South African Slang


This was a previous post, but seeing how my audience has changed so much lately, I am posting it as a page. Any questions?

No?

Good.

Let’s begin:

Braai: What is a braai? 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. So you will have to go even if its raining like mad and freezing cold. At a braai you will be introduced to a substance known as mieliepap, which the locals call edible.

Ag: This is one of the most useful South African words. Pronounced like the “ach” in the German “achtung”, it can be used to start a reply when you are asked a tricky question, as in: “Ag, I don’t know.” Or a sense of resignation: “Ag, I’ll have some more pap then.” It can stand alone too as a signal of irritation or of pleasure.

Donner: A rude word, it comes from the Afrikaans “donder” (thunder). Pronounced “dorner”, 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.

Eina: Widely used by all language groups, this word, derived from the Afrikaans, means “ouch.” Pronounced “aynah”, you can shout it out in sympathy when someone burns his finger on a hot potato at a braai, or eats mieliepap thats too hot.

Hey: 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?” 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”

Isit?: 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 hang of a lot of people.”

Klap: Pronounced “clup” – 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 dracalwing out the last syllable. You might, however, get a klap.


Tekkies: These are sneakers or running shoes. The word is also used to describe automobile or truck tyres. “Fat tekkies” are big tyres, as in: “Where did you get those lekker fat tekkies on your Volksie (VW), hey?”

Dop: This word has two basic meanings, one good and one bad. First the good. A dop is a drink, a cocktail, a sundowner, a noggin. If you are invited over for a dop, be careful. It could be one or two sedate drinks or a blast, depending on the company you have fallen in with. When you get invited to a braai, you will inevitably be asked to bring your own dop. Now the bad: To dop is to fail. If you dopped Standard Two (Grade 4) more than once, you probably won’t be reading this.

Sarmie: 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: “Ill 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 ” buht” as in “put”, 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.

Pasop: From the Afrikaans phrase meaning “Watch Out!”, this warning is used and heeded by all language groups. As in: “Your mother hasn’t had her morning coffee yet Boet, so pasop and stay out of her way.” Sometimes just the word “pasop!” is enough without further explanation. Everyone knows it sets out a line in the sand not to be crossed.

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.

Graze: In a country with a strong agricultural tradition, it is not surprising that farming words crop up (pun intended) in general conversation. Thus to graze means to eat. If you are invited to a bioscope show, you may be asked: “Do you want to catch a graze now now?.

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 providing you’ve brought your own dop.

Scale: To scale something is to steal it. A person who is “scaly” is not nice, a scumbag, and should be left off the Christmas party invitation list. If he does rock up, don’t give him any pap, donner him boet, and scale his dop, hey.

This is a compilation from a website that no longer exists. I didn’t write this. But I can’t give credit to who did. If you find out, you are welcome to give credit in a comment below!

Advertisements

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. MiSS RAmbLEs  |  June 23, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    hahahaha i’ve only jst seen this… you make me miss SA alot. went to uni there!

    Reply
  • 2. Pocohanthas  |  July 17, 2009 at 8:52 am

    wow, o.k?
    I’ve never heard of graze…or scale. As for tune grief, wow, youve taught me something? in which town/province do people actually use those 3 phrases? lol
    But over all, a good job. you should put it on youtube, like all the other americans trying to explain safa slang, i reckon you’d do a pretty good job 🙂

    Reply
    • 3. touchingjoy  |  July 17, 2009 at 9:02 am

      Yeah, I know right? I have actually heard those with my own ears, mostly in Durban. Like I said though, I didn’t write it. A born and bred South African did 🙂

      *Although I still consider myself South African. I’ve been here long enough, and been through enough South African experiences to have earned the badge*

      *wink*

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


%d bloggers like this: