In "A Jury of Her Peers" by Susan Glaspell, there is a usage of "I says" in several sentences. Is it a kind of talk of villagers or what?

Two examples are:

"I got up, with the idea of going up there myself. By this time I--didn't know what to do. I walked from there to here; then I says: 'Why, what did he die of?'

"We come along this road," Hale was going on, with a motion of his hand to the road over which they had just come, "and as we got in sight of the house I says to Harry,

  • 1
    It's the way rural people may talk in Iowa, so, yes, the talk of villagers. Nov 16 '20 at 19:45
  • 6
    Never, in standard English.
    – Colin Fine
    Nov 16 '20 at 21:34
  • Note also the ‘We come’, where standard English would have ‘We came’ or ‘We've come’.
    – gidds
    Nov 18 '20 at 8:58

It is a dialect, and generally considered to be a "lower class" one. It is not something to be copied (it will be treated as a mistake).

I've heard it used both as a "West (of England) country" accent, and as part of a cockney accent, so it's not very distinctively country.

It is also used as a dialect in parts of the USA. Again it is considered to be low class. The particular context of the story is set in Iowa 100 years ago, when it was even more rural than it is now.

  • 1
    Note that in old dialog, you can sometimes see it written as "I sez" or even "Sez I" This reflects the pronunciation. In this song (called Sez I), you can hear her sing, "Out of my way! sez I" youtu.be/L0JcSWEhvqY?t=107 - The others sing "Says who?" and the woman replies, "Says (sez) I" They are all Americans imitating an Irish accent! Nov 16 '20 at 21:36
  • 1
    My sister and I, when we were smart pre-teens, laughed ourselves to tears over a panel in our comic which had a road workman not paying attention to what he's doing with his pneumatic drill because he's deep in conversation with a colleague, saying: "So I sez to 'im, 'Arry, I sez ..." Having been brought up in a household where language snobbery was tantamount to a religion, this was screamingly funny. Nov 16 '20 at 22:42
  • 1
    It is also the language of cat memes ,)
    – eckes
    Nov 17 '20 at 4:29
  • Sometimes people who do not normally speak a non-standard dialect may employ such a form for emphasis, for example many British people may jocularly say "sez you" to imply scepticism or disbelief instead of the more formal "so you say". Nov 17 '20 at 9:36

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