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A comment to this post:  "Accents you expect to hear" (4/6/22):

From Rob:

I was born and brought up in Zambia, a then-British colony. My (mainly) British parents made it clear that I was not to speak like a "jaapie", although that was the natural accent to use with my friends.

It's a name, but I never heard of it before.  So I had to look it up, and it was worth the effort, because it raises some interesting questions.


japie (plural japies)

    (South Africa, derogatory, slang, ethnic slur) Alternative form of yarpie


japie (plural japies)

    (derogatory) bumpkin, clodhopper, hick



(South Africa, derogatory, slang, ethnic slur) A white South African man.


From Afrikaans japie, short for plaasjapie (“farm-boy”), referring to any person who grew up on a farm and is unfamiliar with city life, and hence naive and unsophisticated.



Compound of plaas (“farm”) +‎ japie (“bumpkin, hick, boy”).

(derogatory) country cousin, yokel, hayseed



From Afrikaans plaas (“farm”). Doublet of place, piazza and plaza.

From Dutch plaats, from Middle Dutch plāetse, from Old French place.

plaas (plural plase, diminutive plasie)

    farm; a piece of land, usually used for farming


The word jaapie / yarpie spread all the way from South Africa to Australia and New Zealand.

noun & adjective (also Japie, Yarpie) (also Australian) informal often derogatory (a) white South African. [an Afrikaaner]

(The Oxford Dictionary of New Zealandisms)

And beyond:


Pronounced "Yah-pee".

Can be spelled Yarpy, Yaapie, but correctly Jaapie as it comes from the Boer -Dutch nickname for men called Jaap (just like Johnny is for John).

Although it was commonly used and perhaps still is, it isn't necessarily a kind way of naming a person because it is often used as a name for the South African equivalent of a Redneck or white right male.

Very often the term was used to describe the kind of Old Dutch males who used to be able to be spotted by their leather shorts, leather hats, full beards, thick stockings rolled over just below the knee that use elastic supports with flashes, etc. even though they were not typically backward or ignorant.

But commonly is applied to any male who is ignorant, backward, stupid and probably inbred and invariably Caucasian.

Broadly equates to the US names that are made up of two names (such as BillyBob, EllaMae, JoeBob, NormaJean, etc) and character types such as redneck, hillbilly, and inbred.
"I want a nice quiet drink with no problems, so I won't go to spit and sawdust bars. Probably full of Jaapies, ain't they".
by blueliner49 January 30, 2010

(Urban Dictionary)

Here we see the sociolinguistic phenomenon where an affectionate, ingroup endonym is stigmatized by outsiders (including one's own parents) and turned into something derogatory. 

An example that I'm quite familiar with is "paesan".  Among Italian men I know, it is said with great affection, but it can also be said in such a way that it takes on negative connotations.


(n) (1) The shorted version of "paesano." Italian for "countryman", but can also be used to mean friend, brother, buddy, homeboy, or dawg among Italians. "Paesan" is actually the correct spelling, while "paisan" is the misspelled Americanized version.
(2)RARE: an Italian. When used to mean "Italian", paesan is usually friendly and non-offensive, but can be insulting if it is said in a contemptuous or patronizing way.
(1) Hey, paesan, wanna come cruising with us?
(2) Get yer greasy guinea ass outta here,"PAESAN"! We don't like your kind around these parts!
by Jam Master J October 31, 2005

(Urban Dictionary)


Selected readings


  1. Bloix said,

    April 11, 2022 @ 7:56 am

    So Jaapie from the Dutch for James has a parallel etymology to Yankee from the Dutch for John. Yankee has shed its country bumpkin past but it started out meaning what Jaapie means now.

  2. Rob (that Rob) said,

    April 11, 2022 @ 9:06 am

    Interesting indeed. Afrikaans and English mixed well together. I remember a film, "Ouma", which played on the amusing switching between the languages.

  3. SlideSF said,

    April 11, 2022 @ 10:52 am

    Sounds like Van der Merwe to me!

  4. Not a naive speaker said,

    April 11, 2022 @ 1:09 pm

    One more source:

    "Japie, n." Dictionary of South African English. Dictionary Unit for South African English, 2020. Web. 11 April 2022.

  5. Chips said,

    April 11, 2022 @ 6:47 pm

    A further Italian variation on the same lines as paesano.

    Many north Italians use the term "terrone" as an insult to refer to people from the South, eg Calabria and Sicilia. While its literal meaning is "of the earth", its insult is rendered as "peasant" and therefore inferior.

    But, as I witnessed at a farmers' rally in Palermo in 2005, participants greeted each other with joy, smiles and hugs as "terrone!".

  6. Tim Williams said,

    April 12, 2022 @ 9:29 am

    The Dutch side of my family used Jaap as a short form of Jacob although it also appears as a first name on its own up to the present day. There is a further variation of the name as a female first name Jaapje or Jaaptje. I have never heard of its pejorative use until reading this post.

  7. Jaap Scherphuis said,

    April 13, 2022 @ 7:19 am

    I agree with Tim – In my case Jaap is short for Jakob, so is equivalent to the English Jack or Jake. It is a slightly old fashioned name now, but was very common Dutch name a few centuries ago. I was also not aware of the pejorative sense in South Africa.

  8. Michael Watts said,

    April 13, 2022 @ 1:03 pm

    In my case Jaap is short for Jakob, so is equivalent to the English Jack or Jake.

    Hm? Jake is short for Jacob, but Jack is short for John. Always has been.

  9. Philip Taylor said,

    April 13, 2022 @ 1:40 pm

    The following quotation indicates that your assertion is not unvariably true, Michael —

    Sally Chase (1928-2017) was born Sala Silberstein to Daniel (1885/87-1942) and Estera (nee Hochberg, 1890-1942) Silberstein in Radom, Poland. She had seven siblings: Abraham (?-1942), Jakob (known as Jack, 1909-1989), Moses (1912-1943), Joshua (1915-1943), Pinchas (?-1944), Hadassa (later Helen Kaluski, 1922-1981), and Rosa (later Eisenberg, b. 1924).

  10. Chester Draws said,

    April 13, 2022 @ 8:26 pm

    As an added bonus, Yapie, has the long drawn out "a" sound that is the distinctive difference between their accent and the rest of English.

    So it sort of mocks their accent at the same time.

  11. Andreas Johansson said,

    April 14, 2022 @ 12:27 am

    "can be insulting if it is said in a contemptuous or patronizing way"

    That surely applies to almost any term for people.

  12. Michael Watts said,

    April 14, 2022 @ 8:41 am

    @Philip Taylor

    That would be a better counterexample if the person in question had been named in English. Is "Henry" short for "Heinz"?

  13. Bloix said,

    April 14, 2022 @ 2:22 pm

    "Jake is short for Jacob, but Jack is short for John."
    As Phillip Taylor has perhaps unwittingly pointed out, Jack was at one time a common nickname for Jacob among Jews. Not too long ago, Jacob and Jake were Jewish names, and Jack was an assimilationist name that could be used in more secular contexts. Jack Greenberg, the great civil rights lawyer who litigated Brown v Board, was born Jacob, as was Jack Cohen, the founder of the British supermarket chain Tesco's.

    This is much less common today, probably because Jacob and Jake have become popular among non-Jews and both John and Jack now sound old-fashioned.

  14. DDeden said,

    April 14, 2022 @ 10:24 pm

    I thought these were geographic dialects, Henry, Heinrich, Enrique (Ricky).

    Jack resembles Yakov (Jacob) more so than Jake does.

  15. Chester Draws said,

    April 14, 2022 @ 11:31 pm

    and both John and Jack now sound old-fashioned.

    Perhaps in the US, but outside it Jack is not even remotely old fashioned. In fact it is red hot.

