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Thread: South African English

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    South Africa

    Default South African English

    Seeing that there is language lessons going on in the peotry thread I thought you guys might find this intressting...I found this on one of our tourism websites..and had such a i didn't realise that people have such a hard time understanding our me this is just the tip of the iceberg but it would give you enough to survive in SA... Enjoy..let me know which ones you like..also let me know if you want a word to be described more...
    There is a great variation in general South African English, which ranges from a near similarity to the London Cockney to a broad variety of South African English. One of the main features of the standard form is also the clipped pronunciation, which means that some syllables or word endings are swallowed while speaking.

    One of the main aspects of the Standard South African English is the great influence of African languages and Afrikaans. These languages influence the pronunciation, lexis and grammar. The phonology of South African English is similar to many southeast English varieties, but the phonetics of South African English is more related to the phonetics of New Zealand English.

    South African English grammar differs in only a few features from Standard English as apposed to the differences of Australian and New Zealand English to Standard English.


    All-purpose response question is it?
    Q.: He has written the letter.
    A.: Oh, is it? (Oh, has he?)

    The non-negative usage of no as an introductory participle.
    Q.: How is your mother?
    A.: No, she is fine, thanks.

    Very rare use of auxiliary + do, e.g. I might do etc.
    Occurrence of adjective + infinitive instead of adjective + of + participle e.g. This plastic is capable to withstand heat. (This plastic is capable of withstanding heat.)

    The lexis of South African English can be divided into six word groups:
    Loan words: words adopted from other African languages, e.g. veld (plain), kopje (hill), kaross (plaid)

    Common English words with specific meaning, e.g. dirt (gravel road), land (field, e.g. wheat land)

    Words common to other varieties of English, e.g. fossick (to rummage), dingus (what's it)

    Words with special meaning concerning tradition and history, e.g. commando (Burgher units of militia), nation (African tribe), mealie (ear of maize)

    Colloquialisms and slang words: words from Afrikaans and other African languages, e.g. braai (grill meat), howl (weep)

    Different usage of adverbials and prepositions, e.g. in place of (instead of), come there (arrive)

    South African English Words
    Ag ('ach' as in the German 'achtung')
    This is one of the most useful South African words. It can be used as a stalling mechanism in reply to a tricky question, as in: "Ag, I don't know." Or a sense of resignation: "Ag, I'll have some more pap then."

    Aita ('a-tah')
    A greeting, which originated in the townships among the youth. "Aita my friend."

    Bakkie ('Buk-ky')
    A pickup truck. "You can sit on the back of my bakkie."

    South African for cinema.

    Boet (Pronounced 'boot' as in 'foot')

    This is an Afrikaans word meaning 'brother' which is shared by all language groups. 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.

    The South African word for the 'trunk' of a car.

    Braai ('Bry')
    It is the first thing you will be invited to when you visit South Africa. A braai is a backyard barbecue and it will take place whatever the weather.

    A flimsy plastic carrying bag. The name originates from a large South African convenience retail outlet that was the first to provide plastic carrier bags for groceries.

    A friend, acquaintance, or a stranger. "Aita, my China!"

    The South African word for potato crisps.

    Donner ('dorner')
    A rude word that comes from the Afrikaans "donder" (thunder). It means 'beat up.' Your rugby team can get donnered in a game, or your boss can donner you if you do a lousy job.

    Dop ('dorp')
    The word has two basic meanings; (a) A dop is a drink, a cocktail, a sundowner or a noggin, and (b) To dop is to fail (academically).

    Eina ('Ay-nah')
    Expression of pain (Ouch!). Widely used by all language groups. "Eina! That was sore."

    The South African word for an apartment.

    To graze means to eat. If you are invited to the bioscope, you may be asked: "Do you want to catch a graze first?"

    Often used at the end of a sentence to emphasise the importance of what has just been said, it can also stand alone as a question. Instead of saying "Excuse me?" or "Pardon?" when you have not heard something directed at you, you can say: "Hey?"

    This is a universal South African greeting, and you will hear this word throughout the land. "Howzit my mate?"

    Isit? ('Izzit?')
    Used as a response to just about anything. From the English "Is it really?" 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?"

    The South African word for jelly, e.g. peanut butter and jam.

    Ja-nee ('Yah-near')
    This is a conversation fallback word. Derived from the two Afrikaans words 'yes' and 'no' and can be used to indicate agreement, disagreement or indifference.

    Jawelnofine ('Yah-well-no-fine')
    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 ('Yis-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 a lot of people, hey."

    Just now
    Some time soon, in the near future but not any specific time. "We are going just now."

    Klap ('klup')
    An Afrikaans word, meaning 'smack', 'whack' or 'spank'. If you spend too much time at the bioscope at exam time, you could end up catching a sharp "klap" from your Pa.

    Lekker ('lacker') An Afrikaans word meaning 'nice', used by all language groups to express approval. "That was a lekker swim in the sea."

    The South African word for an elevator.

    Ma ('Mar')
    Term of address for 'mother'.

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

    Oke ('oak')
    Any male adult that is not a friend or family.

    Pa ('Par')
    Term of address for 'father'.

    Pap ('pup')
    Unrelated in any way to canines, this word has two entirely different meanings, apparent only from the context in which they are used. As a porridge made from mealies, you will be invited to "Have some pap with your wors" at the inevitable braaivleis. Alternatively, in answer to your question, "Howzit?" you might hear, "Ag, I'm feeling a bit pap today", meaning 'flat' or 'off-colour'.

    Pasop ('pussop' - with the 'o' as in 'organise')
    From the Afrikaans phrase meaning "Watch Out!" This warning is used and heeded by all language groups. Sometimes just the word "pasop!" is enough without further explanation. Everyone knows it draws a line not to be crossed.

    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.

    The South African word for a traffic light.

    Sarmie ('sar-me')
    This is a sandwich. For generations, school-children have grazed sarmies during lunch breaks.

    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.

    These are sneakers or running shoes. The word is also used to describe automobile or truck tyres. 'Fat tackies' are big tyres. "Where did you get those lekker fat tackies?"

    Tune grief
    To be tuned grief is to be aggravated or harassed. "Don't tune me grief."

    Vellies ('fellees')
    Shoes that are usually hand made, using roughly finished leather - one level better than no shoes at all. "He wore a new suit to his son's wedding, but his old vellies!"

    Vrot ('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 tackies (sneakers) 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".

    Wors ('vawrs')
    A South African sausage (made of beef and/or pork) eaten with pap at a braai.
    Wasn't me...I Promise ;)

  2. #2
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    South Africa


    Sorry I have a lydexic experience every now and then..I meant Poetry...
    Wasn't me...I Promise ;)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    somewhere in the middle of nowhere


    OMG, that's kinda confusing. 8O but thanks, for the info.
    "I wanna get out of here..."

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    In the words of Robin Williams: "the whitest f***ing state in the union"...It's true.


    Thanks for posting that. I love learning new slang words. I'm gonna use some of those now.

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