Date: Fri, 24 May 1996 12:47:24 -0400


Subject: Re: "I was about to say"

On Fri, 24 May 1996, Suzanne Cadwell wrote:

using "I was about to say" as a discourse marker or comment clause in


My working hypothesis, if one can even term it that, is that it is a

gesture of either:

1) informing the conversation partner that you had had the same thought

they have just expressed

2) a general statement of sympathy with the sentiments the conversation

partner had just expressed

I've only "caught" one man using the clause, who insisted that he uses it

only as an affectation.

Is this a recent phenomenon or am I just suddenly aware of it?

I haven't really paid much attention to this phrase, but it does work as

a clear discourse marker of some kind. But my sense is that works in a

manner somewhat different than your hypothesis, although there could be

two or more forms here.

My sense is that the phrase, "I was about to say" functions as a means of

claiming the floor or a turn, after an interruption. In this context

though, I hear it more as, "As I was about to say..." It all depends on

what comes in the "..." Sometimes we hear "the same thing" which points

to the collaborative/sympathy function. But we also here "before you


Terry Irons


Terry Lynn Irons t.irons[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

Voice Mail: (606) 783-5164

Snail Mail: UPO 604 Morehead, KY 40351