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.
1973 Y. Burgess Life to Live 96Ja nee, pull your arse in a bit more.
1980 M. Matshoba in Staffrider Vol.3 No.1, 6‘Ya, neh,’ I said, for the sake of saying something.
[1985 C. Charles in Staffrider Vol.6 No.2, 19‘Good evening officer,’ I said in my most endearing politeness. ‘Ja no..’ was all he muttered as he pushed himself into the hallway, ‘Are you the owner of this property?’]
1988 Femina Mar. 89When I revisit the Karoo, I develop an instant accent. I say Ja-Nee. I eat dried sausage. And I love sheep.
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.
1980 Fair Lady 19 Nov. 384Ah yes, or ja-nee as I have now learnt to say. I was not at High Rustenburg losing weight, but on the Heia Safari Ranch acquiring a new language.
1984 Frontline Feb. 34JaaaaNeeee. If this is development, homeland style, something is wrong.
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.
1972 L. Van der Post Story like Wind 143Looking down at the elephant, he exclaimed, ‘Ja-nee, he was darem a monument of his kind’.
1972 R. Malan Ah Big Yaws 59The inability to see paradox or contradiction in what they do or say which most Woozers [White Urban English-speaking South Africans] suffer from elicits the curious and, to ‘outsiders,’ doubtless confusing affirmation Yahnee!
1984 Frontline Feb. 27Ja-nee, Koos, there’s much to tell you about [this] weird and wonderful city.
1985 J. Thomas in Fair Lady 1 May 20Of course, boetie of course. Ja-nee. Yes, a great triomf.
1987 L. Beake Strollers 43Abel wasn’t going to be caught in the same trap with that Johnny! Ja, nee, wragtig!
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.
1987 Sowetan 6 Oct. 9Ja-nee on group areas.
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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