    Jack was the most popular name in Scotland and Ireland in 2020. It is equally popular across England, Australia and NZ.

    Nor it this a new thing. Jack is easily the most common name for the boys at the school I teach at. They were born 12 to 17 years ago.

  16. Philip Taylor said,

    April 15, 2022 @ 3:02 am

    Not relevant to whether "Jack" is old-fashioned or otherwise, but perhaps nonetheless worth reporting that my late father, christened "Albert Ross Taylor" was called "Boy Taylor" within his family (including by his wife) but "Jack Taylor" by his colleagues at work. I have no idea from where "Jack" came.

  17. Universal★Rundle said,

    April 15, 2022 @ 11:57 am

    Just a note on Afrikaans orthography (correct me if I'm wrong?): Jaap and Japie are both spoken with the same long /ɑː/ vowel, but you write it with a double "aa" in a closed syllable, and a single "a" in an open syllable. (For the same reason, the third syllable in "Afrikaans" and "Afrikaner" is spelled differently but said the same.) So the double-a "jaapie" in the title, Urban Dictionary, etc., look like a hypercorrection?

  18. Bloix said,

    April 15, 2022 @ 11:07 pm

    Chester Draws-
    Interesting. According to one of my favorite websites, Jack as a given name in the US bottomed out in the 1970s but after being stuck in a trough made a comeback and has been climbing like a rocket in the last couple of years. In 2010, it was 45th most popular; in 2020, it was 21st.
    But John, starting from a much higher peak, has been on a century-long slide (much like Mary for girls), and as many Johns used to be Jacks the total number of Jacks (given names plus nicknames) is, I believe, much lower than it is used to be.
    Jacob, by contrast, went from nowhere in 1960 to the number one name in the country in the 2010s, but in the last few years it's been dropping fast and last year Jack overtook it. I guess I don't know enough little boys.


    Anyway, my main point – that at one time Jack was a nickname for Jacob among Jews because Jack was less ethnic than Jake – isn't affected by Jack's recent comeback.

  19. Philip Taylor said,

    April 16, 2022 @ 3:16 am

    "Anyway, my main point – that at one time Jack was a nickname for Jacob among Jews because Jack was less ethnic than Jake – isn't affected by Jack's recent comeback" — I have no strong feelings one way or the other regarding your (seemingly reasonable) hypothesis, but I would note that, to this reader at least, "Jack is less ethnic that Jake" does not ring true. Not until reading this thread had it even occurred to me that "Jake" might carry connotations of ethnicity — to me, it was just a male forename that was probably more common in America than in Great Britain.

  20. Michael Watts said,

    April 16, 2022 @ 11:56 pm

    I was also unaware of any ethnic connotations to "Jake". Jewish names very often have no such connotation — compare "Michael" — because of the Christian practice of taking names out of the Bible. Jacob is just a normal name used by normal Christians, much like Sarah, Rebecca, Mary, Samuel, Benjamin…

    Heck, the Social Security Administration is telling me that "Elijah" is currently the fourth most popular name for newborn boys, and that's one I would have thought of as overtly Jewish. (#2 is Noah, but that name is not overtly Jewish.)

  21. Bloix said,

    April 17, 2022 @ 9:42 am

    Michael Watts –
    One of the big trends in boys' names is the mainstreaming of Old Testament names. Most of these names used to be either Jewish or the province of certain traditionalist Protestant churches (e.g. Mennonites) and families descended from members of such churches (e.g. New Englanders with Puritan family histories) but now they're all over the place. Names like Aaron, Rueben, Joshua, Ethan, Adam, Isaac, Nathan, Jonah.
    There have always been a few Old Testament names in mainstream use – Joseph, David, Benjamin, Samuel. But many more have entered the non-denominational pool of popular names.

  22. Philip Taylor said,

    April 17, 2022 @ 9:55 am

    To your second (shorter) list, Bloix, I would add "Adam" (in a British context — no idea about North America) and "Josh" has become incredibly popular in the UK of late.

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