ja-nee, adverb

Forms:
ja-neh, ya-neeShow more Also ja-neh, ya-nee, yah-nee.
Origin:
AfrikaansShow more Afrikaans (literally ‘yes-no’), ‘sure’, ‘that’s a fact’; qualifying a response.
Note:
In all senses equivalent to yes-no.
1. A non-committal expression used when the appropriate reaction is not obvious, or when one wishes to avoid saying something hypocritical or unpleasant; a vague expression of agreement or assent.
1948 H.V. Morton In Search of S. Afr. 51The lady enriched my vocabulary by a glorious word, not in the phrase-book, which, by means of intonation, may express affirmation, negation, approval, disapproval, credulity, and incredulity at will. It is just ‘ja-nee’, which means yes-no.
1990 R. Malan My Traitor’s Heart 58I couldn’t afford to alienate them, so I always sighed and shook my head and said ‘ja-nee’, a Boer phrase that means ‘yes-no’ and comes in handy when nothing else comes to mind.
2. Used to express rueful resignation, disillusionment, or dejection resulting from an unpleasant realization (especially from the discovery that something or someone is not as pleasant or innocuous as one at first believed).
1970 A. Fulton I Swear to Apollo 214Ja, nee, he thought mournfully, it’s the men outside that hit the headlines.
1988 J. Heyns in Sunday Times 3 July (Extra) 2The N., I discovered, stood for non-white! To give an N. jockey a full name was racetrack sacrilege in the Orange Free State. Ja nee.
3. An emphatic affirmation of what one has said or is about to say, or of what someone else has said.
a1971 C. Eglington in Contrast 43 Vol.2 No.3, 83Among old men I’ve heard ‘Ja-nee’, ‘Ja-nee’ — Repeated like a chuckle or lament When, after rumination, they felt free To summarise and clinch all they had meant by Long discourse in praise or condemnation Of a current political situation.
1988 A. Sichel in Star 27 May 13De Wet isn’t your mail-order boereseun, ‘Not classic Boksburg,’ he grins. Ja nee, he went to all the right schools.
4. Used to express the paradoxical or contradictory nature of a situation. Also attributive.
1972 L. Van der Post Story like Wind 143Ja-nee literally means ‘yes-no’...It was for him an expression in the here and now of the mysterious, inexpressible and abiding paradox that is at the heart of all inanimate and living matter.
1990 Cue 30 June (Suppl.) 2Her brother is both a hunter and leading conservationist. This is the Ja/Nee contradictory situation in which so many South Africans find themselves.
5. Introducing a contradiction: ‘I understand why you think that, but you are wrong.’
1987 Frontline Feb. 41The current exchange rate is not a ‘true’ exchange rate, I hear you cry. Political factors have depressed it. In terms of buying power, the rand is really worth much more. Yes and no. Or Ja-nee.
1988 D. Paice in Femina June 40Ja-Nee, they tell me when I ask about upper-class Afrikaans, there is no such thing.
A non-committal expression used when the appropriate reaction is not obvious, or when one wishes to avoid saying something hypocritical or unpleasant; a vague expression of agreement or assent.
Used to express rueful resignation, disillusionment, or dejection resulting from an unpleasant realization (especially from the discovery that something or someone is not as pleasant or innocuous as one at first believed).
An emphatic affirmation of what one has said or is about to say, or of what someone else has said.
Used to express the paradoxical or contradictory nature of a situation. Also attributive.
‘I understand why you think that, but you are wrong.’
Derivatives:
Hence ja-nee noun, vacillation; one who vacillates, or who contradicts himself or herself.
1983 Sunday Times 18 Sept. 34The Ja-Nees must not have it.
1990 Sunday Times 19 Aug. 14Doctor Ja-Nee...A master of ambiguity, he relies on sleight of phrase and ideological double jointedness to wriggle out of potentially tight spots.

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19481990

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