble understanding why some people believe that different is not necessarily bad. I believe, incidentally, that its fine to speak dialect in some contexts, but that schools should also prepare kids to speak and write the standard versions of the languages of their countries. I think most people would agree.

    I completely agree, David. I'm curious, though: what is the minority language in Morocco? I believe there are Berbers there who speak their own language but I was under the impression most Moroccons are Arab...what I'm trying to say is that those who speak Berber aren't even Arab, so it's not quite the same as African-Americans in America, who are also Americans, or Catalans in Spain, who are also Spaniards. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
     

    Edwin

    Senior Member
    USA / Native Language: English
    David said:
    This is a serious question that deserves a better answer than "It´s Ebonics."

    [snip]

    I believe, incidentally, that its fine to speak dialect in some contexts, but that schools should also prepare kids to speak and write the standard versions of the languages of their countries. I think most people would agree.

    David, I agree that schools should teach students to speak standard English. I saw a program on TV recently showing a successful method of teaching standard English to students whose first language is ''Ebonics''. The idea was to do this without showing disrespect for the way they learned to speak at home and in their neighborhoods. I was really impressed by the teacher's technique for doing this in the segment shown. He would say something like, ''He axed me to do it.'' or ''What you be doing.'' and then ask the students if it was standard English and if not how to convert it to standard English. The students seemed to enjoy it. They were all smiles and the ones that were called on did an excellent job expressing the phrases in standard English. I though it was excellent the way that the teacher accomplished his goals without belittling the students. Great teaching!

    By saying ''It's Ebonics'', I just wanted to say that there are a large number of people that use such language, without being disparaging. I was also, perhaps wrongly, suspicious that the questioner was trying to pull our leg. It seemed strange to me that a native English speaker in a large city such as Philadelphia (where there are undoubtedly many Ebonics speakers) would not know this. Apparently aigle491 is very young and lives in a neighborhood where such language is rarely heard as suggested by the reply.
     

    aigle491

    Member
    USA English, Russian
    ah yes...the suberbs of Philly. In fact in day to day talk I use some Ebonics, but that one phrase I found quite unusuall and I did not know what it meant. I wasn't sure if it was Ebonics or perhaps it was a slang term used to say ASKed you question with a hidden meaning...

    THANKS TO EVERYBODY!!
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    aigle491 said:
    I have come across many people saying this phrase: "I'm gonna axe you a question" This might be that certain people do not know the English language but I'm curious on what this means..What does this mean?...
    ...your comments are welcome

    This is an example of metathesis where two consonants are swapped over.

    Another example is Latin periculum becoming Spanish peligro. (l and r swapped). so axe = ask with s and k swapped.
     

    jaNelle

    Member
    English
    Artrella said:
    Hi Edwin! That link is great! I didn't know this existed, I thought it was just mispelling or mispronunciation!! :)
    well for some people it is a mispronunciation. some people can spell the word ask fine but just cant say it. i know this is true for quite a few people i know who say axe you a question
     

    Edher

    Senior Member
    USA
    Cd. de México, Spanish & English
    Hello,

    Furthermore, it is quite redondant to say "ask a question." Unless you're willing to ask an answer :) . By saying "ask" you're already implying that it is going to be a question. I think it's better to say "Can I ask you something?" For those Spanish speakers out there, how embarrased would you get if "te puedo preguntar una pregunta" was to slip out of your mouth.

    Edher
     

    Nick

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Edher said:
    Furthermore, it is quite redondant to say "ask a question."
    Well, no. They could be asking for a favor or something else.

    Can I ask you for something? (== give me an object, please)
    Can I ask a favor of you? (== do something for me, please)
    Can I ask you to repeat that?
     

    Edwin

    Senior Member
    USA / Native Language: English
    Edher said:
    Furthermore, it is quite redondant to say "ask a question." Unless you're willing to ask an answer :) . By saying "ask" you're already implying that it is going to be a question. I think it's better to say "Can I ask you something?" For those Spanish speakers out there, how embarrased would you get if "te puedo preguntar una pregunta" was to slip out of your mouth.

