What dialect is “You wants I should do it for ya?”

I heard this phrasing in an episode of a TV show, but I can’t remember what for the life of me. I just remember how weird it sounded, because no one else talked like that in the series?

It was a white character in a rural setting, if that helps. A criminal henchman. Is there an area or something where “You wants I…” is commonplace?


I’m not sure about that “wants,” but “you want I should ___” is probably originally from either German or Yiddish. However, today, it’s very common (perhaps even more common) to hear this construction used by Mafiosi in movies and television shows. I.e. it’s become associated with (a cliché, broad caricature of) Italian-Americans.

“You want I should” is a calque of the German du willst dass ich soll and of the Yiddish וועלן איך זאָלן/veln ikh zoln (someone with better Yiddish is encouraged to correct that). In other words, a German or Yiddish speaker might naively make a word for word translation of du willst dass ich soll/וועלן איך זאָלן into English and say “you want I should.” This is non-standard, but intelligible, or close enough to the standard English that its use was common.

As to which immigrant group is really responsible for the phrase’s familiarity, it’s hard to say. The large German migration predates the large Jewish migration of the late 19th century and we do see an increase in the recorded uses of “want I should” around the time of the German immigration: “What’s the history behind the phrase ‘you want I should’?”

However, given Yiddish performers’ influence on popular culture, and Jewish immigrants’ presence in urban centers (like New York, whose dialect is probably the most closely associated with “you want I should”), my gut tells me that it was the Yiddish calque, rather than the German one, that made a lasting impression on American English.

Other discussions on the subject:
“You want I should ask him?”, Language Log
“You want I should”, xkcd
“You want I should”, Linguaphiles

Source : Link , Question Author : Patroclus , Answer Author : Juhasz

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