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I recently came across the phrase じゃないんじゃない in this sentence:

Clerk: 「でも うちで売{う}ってるアイスじゃないんじゃないかしら。」

For context, some kids are claiming they have a winning popsicle stick but the clerk can't seem to recognize it.

Here, I believe the clerk is saying But I don't think we sell this kind of ice cream here.

However, the じゃないんじゃない is throwing me off because it looks like it's negating the sentence while also asking for confirmation, as if the clerk doesn't believe her own words or something.

How should じゃないんじゃない be translated here?

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でも うちで売ってるアイスじゃないんじゃないかしら

「~じゃないかしら。」「~じゃないかな。」 can mean "I suspect..." "I think..." "Isn't it...?"

うちで売ってるアイス means "ice cream that's sold in our shop". (うちで売ってる is a relative clause that modifies アイス.)

So the sentence basically means...

"But, it is not the ice cream that we sell, is it?"
"But, I think it is not the ice cream that we sell."

  • Yeah, this does make the most sense. It also conforms to how we initially wanted to translate it. Many thanks! – Floating Sunfish Jun 25 at 7:03
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The かしら makes this a bit confusing, as I don't think that a female shop attendant would use the word in recent years.

But, this is a good example when the way you say it (especially intonation) gets crucial. The double negations are very common.

Also, even the single <​X>じゃないか? could mean both (although I guess more often it is used in a meaning "I thought <​X> was the case but are you really telling me that <​opposite of X> is the case???". No research behind, though, and the opposite meaning is also common.)

Just imagining the context, I would guess the shop clerk is in a polite way saying "C'mon, you say you didn't buy it here, you really think I believe you???"

p.s. Sometimes you even see triple negations (even if not counting eg もったえない as a negation) Among natives, these may be perceived as a incapability to express ones message clearly, in English, like in "No, I don't think that people think that you are a person who does not tell your child not to do things when he/she is doing something he/she should not be doing."

  • Thanks for the info! For context, some kids are claiming they have a winning popsicle stick but the clerk can't seem to recognize it (I updated my question to reflect this). – Floating Sunfish Jun 25 at 6:21
  • I am not a native English speaker, and don't have a clue what is a popsicle stick ;-(, but based on the "winning" I assume it is some "lottery ticket", so I guess my guess was wrong, i.e. she is saying we don't even carry that ice cream (that you claim you won). – Tuomo Jun 25 at 6:45
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    Are you familiar with small ice creams on a stick? The stick is called a popsicle in the West. Google Image should give you a good idea of what they look like. Again, many thanks for the info! – Floating Sunfish Jun 25 at 6:47
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    Note: If you want < and > to show up in your answer, just add a backslash (\) in front of it. If you don’t, the parser will think you wanted to type HTML and will parse it as such (which will leave it invisible); the backslash escapes the character and tells the parser to treat it as a literal ‘greater/smaller than’ character to be printed. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jun 26 at 8:41
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    < > ☜このカッコには backslash 効かないですねえ。。 \<X\> って書いても消えちゃいます。 ゼロ幅スペース入れて、<&#8203;X> ☜こうしたら見えるようになりました。 ところで「もったない」じゃなくて「もったない」? – Chocolate Jun 28 at 17:28

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