"I says"

Richard Gage rgage at INTRAH.ORG
Thu Apr 4 20:02:17 UTC 2002

Grant Barrett wrote:
 > On 4/4/02 10:16, "Catherine Jagoe" <cjagoe at TDS.NET> wrote:

 >> The publisher has insisted on standardizing
 >> not only most of the language itself...

 >Sounds like a good way to kill a book.

=== Sounds like a good way to kill a lot of great books ===

AND Peter A. McGraw wrote:
 > The only written attestation that I remember running across
 > was a passage in either Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn.

=== "I says", "says I" and other variants appear in both _Huck Finn_
and _Tom Sawyer_, as well as in the works of Bret Harte and other
American authors.  Here's some of what an iBiblio-Gutenberg Project
search turned up: ===


["I says" and "says I"]:
< ftp://ftp.ibiblio.org/pub/docs/books/gutenberg/etext93/sawyr10.txt >

[Muff Potter speaking]:
"You've been mighty good to me, boys -- better'n any-
body else in this town. And I don't forget it, I don't.
Often I says to myself, says I, 'I used to mend all the
boys' kites and things, and show 'em where the good
fishin' places was, and befriend 'em what I could, and
now they've all forgot old Muff when he's in trouble;
but Tom don't, and Huck don't -- THEY don't forget him,
says I, 'and I don't forget them.' Well, boys, I done
an awful thing -- drunk and crazy at the time -- that's
the only way I account for it -- and now I got to swing
for it, and it's right. Right, and BEST, too, I reckon --
hope so, anyway. Well, we won't talk about that. I
don't want to make YOU feel bad; you've befriended me.
But what I want to say, is, don't YOU ever get drunk --
then you won't ever get here.

["I says" and "says I"]:
MARK TWAIN _Huckleberry Finn_ CHAPTER III para. 2
< ftp://ftp.ibiblio.org/pub/docs/books/gutenberg/etext93/hfinn10.txt >

I set down one time back in the woods, and had a
long think about it. I says to myself, if a body can
get anything they pray for, why don't Deacon Winn
get back the money he lost on pork? Why can't the
widow get back her silver snuffbox that was stole?
Why can't Miss Watson fat up? No, says I to my
self, there ain't nothing in it. I went and told the
widow about it, and she said the thing a body could
get by praying for it was "spiritual gifts." This was
too many for me, but she told me what she meant -- I
must help other people, and do everything I could for
other people, and look out for them all the time, and
never think about myself. This was including Miss
Watson, as I took it. I went out in the woods and
turned it over in my mind a long time, but I couldn't
see no advantage about it -- except for the other peo-
ple; so at last I reckoned I wouldn't worry about it
any more, but just let it go.

["I sez" and "sez I"]:
BRET HARTE "Devil's Ford" page 30

"Partly promiskuss, and partly coincident, Miss Christie, one up
and t'other down," said Dick lightly. "Work being slack at present
at Devil's Ford, I reck'ned I'd take a pasear down to 'Frisco, and
dip into the vortex o' fash'nable society and out again." He
lightly waved a new handkerchief to illustrate his swallow-like
intrusion. "This yer minglin' with the bo-tong is apt to be
wearisome, ez you and me knows, unless combined with experience and
judgment. So when them boys up there allows that there's a little
too much fash'nable society and San Francisco capital and high-
falutin' about the future goin' on fer square surface mining, I
sez, 'Look yere, gentlemen,' sez I, 'you don't see the pint. The
pint is to get the pop'lar eye fixed, so to speak, on Devil's Ford.
When a fash'nable star rises above the 'Frisco horizon--like Miss
Carr--and, so to speak, dazzles the gineral eye, people want to
know who she is. And when people say that's the accomplished
daughter o' the accomplished superintendent of the Devil's Ford
claim--otherwise known as the Star-eyed Goddess o' Devil's Ford--
every eye is fixed on the mine, and Capital, so to speak, tumbles
to her.' And when they sez that the old man--excuse my freedom,
but that's the way the boys talk of your father, meaning no harm--
the old man, instead o' trying to corral rich widders--grass or
otherwise--to spend their money on the big works for the gold that
ain't there yet--should stay in Devil's Ford and put all his sabe
and genius into grindin' out the little gold that is there, I sez
to them that it ain't your father's style. 'His style,' sez I, 'ez
to go in and build them works.' When they're done he turns round
to Capital, and sez he--'Look yer,' sez he, 'thar's all the works
you want, first quality--cost a million; thar's all the water you
want, onlimited--cost another million; thar's all the pay gravel
you want in and outer the ground--call it two millions more. Now
my time's too vally'ble; my professhun's too high-toned to WORK
mines. I MAKE 'em. Hand me over a check for ten millions and call
it square, and work it for yourself.' So Capital hands over the
money and waltzes down to run the mine, and you original locators
walks round with yer hands in yer pockets a-top of your six million
profit, and you let's Capital take the work and the responsibility."

["I sez"]:
ELLEN GLASGOW _The Deliverance; A Romance of the Virginia Tobacco

"You des wait, Miss Cynthy, you des wait twel I git dar,"
remonstrated Uncle Isam, as he stirred his coffee. "I ain' got no
use fur dese yer newfangle fashions, dot's wat I tell de chillun
w'en dey begin a-pesterin' me ter mah'y Eve--I ain' got no use
fur dem no way hit's put--I ain' got no use fur dis yer struttin'
up de aisle bus'ness, ner fur dis yer w'arin' er sto'-made shoes,
ner fur dis yer leavin' er de hyar unwropped, needer. Hit looks
pisonous tickly ter me, days wat I sez, but w'en dey keep up dey
naggin' day in en day out, en I carn' git shunt er um, I hop
right up en put on my Sunday bes' en go 'long wid 'em ter de
chu'ch--me en Eve bofe a-mincin' des like peacocks. 'You des pay
de preacher,' days wat I tell 'em, 'en I'se gwine do all de
mah'yin' days ter be done'; en w'en de preacher done got thoo wid
me en Eve, I stood right up in de chu'ch an axed ef dey wus any
udder nigger 'ooman es 'ud like ter do a little mah'yin'? 'Hit's
es easy ter mah'y a dozen es ter mah'y one,' I holler out."

After a while, though, I nudged Bill hack to the Clarenden family
trail, an' he said 'at they had stopped for over a month with his
friends in England, an' was posted up to the minute.

"Well," sez I, as though I was inquirin' after an old pal, how's the

"They're plumb out o' earls in that family," sez Bill. "The old
one's dead an' they've hunted high an' low for the strays an' can't
even find Richard."

More information about the Ads-l mailing list