“Just saying” is a new version of old turn of phrase, just saying.
I love language. It is all arbitrary sounds associated with meaning that we create in our heads. How amazing is that? That we can communicate with each other at all astounds me. We have layered meaning on meaning and teach everything to each new generation. That is what culture is. While our brains are hardwired, so to speak, for language acquisition, there is no specific language or culture to which we are predisposed at birth.
It is even more staggering that we can not only learn all that we do, but that we also learn to be deceitful. Then recursion on top of recursion, we can also say something, treat it like a lie, but imply that it is really true but that we are not saying that. We are freakin’ amazing!
The first time I noticed this stuff was late in life, like 10 years ago, while living in Virginia, when I was clued in to the fact that you, me and every church lady in the country, but particularly in the southern U.S., can something terribly mean, scathing, snarky, and generally just not nice about someone, but make it okay to say in “polite” society, by simply adding the words, “bless his (or her) heart” at the end of the disparaging sentence and magically whatever preceded the phrase is neutralized and acceptable to say, except that everyone knows that it isn’t.
An example would be, “Poor Sally, her cooking is so bad that hungry goats wouldn’t eat it; bless her heart.”
The phrase, “just saying,” seems to work in the same way. I’m not a linguist though I studied the area a bit in Grad School, but this seems like it would be interesting, and maybe informative, to study how the two phrases are used in real life conversation, by whom, and in what situations.
Maybe the phrase, which seems to have enjoyed an increase in use, is used by groups who are not allowed to honestly express themselves. Just saying…