    Nevertheless, people still ask questions all the time and will continue to do so. Especially in these fora. :)

    I imagine the translation of hacer una pregunta is ask a question. It is certainly not ''make a question.''

    It is also redundant to say ''no tengo nada'', but that's correct Spanish. There's nothing wrong with redundancy. In fact, much of natural speech is redundant. That's what makes it possible to understand somebody when you only hear 1/2 of what they say. Most uses of gender, tenses, number, articles are purely redundant.
     

    Tobycek

    Senior Member
    England, English
    This use of "axe" is not confined to America. It's common among many West Indian patois, and can be found in any British city which has or has had a large West Indian population.
    E.g.
    "Mi kyaant understand why im no aks me fe coom and get im..."
     

    Edher

    Senior Member
    USA
    Cd. de México, Spanish & English
    Nick said:
    Well, no. They could be asking for a favor or something else.

    Can I ask you for something? (== give me an object, please)
    Can I ask a favor of you? (== do something for me, please)
    Can I ask you to repeat that?


    Can I ask you something? Would you please pick that up?
    Can I ask you something? Would you please let me borrow a dollar?
    Can I ask you something? When are you going to cut that hair?

    The highlighted are all still questions, are they not?

    Edher
     

    te gato

    Senior Member
    Alberta--TGE (te gato English)
    Hi all;

    Saying ..May I / can I ask you a question...is just being polite...and where I come frome there is nothing wrong with that..

    You might want an answer to a question that the person might find offensive...or..you might be intruding on some private issue...or..you might just say that so they think about giving you an answer...yadda, yadda..

    There have only been a FEW instances where I have said..May I ask you a question..that I have not been answered...but then that might have something to do with that persons character...

    te gato;)
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Edher said:
    Hello,

    Furthermore, it is quite redondant to say "ask a question." Unless you're willing to ask an answer :) . By saying "ask" you're already implying that it is going to be a question. I think it's better to say "Can I ask you something?" For those Spanish speakers out there, how embarrased would you get if "te puedo preguntar una pregunta" was to slip out of your mouth.

    Edher
    It may be logically redundant, but language is not math. What do you suggest we use to replace this simple English sentence:

    "May I ask you a question?"

    If you are saying that there is anything wrong with the sentence above, I have to strongly disagree with you. :)

    Gaer
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Edwin said:
    Nevertheless, people still ask questions all the time and will continue to do so. Especially in these fora. :)

    I imagine the translation of hacer una pregunta is ask a question. It is certainly not ''make a question.''

    It is also redundant to say ''no tengo nada'', but that's correct Spanish. There's nothing wrong with redundancy. In fact, much of natural speech is redundant. That's what makes it possible to understand somebody when you only hear 1/2 of what they say. Most uses of gender, tenses, number, articles are purely redundant.
    I was going to say much the same thing, but you beat me to it.

    "Eine Frage stellen" is literally "to put/place" a question. No matter where you look you will find the translation: "To ask a question." :)

    Gaer
     

    Edher

    Senior Member
    USA
    Cd. de México, Spanish & English
    gaer said:
    It may be logically redundant, but language is not math. What do you suggest we use to replace this simple English sentence:

    "May I ask you a question?"

    If you are saying that there is anything wrong with the sentence above, I have to strongly disagree with you. :)

    Gaer

    Of course "May I ask you a question" isn't incorrect. You have the right to be redundant if you choose to. I would suggest "May I ask you something?"

    Edher
     

    te gato

    Senior Member
    Alberta--TGE (te gato English)
    Edher said:
    Of course "May I ask you a question" isn't incorrect. You have the right to be redundant if you choose to. I would suggest "May I ask you something?"

