South African lingo

13 02 2012

So while I’ve been here, I’ve picked up some South African lingo!  Here’s some examples, so you don’t make fun of me when I come home and talk like a South African.

  • South Africans like to add “yea” or “hey” for confirmation at the end of sentences.  Ex. “You’re going to dinner at 6, yea?” Some people have commented that Americans like to say “I know, right?” in conversation. It’s like that … except they say ‘yea’ and ‘hey.’  Also they use ‘hey’ instead of ‘what’ so if you didn’t hear someone correctly, you would ask, ‘hey?’ for clarification.  I definitely use ‘yea’ in a lot of my conversation now … so don’t be surprised if I say it in conversation with you.
  • Something that probably won’t enter my vocabulary is the South African terms of “just now” and “now now.”  Now now means soon, but could be anywhere from in two minutes to in thirty minutes or more. Ex. “I’m on my way to your house, I’ll be there now now,” even if you live twenty minutes away.  “Just now” is more in the distance and is an ambiguous amount of time.  Ex. “I’ll book that plane ticket just now,” means you’ll book it today, tomorrow, or the next day.  This vocabulary I think translates really well in terms of the idea of ‘South African time’ where everything is kind of ambiguous and there’s not so much care for time.
  • They use the word “shame” just as it sounds .. but instead of a phrase like, “that’s a shame” they just say ‘shame.’  It might sound weird, but it works.
  • The South Africans I’ve talked to also like to use the word “hectic” to describe a number of things.  It can mean cool, crazy, interesting, intense, and a number of other adjectives. The one thing it definitely doesn’t mean is the actual definition of hectic according to the English language.
  • South Africans also use “must” more than the average American.  Ex. “Should I wear this black dress?” “Yes, you MUST!”
  • Howzit” is pretty self explanatory.  So is “isit” – it’s used in substitution of ‘really?’ and is used in conversation all the time. I really like using ‘isit’ instead of really, it just sounds more exciting.
  • The intonation of the way South Africans talk is also a little different – the intonation of the sentences at the end goes up just a little.  It’s noticeable enough that I can hear it and have started talking like it when I’m around South Africans.
  • There’s also a difference between who is actually considered an Afrikaner and who is not.  Apparently, according to some of our friends, an Afrikaner is a person who speaks Afrikaans at home, AND also went to an Afrikaans school.  If a person speaks Afrikaans at home or can understand it, but went to an American school, they’re considered ‘English.’  It’s an interesting divide between the languages and races here, for sure.
  • Side note: I LOVE South African accents.

That’s all for now .. here’s a photo or two.  I’m almost done with uploading all my pictures thus far to Flickr, so I’ll be able to link you all to that photo page soon!

South African sunsets are beautiful.

Nelson Mandela quote at the Apartheid Museum




One response

16 02 2012

I love hearing about English slang in different countries! Can’t wait to here you use it when you come back to Joysey!

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