September 28, 2007

How to understand South Africans!

My friend, Nana, sent this to me and I had to share.

Nana is a South African who emigrated to Las Vegas last year to marry her fiance. They got married on 1 Jan 2007 - isn't that sweet?!

Anyway, here goes. I'm not posting the entire list but this gives you a good idea of South African lingo (Ali, you can confirm :))


Edited to add: a braai is a barbeque. This is a true South African pastime :)

'Excuse me?' or 'pardon?' when you have not heard something directed at you, you can say: 'Hey?'

If you want to use it at the end of a sentence, you can say something like 'Ag donner, this mieliepap is very hot, hey'

Is it?: This is a great word in conversations. Derived from the two words 'is' and 'it', it can be used when you have nothing to contribute if someone tells you at the braai: 'The Russians will succeed in their bid for capitalism once they adopt a work ethic and respect for private ownership.' It is appropriate to respond by saying: 'Isit?'

Jawelnofine: This is another conversation fallback word. Derived from the four words 'yes', 'well', 'no' (q.v.) and 'fine', it means roughly 'how about that.' If your bank manager tells you your account is overdrawn, you can say with confidence: 'Jawelnofine. '

Jislaaik: Pronounced 'Yiss-like', it is an expression of astonishment. For instance, if someone tells you there are a billion people in China, a suitable comment is: 'Jislaaik, that's a lot of people.'

Klap: Pronounced 'klup' - an Afrikaans word meaning smack, whack or spank. If you spend too much time at the movies at exam time, you could end up catching a sharp klap from your Dad. In America, that is called child abuse. In South Africa , it is called promoting education. It's what you do to the guy who gave you the hot mieliepap.

Lekker: An Afrikaans word meaning nice, this word is used by all language groups to express approval. If you see someone of the opposite sex who is good-looking, you can exclaim: 'Lekkerrr!' while drawing out the last syllable. You might, however, get a klap.

Takkies: These are sneakers or running shoes.

Sarmie: (I actually detest this word) This is a sandwich. For generations, school-children have traded sarmies during lunch breaks. If you are sending kids off to school in the morning, don't give them liver-polony sarmies. They are the toughest to trade. Definitely not lekker.

Bakkie: This word is pronounced 'bucky' and it is a small truck or pick-up. Young men can take their 'cherrie' (g/friend) to the drive-in flick in a bakkie, but it is not always an appropriate form of transport because the seats usually don't recline and you may be forced to watch the film. This is never the purpose of going to a drive-in flick.

Howzit: This is a universal South African greeting, and you will hear this word throughout the land. It is often used with the word 'No' as in this exchange: 'No, howzit?' 'No, fine.'

'Mrs Balls' Chutney: We don't know if the lady ever existed, but if she did, she has earned a place of honour in South African kitchen history. Chutney is, of course, of Indian origin and is pickled fruit prepared with vinegar, spices and sugar. South Africans are known to eat it with everything, including fried eggs. Some even put it on their mieliepap.

'Now Now': In much of the outside world, this is a comforting phrase: 'Now, now, don't cry-I'll take you to the bioscope tomorrow.' But in South Africa, this phrase means a little sooner than soon: ' I’ll clean my room now now, Ma.' It is a little more urgent than 'just now' which means an indefinite time in the future.

Tune grief: To be tuned grief is to be aggravated, harassed. Be selective about using the term. For example, if your bank manager calls you in for an urgent chat about your overdraft, you should avoid saying: 'Hey, listen. You're tuning me grief, man.' That would be unwise and could result in major tuning of grief. There are variations. You can say about your boss: 'This oke (guy) is tuning me uphill.'

Boet: This is an Afrikaans word meaning 'brother' which is shared by all language groups. Pronounced 'boot' as in 'foot', it can be applied to a non-brother. For instance a father can call his son 'boet' and friends can apply the term to each other too. Sometimes the diminutive 'boetie' is used. But don't use either with someone you hardly know - it will be thought patronising and you'll probably get donnered, hey.

Skop, Skiet en Donder: Literally 'kick, shoot and thunder' in Afrikaans, this phrase is used by many English speakers to describe action movies or any activity which is lively and somewhat primitive. Clint Eastwood is always good for a skop, skiet en donder flick.

Vrot Pronounced - 'frot': A wonderful word which means 'rotten' or 'putrid' in Afrikaans, it is used by all language groups to describe anything they really don't like. Most commonly it describes fruit or vegetables whose shelf lives have long expired, but a pair of takkies worn a few times too often can be termed vrot by unfortunate folk in the same room as the wearer.

Also a rugby player who misses important tackles can be said to have played a vrot game - but not to his face because he won't appreciate it. Pasop. We once saw a movie review with this headline: 'Slick Flick, Vrot Plot.' However, it is mostly used to describe the state of the drunk boets at the braai who finished all their dop.

Catch a tan: This is what you do when you lie on the beach pretending to study for your matric exams. The Brits, who have their own odd phrases, say they are getting 'bronzed'. Nature has always been unkind to South African schoolchildren, providing beach and swimming pool weather just when they should be swotting for the mid-summer finals. If you spend too much time catching a tan at exam time, you could end up catching a sharp klap from your Dad.

Rock up: To rock up some place is to just sort of arrive. You don't make an appointment or tell anyone you are coming - you just rock up. Friends can do that but you have to be selective about it. You can't just rock up for a job interview or at a five-star restaurant. You give them a tinkle first - then you can rock up. You can, however, rock up at a braai.

Of course, as with any other country's slang, most people actually DON'T speak like this all the time.

P.S. Please ask me if I need to clarify anything - I can see there might be other terminology which may not be familiar to you.

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Ali la Loca said...

Ummm...hello? Where is "braai" on this list?

And reference was made to mealiepap, but it wasn't explained at all!


Anonymous said...

Please don't forget about "Nogal". This one is becoming a real hit amongst the english speaking South African's as well.LOL

Marcia said...

Hmm, true!

I'll have to "wikipedia" it because I have no idea how to explain it :)

Coach J said...

I just found this post and am LOVIN' it!! :) It's going to take me a while to reread and reread it so I commit all this to memory--this is great!!