Literary Karaoke

The Best of The Week

Ain't ain't a word, and you ain't gonna use it.


This is a line I remember from my childhood, a line that embodies the odd feelings we English-speakers have towards this little word. This sentence is itself amusing, as it quite plainly contradicts itself, bringing to mind the self-referential sentences like This sentence is false explored by, among many others, Douglas Hofstadter (the reader is referred to the book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid.) But I digress. This usage commandment is quite a witty little line, as the contradiction therein illustrates so well people's feelings about the word: it is a word, as is evidenced quite plainly by its use in the sentence — and yet it ain't, and it certainly ain't appropriate for anyone with any modicum of intelligence or education. You are commanded not to use the word ain't — and yet…

"After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the nonexistence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it -

Spanish Dancer

My dad taught me and my siblings and the neighbor kid this rhyme when we were still small enough to think of jump rope as fun, rather than a grueling exercise in futility.

Not last night but the night before
twenty four robbers came knocking at my door.
As I ran out, they ran in, I asked them what they wanted
and this is what they said:
"Spanish dancer turn around"
(here you turned around while still jumping)
"Spanish dancer…