The “Ask” VS “Ax” divide is laden with class and racial division and has been used to deny people, both white and black, access to better jobs and resources based on a perception of low intelligence.

The pronunciation using “ax” has a very long history. The “ax” pronunciation has been the standard for over a thousand years. It is a regular feature of the English language that began as far back as the eighth century.

It’s in the first complete English translation of the Bible from 1535, (the Coverdale Bible): ” ‘Axe and it shall be given.’

Many books up to the 19th-century use the pronunciation “Ax” and it’s still heard in parts of Britain today. The verb is part of the original English language and had two basic forms, “ascian” and “acsian.” During the Middle English period (1100-1500), the latter form (“acsian”) became “axsian” and finally “ax” (or “axe”), which was the accepted written form until about 1600.

In the early 17th century, “ask” started to replaced “ax.” The spelling changed and the consonant sounds were switched but the old pronunciation is still used in some parts of the world.

Oxford English Dictionary:

Definition of ax in English:
ax
(also aks)
non-standard form of ask
VERB
West Indian dialect

with object ‘I’m axing plenty question’
with object and clause ‘I axed him if he wanted some company’
no object ‘she axed about Mama’

Pronunciation: ax/aks/

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