Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

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Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with passion. Learn More

“I’m just saying”

I’m interested in the origins of “I’m just saying” used postpositively. (Also its variant: “I’m not saying, I’m just saying.”) An example: “Have you ever noticed how many people end statements with qualifiers? I’m just saying.” It seems to be an update of “With all due respect,” or perhaps something I’m not thinking of. Is it an East Coast expression? I’m from California and have never heard it in speech, but have noticed it frequently in blog titles and posts.

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Thank you Jo! :)

jan2 Jul-14-2010

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Read the Urban Dictionary online, I'm just saying.

Jo1 Jul-14-2010

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Jan, I think "refuse" is to strong. One declines to elaborate or defend because
1) one wishes to avoid picking a fight. Sometimes the phrase "just saying," by suggesting that one is avoiding a fight, introduces a sense of contentiousness which was not there before
2) one is not vehement about the statement. One just wants the other to consider. Underlying this is the suggestion that the other persons resistance itself indicates that it may have some truth to it.

- Could he just be trying to get your attention?
- No!
- Just saying.

paravinda Jul-13-2010

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I needed to know what some people were talking about when they used this phrase (as each had a different definition of what the phrase means to them), so I looked it up in the urban dictionary.

Urban Dictionary: just saying
Just saying: a phrase used to indicate that we refuse to defend a claim we've made---in other words, that we refuse to offer reasons that what we've said is true.

jan2 Jul-13-2010

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I know this isn't a very constructive comment, and doesn't add a lot to this discussion, but I HATE the expression: "Just sayin'." Why did everyone start to use it, all of a sudden? Was it something in the collective linguistic unconscious???

lollielott Jun-16-2010

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I am from Northern Maine (Aroostook County) and that is a favorite statement here. I am think here it has four meanings. 1. The statement is in my opinion. 2. My opinion is all that matters . 3. Pointing things out that are mostly obvious to another person. 4. "getting the last/final word in" comes to mind as well.

n1px Jun-13-2010

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This saying is widely used in the state of Michigan and seems to be
getting more popular with the rest of the world! The saying is the
equivalent of the old New York saying- "forget about it!" It was
first originally invented and used by the underground comic
sensation BILLY KLEIN of BURT, MICHIGAN, USA. He loves others to
use it in their everyday conversations, but definitely wants
everyone to know it was him that started saying it and using it
in his shows!!

billfromburtt May-28-2010

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IMHO it's just a trend, a fad running itself around contemporary American speech. It reminds me a little of the overuse of the word "awesome" to describe just about anything positive. It also reminds me of the little bit Billy Crystal used to do imitating Ricardo Montelban on SNL with his line, "You Look Marvelous". That went around and everybody was saying that for a few months 20 years ago and then it died out. People pick up on stuff like that and it becomes the thing to say for a while. I'm just sayin'... (It IS fun to say!)

tonalities Apr-29-2010

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Yes, Emily, what you said:
"I always thought of it as making yourself sound more innocent, especially if it follows some kind of biting comment or teasing remark."

But there is also the "protest too much" inflection with which one can say "just sayin" You (seem to) step back from what you said only to draw the other person closer to its truth.

"What if we didn't have ice cream for desert? Just sayin."
"What if we don't go 75 miles an hour? Just sayin."

paravinda Apr-29-2010

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Ending sentences with lots of words to cushion your statement is definitely a big thing in Japanese, especially among girls, who were the majority of my conversation partners when I lived there. Sometimes half the words in someone's conversation will be those sorts of cushion or apology words (especially "nandakedo" used without a particular meaning, such as in "moshimoshi, Emirii dakedo, ano..", where you're basically apologising for being yourself). Equivalents of "um" ("anou", especially "saa" where I was) also take up a lot of Japanese speech. It helped me a lot because it gave me time to understand the useful information in between, but it also makes people seem overly apologetic to my ears. I'm not sure where "toki ni" fits in though - it's usually used in the middle of a sentence, no?
I guess "Just sayin'" is kind of apologetic as well, but I always thought of it as making yourself sound more innocent, especially if it follows some kind of biting comment or teasing remark.

Emily1 Apr-28-2010

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Perhaps in 2006 when this was posted, the saying was "I'm just saying." By now it has become "just sayin" and appears on national TV, in ads, and even on CNN as Jon Stewart famously pointed out:

Used effectively, it allows one to say something bold or raise an uncomfortable question while assuring the listener that one does not mean to offend or pick a fight. In a more subtle usage, one tags this phrase to the end of a sentence in order to alert the listener that one has in fact said something controversial ("fighting words"), which might not have been evident from the statement alone. For example: "If we repair the levy this area will be able to withstand a hurricane. Just sayin."

Overused, it is yet another way to refrain from stating your view with conviction, just like the annoying habit of intoning statements as questions and demanding reassurance for every word and phrase before expressing a thought.

paravinda Apr-26-2010

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I've noticed "Just sayin." getting used more often at the end of posts on message boards. Think some people like to use it as 'their' trademark/signature line. Also think some people use it to soften whatever has just been said; reminds me of "just kidding" when both parties know the person was serious.

I find it grating and not at all cute, but that is the case with most phrases that get grossly overused in speech and/or on line. There are a few things I'd like to see retired; if just LOL and OMG would go away, that would be great.

Just sayin.

cjs7767 Apr-25-2010

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That´s my understanding, I´m just saying.

JustMe1 Mar-24-2010

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It means,"take it as you wish and I don´t want to discuss about it."
That´s my understanging, I´m just saying.

JustMe1 Mar-24-2010

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OP is a faggot!! I'm just sayin'..

anonymous4 Feb-19-2010

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"Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are" was Jimmy Durante's radio sign-off.

douglas.bryant Jan-15-2010

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Thanks for the info.
Can you recall who said..."good night Mrs. ????? wherever you are"
Was in Jimmy Durante or Red Skelton??

Ron4 Jan-15-2010

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Thank you, yes. It was both a typo and an absent-minded error. Thanks for correcting me.

ps60s Dec-20-2009

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Roger, maybe it was just a typo, but I think you mean yenta, not zenta.

porsche Dec-20-2009

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That phrase -- which I like, too, in moderation -- sounds as if it comes from Jewish comedians of the 1930s and 1940s, possibly from Yiddish theater and drama of the era, or possibly the stereotype of the Jewish mama, the zenta, who is usually a nagger: nags her husband, her children, her sister in Brooklyn. For example:

"I'm not saying marry a rich boy, Rachel, but it's just as easy to fall in love with someone rich as it is with someone poor. I'm just saying .. "

The rich, earthy, usually wise resonances of colloquial Jewish American speech seem to come across in this phrase. It's subtler and often more persuasive than saying, "Now listen, I'm not ordering you, but .. " or "I'm not telling you what to do, but .. "

Maybe the famous "Molly Goldberg" said it on her radio program or "Mrs.Nussbaum", or Hermoine Gingold, or someone like that. That's my guess.

ps60s Dec-20-2009

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This is like my favorite saying... "I'm not saying, I'm just saying" LOL we always say it at work... I work at a big box retail store and we must say this like a million times during our weekly manager meeting. I love it, we have a blast! It's just fun to say!

soccerfoot14 Dec-19-2009

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I've always considered the postpositive "I'm just saying" to be analogous to speaking loudly to non-English speakers to make them understand. To me, the expression translates to "I see I haven't convinced you yet, so I'll just restate my conclusion without anything further to support it. There--now don't you agree???"

lewslair Dec-14-2009

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so many comments... I'm just saying...

loosepayyan Nov-23-2009

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Over 50 years ago, Col. John R. Stingo, The Honest Rainmaker, told the story of “the White Robin Authenticity setup.” Rumors of the unique bird’s appearance in South Jersey began a betting frenzy among the New York gambling crowd. Finally, after observers from both sides made the trip and a photo was taken in evidence, all bets were paid off. Turns out, though, the original rumor-monger’s brother had done “a little Rembrandting on the good horse Ahmadoun” a decade before. Col. Stingo explains:

“Made this Ahmaudon look like a certain $1500 Claimer entered in a race that same afternoon. The conspirators got the Price and they reaped the harvest. Without customary Easel or Pastel, somebody could have done as neat a Job on White Robin.
I’m only Saying, that’s all.”

