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I always thought this usage as being "Italian American", although I couldn't work out why it might be the case, with all other occasions simply being imitations of "The Sopranos" / "Godfather". I assumed it was a dialectal grammar variation, in the same way in which several English dialects have a 2nd personal pronoun, or a phonological thing, like the Parisian tendency to stick schwa vowels at the end of some words (in which case the speaker would be using a "subjunctive" *and so I say to the guy* but adding a final /s/). Are there any other usages?



On 16 Dec 2010, at 06:43, Douglas Koller <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Eric Christopherson" <[log in to unmask]> 
> To: [log in to unmask] 
> Sent: Wednesday, December 15, 2010 11:59:33 PM 
> Subject: YAEUT: Historic present 
> 
>> I've been familiar with the 1st-person "historic present" form of verbs for a while -- the one that is formally identical >to the third-person singular present, but is used in the first person when a person describes something that >happened to them. Until recently, the only verbs I knew of where that form was available were "say" and "go", as >in "so I says to the guy ...". 
> 
>> However, I was surprised recently when I realized a woman I know often uses that form of verbs other than those >two, as in "I looks in there ...". I've heard her use that form of various verbs lately. I gather that "I says" is pretty >common; how common is it to use a distinct historic present form for other verbs in the first person singular? 
> 
>> And is it the case that the 1st-person singular //z// historic present was originally restricted to just verbs like "say" >and "go", but my friend's speech community has extended it to other verbs? Or is it the case that it was originally >applicable to many verbs, but now only "say" and "go" remain as fossilized forms of it in most dialects I'm familiar >with? 
> 
>> And further, where did the historic present form in //z// come from, regardless of which verbs it applied to? 
> 
> I'm not familiar with this usage. Certainly, Adam's "You pays your money, you takes your chances." is common enough, but that's not past tense. When I was a janitor back in university, one would encounter sentences like, "You takes your sponge and you wipes your counters, then you takes your mop and you mops your floor." (It's not *MY* sponge or counter, and it's not *MY* mop or floor! Aargh!) Also not past. Slipping into the present tense to represent the past, in theory, renders it more vivid, but I wouldn't plunk an "s" on it in the 1st person, per se. Commonly said here for discourse is, "So I'm like, 'What the f***?'" "Then he goes, 'I don't know.'" "Then I say, 'Well, you should.'" 
> 
> Kou