Whenever you go to South Africa, don’t be confused in regards to the robots within the highway.
You received’t see a human-like machine strolling previous the automobiles. “Robotic” is just the South African English time period for “site visitors gentle.”
In reality, there are many distinctive English phrases that you simply’ll solely hear in South Africa. Whether or not you’re planning to journey or transfer there, or are simply interested in all of the native slang and dialects of English, you’ll wish to know a few of these phrases.
On this article, we’re overlaying South Africa’s linguistic historical past together with 40 distinctive South African English phrases. We’ll examine them to comparable American English phrases you would possibly acknowledge so their that means will likely be crystal clear.
However first, it’s time for a short lesson on the linguistic historical past of South Africa.
South Africa’s Wealthy Linguistic Heritage and Variety
It’s value noting initially that South African English is barely one of many languages spoken in South Africa, and it’s removed from being the most typical language spoken within the nation. South Africa is wealthy in official languages apart from English, together with the next:
- Zulu (That is the most-spoken language in South Africa.)
- Southern and Northern Sotho
English is at the moment solely the fourth most spoken language in South Africa, with lower than 10% of the inhabitants actively talking it. Nevertheless, English is understood by most South Africans in city areas and also you’ll hear English on South African TV and different media.
The historical past of the presence of Germanic languages like English and Afrikaans in South Africa is sadly not a cheerful one.
South Africa was colonized by the Dutch within the 1600s and the British within the 1700s, which is why English and Afrikaans are spoken there. Apartheid (Afrikaans for “separateness”), just like segregation within the U.S., was a racist coverage that upheld white South African rule over the indigenous inhabitants from the Forties to the late Nineteen Nineties. Underneath apartheid, black South Africans had been required to hold IDs, had only a few rights, couldn’t use public amenities and had been compelled to talk Afrikaans in class.
The truth that English is the principle language utilized in South African media and authorities bulletins as we speak when not everybody in South Africa even speaks the language reveals the continuing relationship between colonialist language and energy within the nation.
This doesn’t imply English doesn’t have a sound place within the nation. It does.
However it’s additionally necessary to grasp how various and wealthy South Africa is relating to language, in addition to the complicated historical past of English right here as a colonial drive. Many South African English phrases and slang are from the nation’s different languages.
Along with studying South African English, strive studying extra about Zulu, Xhosa or the Sotho languages. The extra you recognize about all of the languages spoken in South Africa, the higher you’ll do whenever you journey there!
Uniquely South African English Phrases, Phrases and Slang
American Model: “Jeez!”
This phrase originates from the Xhosa folks in South Africa. The phrase is used throughout just about all of South Africa in addition to in a number of neighboring international locations. It’s a novel phrase as a result of it doesn’t simply specific shock—it may well additionally present pleasure, disbelief or anger.
“Eish! You startled me there.”
2. “Ach man!”
American Model: “Oh man!”
This filler phrase is usually used to specific frustration, however it will also be utilized in just about any state of affairs at the start of a sentence.
“Ach man, I’ve such a hangover from final night time.”
3. “Ach, disgrace.”
American Model: “What a disgrace.”
South Africans use this phrase for just about any state of affairs, comparable to giving thanks, shouting reward or mourning. It’s positively essentially the most used filler phrase in South Africa, and a flexible one as effectively.
George: “I bought engaged final night time.”
Amber: “Ach, disgrace!”
4. “Let’s chow.”
American Model: “Let’s eat.”
Because it’s additionally utilized in another international locations, this one’s fairly self-explanatory. “Chow” means “eat.”
“I’m ravenous, let’s chow.”
American Model: “To punch”
This phrase is derived from the Dutch phrase for lightning strikes.
Be aware that it’s a impolite phrase and also you wouldn’t wish to use it in well mannered firm.
“You jerk! I’ll bliksem you!”
American Model: “Crap!”
South Africans love their filler phrases. This one can be utilized in any state of affairs the place you’d exclaim “Crap!” in American English. Nevertheless, it’s a bit ruder than that and may even be thought of a curse phrase. Don’t use this if you wish to make an expert impression!
