The sentence ending "jan"

Discussion in '日本語 (Japanese)' started by Esoppe, Nov 29, 2013.

  1. Esoppe

    Esoppe Member

    I thought the sentence-ender "jan" was a contraction of "ja nai" at first, but it seems like it is some affirmative sentence ending like "yo" or "wa". I suppose it's a relatively new slang, and I have read it adds some sort of emphasis to the sentence. My question is more about its etmyology, does it come from "ja nai" or not? And if so, how did it end up having a positive meaning instead of negative?
  2. Yoichi_f Member

    Kobe, Japan
    The じゃん? form, more or less, corresponds to a tag question in English.

    Note that it can be added either to an affirmative or negative sentence:

    あいつってバカじゃん? (He is stupid, isn't he?)
    あいつってそんなバカじゃないじゃん? (He is not so stupid, is he?)
  3. YangMuye

    YangMuye Senior Member

    If I recall correctly, it was originally a dialectal form which means the same as "ja nai".
    The "n" part might come from another negation verb "n", e.g. できん=できない, わからん=わからない, etc.
  4. Yoichi_f Member

    Kobe, Japan
    That's right. "~じゃん" comes from a dialect form of Kanagawa prefecture, and now it is widely used especially among the younger people. It is a "truncated" form of "~じゃない" and sounds really informal, or vulgar in some situations. Among friends it is OK, but it is rude to say "~じゃん" to your elders or your bosses. And the truncation process is the same as in those examples you mentioned (できん=できない, わからん=わからない, etc.).

    Sorry for my overlooking "etimology" side. The reason why I mentioned tag questions was to point out that it is not the negation of the propositional content itself. We use "~じゃん" form to see if the other part agrees with us, not to make a negative assertion. So it can be paraphrased as "..., don't you think so?".
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2013
  5. Esoppe

    Esoppe Member

    Oh, so it's actually a question. Thank you for the explanations.

    The examples I had heard were in sentences that did not sound like questions from their emphasis. For example, I remember this line: "ii jan, ii jan" said by someone who was trying to convince her friend that what she was going to do was alright.

    I guess it is sometimes also used as a rhetorical question then?
  6. YangMuye

    YangMuye Senior Member

    There are at least two types of janai, and I think I can find at least ten different usages.

    Iijan is not a question. The jan adds a sense of surprising finding. (And usually not really surprising, just a little unexcepted.)

    In the context you provided, Iijan also implies that the fact is doubtless or there is no need to doubt.

    Similar examples:
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2013

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