Reader Email

why do black people always say axed when they mean ASKED. Im convinced they know how to really say it but dont because they think its now part of the culture.


Well Ethan, that’s because it is part of our culture. Sometimes people — regardless of race — use shortcut words or improperly pronounce words based solely on laziness. Like sometimes I catch my girl saying “fidgerator” instead of “refridgerator” and I myself often times say “innanet” instead of “internet”. These types of slip-ups are purely the work of phonetic laziness and have no bearing on history or culture.

But it seems as if you’ve stumbled upon a long untold black people secret here, Ethan. You’re truly a pioneer for white people for having the bravery to even suggest that “ax” is an African American cultural phenomenon. I remember when I was six. My dad had just gotten a new job and I wanted to know exactly what he did for a living. So I walked up to all 6’3″, 220lbs of him as a child and said, “Dad, can I ask you a question?”

He slapped me right across the face.

“It’s ‘ax’, not ‘ask’. White people have been trying to program us for years to talk like they do. They’ve got brothers all around the country saying words like ‘enthusiastically’ and ‘horticulture’. But they’ll never get ‘ax’ from us, you hear? You hold onto that word and hold it tight, for there were many generations before you that died…or more often were rudely corrected for using that word. It’s ‘ax’, son. Ax.”

And that was the first time I was confronted with the truth about ax. So yes, Ethan, we know the proper pronunciation. But I’ll be goddamned if I ever say it.