[From Stingo’s column, Yea Verily, March 3, 1945 in the Enquirer, according to A.J.
Liebling in The Jollity Building, The Library of America edition, p. 479.]

gfabe Nov-17-2009

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My son uses "Im just saying" as a way to wind me up in a disagreement and I thought this was just an argumentative child thing until a new woman started at work who also uses it to provoke an arguement...the thing is everytime she says it I just see a stroppy teenager and feel the urge to send her to her room :)

faerywitch Oct-27-2009

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Along with many others, I found this page while googling the origin of the phrase.

I had assumed it was another sitcom catchphrase, and was surprised to see the original question asked 3 years ago. Perhaps it's built slowly, or I keep my head in the sand (no television, avoid magazines, etc.).

Unfortunately it's one of those expressions that causes me to sigh and roll my eyes. It's a useless piece of meaningless speech, an attempt at being humorous without actually including humor. When I think of the possibilities we have with our individualism, our freedom of speech and relatively decent education, I'm left wondering why people continually strive to sound like everyone else, repeat catchphrases and drag in references when they want to seem funny.

The funniest people I know aren't the ones who quote and pass on funny things they've heard and seen elsewhere. The funny people are intellectual, original and imaginative. Following your words with "...just sayin" is the exact opposite.

Neil1 Oct-22-2009

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I actually found this blog while googling the exact definition of the term "just saying," but here's my two cents. I generally use it as a sort of disclaimer, a verbal 'throwing up the hands in innocence' if you will. I use it after a joke or tease directed at a friend. On one hand it's a disclaimer, but it's also a way to let them know it *was* a joke, and not an actual mean-spirited comment.

janishta.magis Oct-15-2009

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Comically, I just asked my co-worker, who used the phrase "I'm just saying" postpositively, if she were quoting a movie. I hear this phrase all the time now. Hailing from New Jersey, I realize it may be common back east, but in Idaho, where I now reside, it has suddenly crept into common usage.

piantanida31 Sep-30-2009

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Interesting. This came up twice in e-mails recently (here on the East Coast) and I wasn't sure how to interpret it.

In one case, I sent a group e-mail reminding everyone about a deadline from the previous day (I'm the project manager). In a group of 8, only 3 of us had met the deadline. In my reminder, I didn't mention anybody by name, not even myself -- I asked everyone who hadn't made the deadline to please get their stuff in ASAP. I got kind of a hissy note from one of those who did make the deadline, saying: "It hurts my feelings to be lumped in with all these slackers who can't get their work done on time. Just sayin'." I'm still not sure what to make of it.

kelsey_ Sep-12-2009

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The way I see it, there are two goals to ending your statement with, "I'm just saying." As stated above, it implies something, leading the listener to think a certain way. At the same time, it absolves the speaker of responsibility for whatever conclusion the listener may come to as a result.
Used in that way, it means: "I don't mean anything by it, but you're certainly welcome, and encouraged, to draw your own conclusions."
Of course, none of this actually answers the posed question of the phrase's origins.

bjhagerman Sep-02-2009

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I first saw this phrase this summer, used by a friend on Facebook. Basically she uses it in place of "for what it's worth." Usually it follows something said tongue-in-check with a bit of a smirky grin implied.

precisn Sep-02-2009

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I agree with Ben C and I find Mike W's interpretation to be bizarre. Are you a native English speaker, Mike? Your inability to pick up on the nuances of this construction indicates otherwise, as does your seeming inability to hear the implied inflection in your head. You must have a difficult time getting jokes. I'm just saying...

jonogolding Jun-30-2009

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I have always taken this to assure that the statement that precedes it is not intended to begin a discussion for the purposes of trying to decide whether it is true, etc., but is intended just to sort of post your opinion.

"That shirt doesn't really go with those pants... I'm just sayin’..." (In my mind’s eye, this statement is delivered with shrugged shoulders and hands turned palms toward the recipient, fingers up, a posture of "I'm not looking for a fight.")

Without the latter statment, this would be an invitation to discuss it. But with the latter, it is more a piece of information for the recipient to do with as he wills--take it or leave it.

Or, if Sue says to Bob, "My boyfriend thinks I talk too much." Then he says, "You do talk a lot... I'm just saying..."

