Halfdan wrote:That's the kind of thing you send in a PM
Or, preferably, not at all.
To confirm the OP's hypothesis, we need some data on the spread of aren't I?
. Does it postdate the loss of rhoticity (which begins in the 15th century but doesn't gain a foothold in the standard language until the 18th) and does it occur initially in non-rhotic areas (e.g. southeast England) spreading outward from there to other varieties? I imagine the latter is probably true, since aren't I?
is an artefact of the standard language and its rejection of both ain't
. And, according to the OED, the first attestation for aren't I?
is 1798, but without the full text, I can't tell if the speaker is supposed to be an educated one or not.
My chief objection to the hypothesis is that I don't know of any dialect in which nonrhotic /ar/ has the same vowel quality as /æ/. But there's a lot I don't know about the historical dialectology of England.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons