Tuesday, 17 November 2009

South Africanisms

The things only South African’s say…

Babbelas (pronounced bub-buh-luss)
This refers to a morning-after hangover.

Bakkie (pronounced bucky)
This commonly used word refers to a small pick-up truck.

Biltong (pronounced bill-tong)
This South African favourite is dried and salted meat, similar to beef jerky, although it can be made from ostrich, kudu, beef or any other red meat. It is synonymous with rugby, another South African favourite.

Braai (pronounced br-eye)
This is the popular South African version of a barbecue where meats such as steak, chicken and boerewors (boo-ruh-vorss) are cooked. Boerewors is a traditional spicy South African sausage made of beef or lamb and is also referred to as wors (vorss). Chances are that you will also be introduced to pap en sous (pup en sohss) at a braai. Pap is boiled corn meal, and sous is the sauce it is covered with, usually featuring tomato and onions.

Cooldrink or Colddrink
This is the common term for a soda. Ask for a soda in South Africa and you will receive a club soda. 

Coca-Cola is a colddrink or cooldrink, as is Pepsi.

A traditional South African greeting that translates roughly as "How are you?" or "How are things?"

This is another great word to use in conversations. Derived from the two words "is" and "it", it can be used when you have nothing to contribute if someone tells you something at a braai. An expression frequently used in conversation and equivalent to "is that so?" (Really?!)

"Just now"
If a South African tells you they will do something "just now", they mean they will do it in the near future but not immediately. For example, the appropriate reply to "Why don't we go shopping now?" if you wish to go a little later is: "No, let's rather go just now."

Koki (pronounced koh-key)
A coloured marker or felt-tip pen.

Lekker (pronounced lekk-irr with a rolling r)
Afrikaans word meaning nice or cool. "That was a lekker party".  It is also often used in association with food, as in: "That wors is lekker.". 

South Africans tend to refer to traffic lights as robots. 

An example of usage would be when giving directions: "Turn left at the second robot."

Colloquial term for a sandwich. 

If you are going on a picnic and your hosts tell you they have packed sarmies, you will at least know they have remembered to pack something to eat.

Gossip, as in: "Have you heard the latest skinner?" Someone who talks behind someone's back is known as a skinnerbek.

Slap chips (pronounced slup chips)
French fries, usually the large, soft and oily type of chips. Also vinegar-drenched and bought in a brown paper bag. 

"Slap" is an Afrikaans word meaning "limp", which is how French fries are generally made here. If that's not how you like them, be sure to order them "crispy".

Running shoes or sneakers. 

Sometimes used in conjunction with the word fat, as in "fat tackies", it describes extra wide tyres. Example: "Look at the fat tackies on that motorbike!"

This is not intended to comfort but means shortly, as in: "I will be there now now."

Ag Shame! (pronounced like the "ach" in the German "achtung")
This one is used a lot! 

Can be used in various contexts as in "that's adorable!" or "that's horrible!" can be confusing but it’s always a reaction to something.

Eina! (pronounced “ay-nah”)
Widely used by all language groups, this word, derived from the Afrikaans, means "ouch." 

You can say it in sympathy when you see your friend the day after he got donnered by his wife.

Eish Wena! 
Its lekka to live in Sauf Efrika!


cat said...

Great stuff girl! I am also working on something similar - I thought it might entertain the Americans. I also have that other K word on my list - the best swearword in the world.

blueviolet said...

I'm so glad you did this. Really fun! I want to use the words now. :)

Marcelle said...

I'm so freaking homesick after reading this entry...You are so right, these sayings I do all the time...LOL...
Thanks for putting a smile on my face today as I remember how different we are from the rest of the world...xx

Kathryn said...

Love the "robots"! Hilarious! I'm guessing the "locals" always know when someone's...well, not!

Mark Eames said...

Where would we be without the richness of the Afrikaans language????

Makes language in SA beautifully expressive, if you are in the know!

Carrie said...

Wow, I had never heard ANY of these.

angel said...


KK said...

Cool, I'd have no idea what anyone was talking about!

Rochelle said...

Love it! It's so weird, I read an article last night in the YOU, about the same stuff. I'm currently in South Korea and misses my magz, you know "mos".But this is great!

Anonymous said...

awesome blog, do you have twitter or facebook? i will bookmark this page thanks. jasmin holzbauer

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info! We're making a custom pair of slippers for you :)” oh wow thank you!!


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