"I says"

Mark A Mandel mam at THEWORLD.COM
Thu Apr 4 15:43:45 UTC 2002

On Thu, 4 Apr 2002, Catherine Jagoe wrote:

# The publisher has insisted on standardizing not only most of the
#language itself but also argues that the use of “I says” is
#inappropriate because it sounds like London Cockney dialect, which
#would be inappropriate for a Buenos Aires resident from the 1970s. I’m
#convinced that “I says” is not limited to Cockney, and that I’ve heard
#it used widely both in the UK and the USA, but I have no documentation
#on that and no idea of how to go about researching it.

#Can anyone tell me about the distribution and usage of “I says”?  Are
#there any other similar expressions that might accompany this usage?

"I says" is very common in US English in informal narration. A made-up

"So he says to me, 'How do you know he did it?', and I says, 'I was
there. I *saw* him do it!'"

Of course, here "says" also replaces the higher-register "said" in the
third person as well as the first.

It suggests an uneducated speaker, although IMHO it's so well
established in this register that a person who would never use it in
more formal circumstances might use it comfortably in the right

-- Mark A. Mandel, Ph.D., d/b/a Dr. Whom
   editing, proofreading, and linguistic consultation

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