It’s been quite some time since I’ve addressed some of the finer points of Jerseyspeak. Pay close attention to the following, because it might keep you from getting your ass kicked when visiting the Garden State. You got a problem wit dat? No? OK, let’s go.
One of the examples of Jerseyspeak that I have always found to be interesting is the use of the terms “Not for nothing”** (which is pronounced “nah-fuh-NUTTIN’”), and “I am just saying” (which is pronounced “I’m-jus sayin’”).
The former is used to introduce one’s gratuitous opinion on a matter, particularly when the person offering the gratuitous opinion has some reason to believe that the opinion may not be well-received or believed by the listener. The latter is immediately employed in cases where the gratuitous opinion is challenged.
Consider, if you will, the following exchange between Tony and Angelo, two business associates:
Tony: “Yo, nah-fuh-NUTTIN’, but I think that guy Sal is ripping us off.”
Angelo: “You gotta be nuts! I know Sal for years. He may be an asshole, but he ain’t a teef!”
Tony: “Aaaaay, I’m jus sayin’.”
As you can see, the “nah-fuh-NUTTIN’” linguistic device permits Tony to subtly alert Angelo that he is about to make a statement, which may be outlandish, insulting, or just wrong, and from which Tony may have to distance himself, depending on the Angelo’s reaction to the statement.
The “I’m jus sayin’” device permits Tony to escape responsibility for having said such a thing, ironically by asserting that he was only saying it.
Jerseyspeak – It’s an art form.
** One could scratch one’s head bloody trying to discern the literal meaning of the double-negatived verbal tic “not for nothing”. “Not for nothing”? If something is “not for nothing”, doesn’t that mean that it is “for something”? I have to stop thinking about it, as I am getting blood under my fingernails and screwing up my great farookin’ hair.