This provides Sue with input that she talks a lot (in a neutral way--neither good nor bad). But Bob is NOT saying, "...and it bothers me, too." He isn't taking up the boyfriend's fight as a proxy, nor is he opening a battle front of his own--he doesn't really care how much Sue talks. But he cares for Sue, so he provides her with his opinion, though making it clear that she can do with the info whatever she likes.

There are other appendages that can be used to modify statements in a way that is amusing, ways that make speech more fun to engage in, such as "so to speak..."

brian.wren.ctr May-14-2009

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"I'm just saying" is used to wonderful effect in the play Rabbit Hole which tells the story of ordinary people in the midst of life changes and tragedies. I saw an excellent production back in the fall and obviously the clause and its useage in the play have lingered. I've enjoyed reading about this clause. Thanks to everyone!

Smitty_ Mar-17-2009

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I've lived in NYC, Charleston, SC, Chicago and Berkeley, CA...I started hearing it in Berkeley a few years ago actually but now hear it everywhere. I often use the phrase or hear it--especially at work in my design meetings or when someone has a hunch or opposing idea.

hillary_Chicago Feb-24-2009

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I agree with John. It's used to be coy; tongue in cheek, as a capstone disclaimer.

And, yeah, very Jerry Seinfeld along the lines of, "Not that there's anything wrong with that."

TB Feb-03-2009

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I use it comical situations. It can add more punch to the punch line. I tend not to use it in every day speech and certainly not in more serious conversations.

John4 Jan-21-2009

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I hear it mostly with the under 30 age groups.

It is used as a statement qualifier for situations where someone doesn't have the backbone to take responsibility for the words coming out of their mouth.

The phrase is often tacked on to the end of a statement in an attempt shift the ownership of the words from the speaker/writer to some nebulous party out there somewhere.

Scott1 Jan-09-2009

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Hmmm... I just thought that I would GOOGLE this phrase and see what I come up with. I was looking for the origin of the phrase: "I'm just saying!" It has struck me as in general usage (as pointed out in other posts) for the past 4 or 5 years. But maybe it has been longer. If Jerry Seinfeld did a skit on it I wonder if its origins are on the East Coast. Here I am on the West Coast (Wet Coast) of Canada.
Thanks, everyone, for the comments.

Rick55 Dec-09-2008

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I thought I remembered a Seinfeld episode where Jerry gets into this analysis of the phrase where he points out that you can say just about anything negative or critical to another person as long as you follow it with "I'm just saying ...." If they protest further, you can defend your criticism by telling them, "I'm NOT 'saying' ... But I AM saying...." As always, Seinfeld makes the point that it is part of the new mindless gobbledygook that dribbles from the mouths of people nowadays.

It works like this:

You: Wow. Your ------- really stinks.

Her: What? What are you saying.

You: I'm just saying that your ------- really stinks.

Her: I'm not sure I like you saying that to me. That hurts my feelings.

You: No. No. I'm NOT "SAYING," ... But I AM saying ... that, um, your ------- really stinks.

Her: Oh. Um. Okay.

Anonymous211 Nov-28-2008

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i think it's a way of saying something to someone w/o saying it. the substance of what youre trying to point out to the other person is omitted but s/he stills gets the drift, as in:

im not sayin' youre ...

... putting on too much weight ...
... drinking too much ...
... spending too much money on ...

... im just sayin' ...

the words go unspoken but the point gets hopefully 'heard'

y'know ... im not sayin' ... im just sayin'

anonymous4 Nov-24-2008

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"all i'm saying" just means that the person is summarizing whatever he/she just said previous in one final climatic statement. So all i'm saying is stop overanalyzing it.

J1 Nov-11-2008

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My take is that it is a rhetorical device that has come to the fore as a result of political blogging and that its similar to "I'm just asking".

The speaker is being intentionally, sarcastically coy.

As in: "I'm not sure of her poltical background, but I'm pretty sure she doesn't own any bras. I'm just saying!"

I've heard it used that way both by left and right wing commentators.

"I'm not sure if those Obama people smoke dope, but do seem to giggle a lot after lunch. I'm just saying!"

pophop Nov-09-2008

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I started hearing this used on forums a lot in the past year. For some reason, I LIKE it!

