"I says"

Peter A. McGraw pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU
Thu Apr 4 17:56:02 UTC 2002

I first encountered "I says" as one of the things I noticed about rural
speech when my family moved from So. California to a farm in Oregon in the
early 50s.  I've always assumed it's U.S.-rural as opposed to
U.S.-regional.  It's most definitely not restricted to Cockney.

That doesn't provide the kind of data you're looking for, I know.  The only
written attestation that I remember running across was a passage in either
Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn.  It's a snatch of dialog in which a rural
Missouri woman is recounting a conversation with another woman. I'm not
sure "I says" occurs there in exactly this form; I specifically remember
only the inverted variants "S'z I" and "Sh'she" (spelled representation not

Peter Mc.

--On Thursday, April 4, 2002 12:33 PM -0500 Benjamin Fortson
<fortson at FAS.HARVARD.EDU> wrote:

> "I says" is extremely common at least in the Northeast US, in my
> experience. "So I says to him, I says..." is practically formulaic, and
> has (to my ears) a working-class feel.
>         Maybe someone else has data on its distribution.
> Ben

                               Peter A. McGraw
                   Linfield College   *   McMinnville, OR
                            pmcgraw at linfield.edu

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