    Edher
    Edher;

    Good Morning....
    May I ask you a question?..:D

    'May I ask you a question?/ask you something?'..have the same meaning..as we have agreed...
    If you were to say both of these sentences to people they would understand you...
    So I guess it all boils down to how the individual wishes to say it...
    I personaly do not consider 'ask you a question' redundant...
    but then again I am from the land of odd...

    te gato;)
     

    lainyn

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    My thoughts:

    The pronunciation of "ask" as "axe" is most definitely an example of metathesis in child speech as well. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the impetus for such a pronunciation in both "Ebonics" and child speech is to make the word easier to pronounce. To go from an alveolar fricative to a velar stop is apparently more taxing than the reverse.

    ~Lainyn
     

    leenico

    Senior Member
    U.S.A. english
    well for some people it is a mispronunciation. some people can spell the word ask fine but just cant say it. i know this is true for quite a few people i know who say axe you a question
    Some people know full well the pronunciation. They speak like that because they think it's cool. :cool:
     

    te gato

    Senior Member
    Alberta--TGE (te gato English)
    garryknight said:
    "May I ask you a question?"
    "Yes, sure."
    "Where are you going?"
    "That makes two questions."
    ;)

    Like I said..I come from the land of odd...
    I just consider it polite...
    I would not use it in all instances...but for some I would...

    te gato;)
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    lainyn said:
    My thoughts:

    The pronunciation of "ask" as "axe" is most definitely an example of metathesis in child speech as well. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the impetus for such a pronunciation in both "Ebonics" and child speech is to make the word easier to pronounce. To go from an alveolar fricative to a velar stop is apparently more taxing than the reverse.

    ~Lainyn
    Strangely enough, I find "may I axe you" more difficult to pronounce than "may I ask you" (I've just been trying several times :D ). But it's probably because I'm french or because I'm used to saying "ask".
    Anyway, in most cases, you're right, lainyn
    Young french children often say "dix" instead of "disque" (disc)
    or "pestacle" instead of "spectacle" (show)

    And one more thing : I've being using metathesis for a long time without knowing the name for it. Some people (including I) do that a lot in France, but just for fun (nothing to be connected with any regionalism or ethnic accent).

    Jean-Chimel...er, sorry
    Jean-Michel ;)
     

    errata

    New Member
    United States
    Don't believe it has anything to do with "Ebonics." It is simply a Southern regionalism. When African American left the old Confederacy and moved north, they simply took their Southern dialect with them. In the rural South, among poor Whites, "axed," is still standard, although because of the general homogenizing of the language brought about as an effect of a national media, "axed," has been losing ground to the Middle American Standard, "asked."
    Errata
     

    Randisi.

    Senior Member
    American English; USA
    Quite right, Errata.

    Doesn't "axe" also inhabit the American Midwest regions of non-Ebonic English?

    (I find myself sometimes saying it by accident and my accent is Californian, influenced by New Jersey metropolitan and central Pennsylvanian.)
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    I have come across many people saying this phrase: "I'm gonna axe you a question" This might be that certain people do not know the English language but I'm curious on what this means..What does this mean?...
    ...your comments are welcome

    Axe is variant of ask.

    Both forms ask and aks were around in the days of Old English, but ask became the standard form.

    As Wikipedia says: "The process has shaped many English words historically. Bird in English was once bryd, run was once irnan, horse was hros, wasp is also recorded as wæps and hasp, hæps. The discrepancy between the spelling of iron and the usual pronunciation is the result of metathesis."
     

    errata

    New Member
    United States
    Ah, yes. . . but if the case was that simple, why are we still hearing "axed?" Obviously the matter is not quite settled if we find competing forms of the same word in the same population. "Asked," may well be the dominant form currently in the United States, but "axed," is not dead yet, although it is suffering from declining social acceptance.
     

    errata

    New Member
    United States
    Randisi, actually, you may have Southern ancestry. Much of California was settled by Southerners, and it may just be that the occasional slip to "axed," could be a mild reminder of your real roots. Or possibly not :) I wouldn't worry too much about it. Friends and family will still love you.
     

    Randisi.

    Senior Member
    American English; USA
    You may be right, Errata. My father is from Tennessee, though you wouldn't know it from hearing him. Nevertheless it is occasionally detectable.
     
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