Paula2 Aug-28-2008

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Oops, I guess one does, if not the other.

anonymous4 Mar-19-2008

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Andrew, I'm a little confused by your examples. Nowhere do they actually include "I'm just saying".

anonymous4 Mar-19-2008

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I remember comedian Paul Reiser do a stand-up bit back in the '80s using the expression. I can't recall the entire bit verbatum, but I think he went on with "I'm not saying you're fat, I'm just sayin'. I don't think it or even mean it, I'm just sayin' it."

Kenn Mar-19-2008

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I could be mistaken but I swear Eddie Murphy referenced the expression "I'm just saying" in one of his early comedy routines (perhaps Raw or Delirious) from the 80s.

Ever since then I've been using that expression. His point was that you can diffuse tension or turn around the meaning by saying "I'm just saying" or by repeating the offensive remark.

Example 1:

"You're ugly!"
"What?! Who you callin' ugly?!"
"Relax! I'm just saying you're ugly."
"Um, okay."

Example 2:

"You're ugly!"
"What? Who you callin' ugly?!"
"You're not UGLY ugly, you're just ugly."
"Um, okay."

So Eddie Murphy surely didn't come up with the expression, but 30-somethings like me probably learned it from him and help spread the expression.

Andrew1 Feb-12-2008

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I made it up. It is from New England.

swharr Dec-29-2007

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I think it can be used as a way of distancing oneself; a way of asserting something while at the same time claiming that it's not necessarily one's own opinion, perhaps to avoid offense. Say, something like "I'm just saying, If you paint your car purple, some people might think you're a bit weird." Translation: You're my friend. I'll support you no matter what you do. I don't think you're weird, but you might want to reconsider your aesthetic choices a bit. Alternate translation: You're my friend, but if you do this everyone, me included, will think you're friggin' nuts. I'm trying to warn you diplomatically so we can both save face.

anonymous4 Aug-17-2007

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It means, "Don't blame the messenger, but let's agree the truth if it is obvious."

wholeglor Aug-17-2007

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My first exposure to the phrase was an episode of The Simpsons. After a particularly disappointing road trip, one character says, "This never would have happened if we'd gone to Macon, Georgia." When the other characters give him "the stare", he responds with "I'm just sayin', is all."

Apparently I picked up the phrase, and now am known for it myself.

Wolf Jul-10-2007

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Hmmm. I came here looking for the origin of "I'm just sayin' 'izall". I thought for sure it came from a movie or similar pop culture content. I think I've learned that its a specific variation of a (unknown) regional expression. I'm in Ottawa Canada & here we use as an after statement" it when we've inadvertantly caused an argument or controversy (how Canadian eh).

Jay2 Jul-07-2007

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It's a cop out: a trial balloon. I won't speak from conviction because I don't want to offend anyone and I really don't have convictions. Those are too damn dangerous' someone might not like me. But there again, I'm just saying...

Victor Jun-22-2007

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I'm an old geezer (48) and am typecast as the guy in the office who says, "I'm not sayin'. I'm just sayin" I don't know where I scooped it from. It erupts from my mouth when I make an editorial comment about something or someone and don't want to be held responsible for the consequences of my comments.

uncle_harv May-11-2007

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Hmm, everytime I or my friends say "I'm just sayin'" we're usually pointing out a truth or opinion that most people don't want to hear or are afraid to say aloud. But at the same time, we're hoping they don't get offended or throw a fit. Most often though, it's said after something fairly humorous, leaving the listener to their own conclusion.

W.F. Jan-31-2007

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I'm inclined to believe that the general use of the postpositive "I'm just saying" is meant to excuse having said something impolite or inappropriate. It seems akin to the prepositive use of "I'm not a racist but...," just before the expression of an altogether racist sentiment.

opus_125 Jan-12-2007

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im from vancouver, just north of cali and washington and i hear all the time. im only fifteen and ive always that it was just said in casual talks about nothing. i guess its just a random comment that really isnt sposed to be taken seriously.

