18

I saw this uncommon contraction a couple of days ago. The sentence read something like

I'za stupid farmer boy, but know a thing or two about computers.

What does the contraction really mean? Is it short for something like "I iz", so that it would seem that the speaker is uneducated? I tried searching online resources, but with a query this short, the results I was getting were pretty useless.

  • 6
    Never heard of it before. As it will only occur in extremely informal spoken English, you are unlikely to find it in any grammar or dictionary. From the sentence I would agree with your reading of it being a contraction of I is a. – Oliver Mason Jun 15 '18 at 9:01
  • 3
    "He's a" Maybe? – Kris Jun 15 '18 at 13:05
  • 1
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_dialect – chepner Jun 15 '18 at 14:13
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    It comes from a dialect (British rural English) conjugation of the verb "to be": I is, You is, He is, We is, You is, They is. A similar conjugation (in rural south west England) is I be, You be, He be, etc . – alephzero Jun 15 '18 at 19:18
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    This reminds me of Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars, he talks like this! – Pedro A Jun 16 '18 at 11:11
1

It's a form of

I'se

var. I's, Ise...

  • (N. UK reg. or arch.) I shall.
    I'se warrant him nane of your whingeing King George folk. (Walter Scott, Waverley, Vol. II)

  • (N. UK, S. US reg., AAVE) I am, via reg. dial. 'I is'.
    Ise, I am or I will. (Wm. Carr, Dialect of Craven... York)
    I'se tinking wha' jolly time we will hab on Saturday arternoon, down under ole elm trees, on bank ob de riber. (W.L.G. Smith, Life at South)

that picked up the indefinite article a because of the rhythm of the sentence. Eye dialect is often used mockingly; the example here seems to be self-mocking in the interest of gaining more authority for the modest claim of 'some knowledge' of computers.

37

It's simply a way of contracting "I is a". In your context I would guess it's a faked patois.

  • I would call it eye dialect; an attempt at representing nonstandard speech as heard, using nonstandard spelling. Whether the speech is a regional dialect, performance error, an idiolect, or conscious wordplay on the part of the speaker, it's hard to guess. "I'sa" would preserve the spelling of "I is a" but not the pronunciation; to make it clear the sibilant is voiced (and that it represents, ironically, the "s" in "is") "I'za" is clearer. For that reason it's more eye dialect than a simple contraction. – CCTO Jun 19 at 20:15
26

"He sez I'za gonna look like you some day" . google books

and

I'se

1847 in representations of African-American vernacular, a contraction of I is (see is), irregular for I am. (etymonline)

Variations in AAVE an other colloquial AmE: I is, I am Similar to fidna: a fixin to. Seen more written than spoken though I did hear, in jest: I'za gonna whup yo arse.

3

I have never come across it before. As it will only occur in extremely informal spoken English, you are unlikely to find it in any grammar or dictionary, but it could be used in literature to try and convey a particular way of speaking.

From the sentence I would agree with your reading of it being a contraction of I is a; the /s/ would be voiced, so in the contraction it is represented by a z, and the duplicate /i/ is elided.

  • Well, it's in the OED, so it has that going for it, I guess... – lly Jun 16 '18 at 18:15
-2

"I'ze" is an alternate spelling of the Canajan "I's", a contraction of "I is," which means "I am."

Canajan is a language occasionally spoken in Canada.

Example use:

Canajan: I's gawn t' Trawna fer t' hall day, eh?

English: I am going to Toronto for vacation.

https://genius.com/Great-big-sea-ise-the-by-lyrics

  • Since the people who ask questions on this site are often confused to begin with, a plain and direct answer may be more helpful than a whimsical, tongue-in-cheek answer. – herisson Jun 16 '18 at 22:19
  • I's gawn tek off, eh? – puppetsock Jun 20 '18 at 14:06

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