“Ain’t” does not exist. It ain’t there. It ain’t used. It ain’t been around ever. I know this because when I punch in those four letters, two of which are nicely separated by an apostrophe, my spellchecker lights up that jagged red line underneath, a measure generally taken to indicate one of two things: I have written the word incorrectly or tried a word that does not exist in the language. This is what happens to “ain’t”. Now, I know the former is not the case, because there is no other way to spell that word, so we must be before the second option: It does not exist.
The problem is, it does. And it is widespread in some parts of the English-speaking world. So to underline it is a mistake because that is certainly how you spell it. The people at Word Office know this too.
Therefore, we come to a very different and surprising revelation. The makers of Microsoft want us to pretend the ill-fated word simply does not live among us. Just because many people find its use vulgar, non-standard, plain wrong, does not mean its existence is any less. “Y’all” is pretty informal, clearly non-standard, and often associated with backwardness (I don’t share that sentiment, mind you), but for some reason, the word processor hasn’t got a problem with that. “Fuck” is a pretty vulgar term too. How many of you just thought, “Oh, Brian, it wasn’t necessary to use that word.”? Just my point. But it’s not underlined because fuck does exist and that is how you spell it: f-u-c-k. Don’t worry, I am only using this word to illustrate a very important sociolinguistic issue.
It’s a small point but with a serious message: It ain’t right to censor ain’t just because someone out there doesn’t f***** like it.