Ridethgus Jan-06-2007

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I'm also a California native, yet hear it all the time. Assuming of course it is a regional thing (I'm specifically in Los Angeles) I think it is another slang saying that my generation has put being statements, so as to not offend anyone, or to place emphasis on the fact that it is an opinion being stated. Stating "I'm just saying" at the end is a sort of deflection of rebuttals before they happen. I doubt it has anything to do with location.

Cali_girl Dec-11-2006

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I have to agree with Ben C's comment. I have a friend that uses this as part of his daily vocabulary.

This is a phrase which has a two part effect: 1) to deflect what would be a strong disgust/disagreement with that person's argument and 2)inserting the mere placeholder of a possibility that the argument is valid (though hollow).

I really hate that term. It's really an attempt to make an end run an extremely weak argument to make the declarant's point good in the face of overwhelming impeaching evidence or argument. The person using this term doesn't have to or want to invest any amount critical thinking skills and logic to support their position.

I'd be dismissive of that type of person as being an academically dishonest cretin.

cybermaniac Dec-11-2006

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I'm sorry I'm sorry, this isn't, but, I am living in Japan at the moment without a full comprehension of the language, so I notice this sort of stuff more (maybe when it's not your native language and you don't really understand all of it, the fillers and sentence trailers that you can recognize stand out more). People here end their sentences with "ke do" (but) or "no de..." (so...), or "toki ni" (at that time), or "sou iu koto de" (so to speak) all the time. Usually, these sentence trailers do nothing to the meaning of the sentence even though they do by themselves have meaning. Maybe "I'm just saying" used postpositively works similarly. The expression does have meaning, but what does it actually add to the point you're trying to convey? Maybe it is sometimes used for a purpose, but maybe it is often also just a linguistic tick.

AO Dec-07-2006

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oops, "p" is me.

porsche Nov-19-2006

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I think I agree with Mike's interpretation. I have also heard it used to mean something like "Don't read more into this. Take it at face value. Don't infer anything beyond what I have actually said." I have frequently heard it used after a discussion escalates into an argument when someone misunderstood something. I Have never heard "all I'm saying" in a context that implies something scandalous. I have also never heard it used postpositively at all, and couldn't begin to imagine how that would change the meaning. As for "All's I'm sayin' is", I really couldn't imagine anyone ending a sentence that way, and certainly never heard it used that way either.

p1 Nov-19-2006

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I disagree with Ben C.'s interpretation. I don't think it implies more innappropriate intentions. It just implies hearsay and uncertainty and that the speaker doesn't take responsibilty for what results may come of informing other people since he, himself is not even 100% certain. I think it's a substitute for saying "it's possible but not concrete."

Mike_W. Nov-19-2006

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Agree w/ Ben C. I interpret, "All I'm saying" as a statement intentionally devoid of supporting detail and background information so that it will either imply scandal and/or spur another party into saying what the "All I'm saying" originator was thinking.

Along that line, I suppose, "All I'm saying" is a tool of the sh1t stirrer.

Jeremy2 Nov-05-2006

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My favorite is, "Alls I'm sayin' is". It's definitely a derivative of, "I'm just saying." I'm just saying is something that comes up in daily conversation. It's used exactly has Ben C. showed in his example. It very subtly changes a statement, but does so all the same.

Felicia Nov-02-2006

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Yes, porsche, that's how I intended my comments. Let's use an example. Co-workers are discussing a man in their office who they suspect of cheating on his wife. Saying "I'm just saying, he left left his wedding ring at home last night" IS subtlely different than saying, "He left his wedding ring at home last night. I'm just saying." The latter, in what I've heard around me, does more toward implying inappropriate intentions on the part of the man.

Ben_C Nov-01-2006

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I hope I'm not misinterpreting this, but, everyone, Nancy is not asking about the general expression "I'm just saying." She's specifically asking about the use of the expression postpositively, i.e., tacked onto the end of a sentence.

porsche Nov-01-2006

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I hear it particularly often in Jewish humor. Perhaps it's from Yiddish?

David_Fickett-Wilbar Nov-01-2006

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East Coast guy here, and I hear it in speech all the time. Tends to be used as, "I'm not claiming it's absolutely true; I'm just saying what I think." But often its intent is the opposite: "Since what I just said is so obviously true I can concede that it might not be true, thereby showing just how true it really is."

Ben_C Oct-29-2006

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