“Kak! I’m late for sophistication!”
American Model: “Barbecue”
A standard South African “braai” consists of roasting lamb chops, boerewors (savory sausage) and steak. Salads, rolls and melktert (milk tarts) are usually served as effectively.
“Come right down to the braai, we’ve bought boerewors cooking.”
American Model: “Slap”
This one is complicated, because it sounds just like the English phrase “clap.” However it’s truly referring to a “slap,” or hitting somebody or one thing with the palm of your hand.
“I must klap you for saying that nonsense!”
American Model: “Bro” or “brother”
This phrase can be utilized to seek advice from an precise brother or a pricey male greatest pal. It’s an affectionate time period of endearment.
“He’s my boet, I can’t think about life with out him.”
American Model: “Fool”
This Afrikaans phrase got here into the language by means of Dutch, a Germanic language, the place it actually means “dumb head.”
The Germanic linguistic affect in sure components of South Africa and neighboring Namibia has lower than savory origins.
“He’s an actual domkop, that one.”
American Model: “Site visitors gentle”
The automated light-changing operate of a site visitors gentle resembles that of a robotic machine, therefore the slang time period. We will think about this phrase can be very complicated for somebody not from South Africa.
“I’ll meet you at college in 20 minutes. Take backstreets so that you simply don’t get caught at that robotic on seventh Avenue.”
American Model: “Ow!”
This can be utilized when experiencing any sort of ache, however it’s largely used when experiencing a pointy, sudden ache like a bee sting or a paper lower.
“Eina! I all the time lower myself on this paper.”
American Model: “How’s it going?”
This shortened model of “How’s it going?” simply rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?
“Howzit? I haven’t seen you shortly.”
14. “Is it?”
American Model: “Is that so?”
Like “howzit?” this shortened time period is simply nice to say in dialog.
Bradley: “I came upon as we speak that daddy lengthy legs aren’t even spiders.”
Kana: “Is it?”
American Model: “Sandwich”
Anna: “I might actually go for a sarmie proper about now.”
Kaya: “Yeah, how a few Gatsby?”
American Model: “Father” or “Dad”
Many languages use “baba” as a technique to say “dad,” however the South African time period is believed to have originated from Afrikaans or Indian.
“Inform your baba that it’s time to chow, the sarmies are prepared.”
American Model: “To steal”
To scale one thing is to steal it and an individual who’s “scaly” is a thief or in any other case sleazy particular person.
“She scaled my cheese poppers from Bossa final night time.”
American model: “Tasty,” “Good” or “Nice”
From Afrikaans (and initially Dutch), this phrase for “scrumptious” can even imply “nice,” “cool” or “superior.”
“That seafood restaurant is downright lekker.”
19. “Simply now”
American English: “Quickly”
This time period captures the customarily laid-back perspective of South Africans, and it signifies that you’ll get round to one thing within the close to future—however precisely when is unknown.
“Yeah yeah, I’ll repair the window simply now.”
American model: “Drink” or “Failed”
A “dop” is a small alcoholic drink, comparable to a gin and tonic. It will also be used as a verb that means “failed.”
“You wish to come round for a dop?”
“I completely dopped my examination.”
American model: “Pickup truck”
The pickup truck used for work, shifting or simply carrying round your pals has a catchy identify in South Africa. It comes from the Afrikaans phrase bak, which suggests “container.”
“Can I borrow your bakkie? I’ve to maneuver this weekend.”
American model: “Yeah”
This continuously used phrase simply slides off the tongue.
Dan: “You wish to go fishing this weekend?”
American model: “No method”
This phrase—which is definitely derived from South African mining pidgin, and the Zulu and Xhosa phrases with the identical that means—is used to specific shock, disbelief, refusal or disagreement.
“Aikona! That was an in depth name. Drive extra fastidiously.”
