VS in dialog

James Harbeck jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA
Sun Jan 6 03:47:30 UTC 2008

The VS version is, to my ears, a hallmark of a narrative style. You
get it in stories, notably (but not exclusively) children's stories,
and it may be used on speech on occasion when the speaker wishes to
take on (perhaps ironically) that register for the moment.

There are uses of it where we wish to put the speaker in a more
focused position, typically with a somewhat (if not overly) snide
tone, and we often tag it onto something someone else has said:

Person A: I'm really trying to be environmentally friendly.
Person B: ...Said the guy who owns three SUVs.

(This only works if Person A actually does own three SUVs, of course;
the characterization needs to be accurate for this idiom to work.)

I think that this is borrowing on the narrative style, too.

But in normal speech, it would sound a little odd, I'd think, at
least where I'm from. Characteristic of a nonnative speaker, perhaps.

Overall, though, I think your Swedish friend pretty much has it right.

James Harbeck.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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