Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
I’m something of an English language traditionalist–I still spell out most words in my text messages, if that gives you any idea–but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the way our slang evolves over time. I’m glad certain colloquial expressions have slowly faded out of vogue; I never, ever, ever liked “hella” as an all-purpose prefix, for example, but in certain cases I find the process so strange and elegant that I can’t help but be enchanted by the final product.
It is akin, I imagine, to being able to trace the lineage of the duck-billed platypus.
Case in point: I’ma. I adore I’ma.
I first came across the contraction via the Strong Bad E-Mails, but that likely means that the expression was being used widely throughout the Atlanta area, at the very least, before that. Most recently, you can find the word starring in the chorus of Weezer’s extremely catchy new single (and excellent music video) “Pork and Beans”.
So, in context, I’ma comes from the root “I am going to.”
I am contracts into I’m.
Going to compresses into gonna.
Gonna shrinks all the way down to a short a.
And no, I wouldn’t advocate using it in your scholarly essays, but I for one think it’s a neat little truncation, especially since it’s still easily comprehensible without a dictionary of American slang. It’s like the iPod Nano of declarative phrases.