Yes vs. I am

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OHIO.EDU
Fri Mar 24 17:03:05 UTC 2006

I wouldn't necessarily put John Travolta in this category, but I've noticed
that he uses "I am" and related usages when he's on talk shows (well, Letterman
is the only one I watch). It fits with his brisk, semi-formal, dressed up
persona; he gives off an air of authority, real or feigned. Maybe it's a
Hollywood, or at least California, thing?

Quoting Matthew Gordon <gordonmj at MISSOURI.EDU>:

> I haven't noticed this particularly, but it wouldn't surprise me if
> some
> 'educated' people came to favor this usage especially in relatively
> formal
> contexts. After all, prescriptivist usage guides routinely define a
> sentence
> as the expression of a complete thought. Thus, answering a question
> with "I
> am." would be preferred to the incomplete "yes" by this logic.
> -Matt Gordon
> On 3/24/06 9:52 AM, "Roger Shuy" <rshuy at MONTANA.COM> wrote:
> > I've been absent from the List for a few months so I apologize if
> this topic
> > already has been discussed.
> >
> > Has anyone else noticed what seems to me to be a turn toward
> answering
> > yes/no questions with "I am," "I will," "I'm not," and "I won't" as
> opposed
> > to "Yes" or "No." Not even "Yes I am," "Yes I will," "No  I'm not,"
> or "No I
> > won't." I have no hard data to back this impression but I believe I
> am
> > hearing it used mostly by relatively educated people in a wide
> range of
> > contexts. Has anyone else sensed this?
> >
> > Roger Shuy
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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