Sunday, April 20, 2008

South Africanisms

In South Africa we have 11 official languages: Zulu, English, Afrikaans, Ndebele, Xhosa, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Siswathi, Tshivenda and Xitsonga. Most South Africans can communicate in their own tongue and, to at least some extent, in one or two others. But there is also another unofficial language that South Africans speak, which often has foreigners shaking their heads in puzzlement.

Here are some of those weird and wonderful South Africanisms:

lekker = yummy, nice, cute - pronounced "lacquer"
kiff = “cool” - pronounced somewhat like "key if"
Ja = Yes (Afrikaans) - pronounced "Yah"
sharp bru = cool dude - pronounced "sharp brew"
Jislaaik = “Good grief” probably comes closest - pronounced "yis like"
Ag shame = there is really no translation for this one, as its meaning depends on the context in which it is said. When looking a sweet little baby it means “oh cute”. When commiserating with Aunt Matilda regarding her faulty gall bladder, it would mean “Oh poor you” - pronounced "och shame"
Eish = this means anything from “oh dear!” to “OOPS” - pronounced "eee sh"
Just now = This is a very loose term! If a South African says “I’ll do it just now” they mean only that the thing will be done sometime in the future – it could be in a minute or two, or in a couple of hours.
Howzit? = “Hi There” or “How are you?” - pronounced "how's it?"
“Ja well no fine” = this defies definition, it means something along the lines of “Whatever!”
Bliksem = dammit
wemame = oh my goodness - pronounced (roughly) "where ma may"
Voetsak! = get outside (when addressed to a dog), get lost! - pronounced "foot sack"
Sjoe = My goodness - pronounced "shoe"
Muti = medicine - pronounced "moo tea"
Eina = ouch - pronounced "ay nuh"
smaak = like very much - "smark"

Thanks to Rethabile for the following additions:
tekkies / takkies = sneakers pronounced "tack keys"
bakkie = pick up truck, utility vehicle, ute - pronounced "buhk key"

Confused yet????

Hopefully my fellow South African bloggers can add to this list - please leave any others you can think of in the comments!


Regina said...

Wow, simply amazing! I have a hard enough time mastering the English language let alone another one. Amazing how one word can mean so many different things, that must be confusing.

Rethabile said...

There's "bakkie" and "tekkie", pick up truck and sneakers, respectively.

Jeanne said...

fundi - expert as in "he's a real sports fundi"
dagga - as in marijuana
china - friend, as in "me and my china are going to the movies"
cherry - girlfriend

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