South African Dutch, Malay, PortugueseShow more South African Dutch nonje, nonna woman, oldest daughter, probably from Malay njona, nona, njonjah an unmarried European girl, used also as a form of address, ‘miss’, ‘madam’; or perhaps adaptation of Portuguese dona lady (or see quotation 1913).
A.N.E. Changuion (Proeve van Kaapsch Taaleigen, 1844) records nonna as the diminutive form of South African Dutch nooi (see nooi).
1913C. PettmanAfricanderisms 341Nonna or Nonni, (Port. nona, a nun. Crawford (‘Malay Dictionary’) says that the word is used by the Malays of an unmarried European lady; hence most probably its use and application in South Africa.) A young European lady, a young mistress.
1960J. CopeTame Ox 145The maid watched her aslant. ‘Ai, my nonna, what is the basie doing?’ the girl suddenly asked.
c1964‘Kwela’ inNew S. Afr. Writing 157As for the nonnas of Glenalmond, many of them ripe for marriage, he had taken none of them, in a white veil, to church.
1972L. Van der PostStory like Wind 269Nonnie was a dimutive of Nonna, the polite word for mistress used by the servants in Francois’s world. The daughters of the houses inevitably became nonnie (little mistress).
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