24. “Shap shap/Sharp sharp”
American model: “All good”
This cute repeating multi-use phrase with two pronunciation choices means “all’s good” or that the whole lot’s so as. It will also be used as a greeting, to specific settlement, and to specific enthusiasm. If these makes use of weren’t sufficient, it will also be used to imply “thanks,” “okay,” “sure” and even “goodbye.”
“Shap shap. See you on the seashore then.”
“Sharp sharp. All the things’s trying good. Thanks on your onerous work.”
Skinner is Afrikaans slang for gossip, and the one that does the gossiping is known as the skinnerbek, which accurately means “gossip mouth.”
“Don’t skinner about me, boet.”
Kif is derived from Arabic kayf, that means “enjoyment” or “effectively being” and it means cool, nice or superior.
“Trying good, boet. That’s a kif stand up you might have on!”
Shebeen was initially an unlawful tavern derived from the sibín, which suggests “illicit whiskey.” In South Africa, the phrase referred to unlicensed bars that had been arrange in townships throughout apartheid. It has since turn out to be a mainstream phrase used to explain many bars.
“You wish to head out to the shebeen?”
American model: “Pal” or “buddy”
That is one thing you name an in depth pal to specific your affection for them. It’s rooted within the British English “chum,” which suggests the identical factor.
“Chommie, recover from right here and let me purchase you a drink.”
American model: “Celebration” or “Occasion”
This multi-purpose phrase can be utilized for something celebratory, from a great time or a celebration to going out and dancing and having a enjoyable night time in town.
“Final night time was an actual jol.”
American model: “Grandmother” or “Older lady.”
This time period, which is from Zulu, is used as an indication of respect for older girls.
“I really like you, gogo.”
American model: “Patio”
From the Sesotho for “homestead” or “courtyard,” it is a phrase continuously utilized in South Africa to explain an out of doors patio and open-sided thatch-roofed occasion shed typically constructed in again yards.
“Come across the lapa. We’re having some folks over.”
American model: “Go away!”
This Afrikaans phrase is initially from the Dutch phrase voort seg ik (be off I say). As we speak, folks use it the identical method as “buzz off.” It may be thought of impolite, so watch out with this one.
“Voetsek! I’ve heard sufficient from you.”
American model: “Hangover”
It is a Xhosa phrase that South Africans use to explain that unfavourable day-after-drinking feeling.
“I’ve bought babellas from final night time.”
American model: “Trainers” or “Sneakers”
Brits say “trainers,” Individuals say “sneakers” and South Africans say “takkies,” which is believed to have originated from the English adjective “cheesy,” that means low-cost or poor high quality.
“I gotta get a brand new pair of takkies. Mine are worn out.”
35. “Examine you.”
American model: “So long.”
This useful exclamation is used to say farewell, often to a pal.
“That was enjoyable. Examine you.”
American model: “Present-off”
This uncomplimentary time period is from the Afrikaans phrases wind (wind) plus gat (gap), so it actually means “windhole.” It’s used to seek advice from blabbermouths or show-offs.
“He’s comparable to windgat. Nothing can shut him up about his new automotive.”
American model: “Porch”
From the Dutch stoep, that means “steps,” this phrase is often utilized in South Africa for a lined porch or verandah.
“Mother’s out on the stoep.”
American model: “Small city”
This time period means “village” and may seek advice from any small rural city. It comes from the Dutch (by means of Afrikaans) dorp (village).
“He’s from a dorp. Don’t anticipate him to know how round Jo’burg.”
39. “Tune me.”
American model: “I dare you.”
That is used whenever you wish to problem somebody as a provocation.
“Tune me, bro. I promise you’ll lose.”
American model: “Pal”
Many cultures stretch the that means of the time period “cousin” and South Africa isn’t any exception. Right here, it may well imply “pal” or “mate” in addition to your precise cousin.
“Recover from right here cuzzy. I want a hug.”
South African English is kind of distinctive, isn’t it? Mastering it may be a problem even for superior learners of English as a result of there are such a lot of slang and common linguistic variations between American English and South African English. Should you plan on travelling or shifting to South Africa, make sure you research up on these phrases and phrases!