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South Africa Slang

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Here we translate South African English and a bit of Afrikaans to American English and Spanish.

Howzit, my China! Don’t check me skeef.

Ag Shame – I feel sorry for you (often sarcastically used); also: how sweet! (e.g. in reference to a child, or a young animal) – Lo siento por ti (usado frequentamente con sarcasmo)
Arvie – Afternoon – Tarde
Avo – Avocado – Aguacate
Ayoba – Great/awesome (especially ‘lekker’ in a South African way)
Bafana Bafana – South Africa national football team (literally: the boys) – Equipo de futbol sudafricano (literalmente: los jovenes / los muchachos)
Biltong – Beef jerky – Carne seca
Bliksem – To beat someone up as in ‘I will bliksem you’ – Golpear
Bobotie – Local food consisting of spiced minced meat baked with an egg-based topping – Comida local con carne horneada
Boep – A protruding or distended belly: see beer boep – Panzon
Bok – Keen, willing; also ‘darling’ (as in ‘My bok.’ Diminutive – ‘My bokkie’) – Listo, capaz
Bokke – the Springboks (the South African national Rugby Team: always spelled with capital R & T!)
Braai – Barbecue – Parrillada
Brinjal – Eggplant
Bru (or brah) – Mate, buddy – Cuate
Buskers – street performers
Cafe – convenience store (don’t expect a hot cup of coffee here) – La tiendita de la esquina
Catch a tan – Get a suntan – Broncear
Catch a wake-up – get with the programme
Cool-cool – fine, good
Crash – to sleep (Can I crash at your pozzie tonight. bru?)
Donner – To beat up – Madrear
Dop – a drink (alcoholic drink) – Un tragito
Dorp – Town/village = Pueblo
Enkosi – Thank You (Xhosa)
Graze – To eat – Comer
Hola – what’s up, cool, thanks
Hol rug gery – literally ‘hollow back ridden’ – when an issue has been overworked, or something has been done to death (as in – when a horse’s back has become hollowed from being ridden too often) . That Lady Gaga song? Hol rug gery.
Howzit – Hello – Hola
I’m burning – ?
Indaba – Gathering – Encuentro
Izit – Is that so? = De veras? = No me digas
Ja-nee – Yes, no – Yes, I understand you/hear you, and no (often used as a vague confirmation of agreement) – Si y no (pero más si!)
Jol (have a jol) – A party or having a good time – Una gran fiesta
Jozi (pronounced: ‘Joe-zee’) – Johannesburg, also Jo’burg – Johannesburg
Just now – Soon (usually a bit later than now now) – Ahora (más o menos pronto)
Kief – Cool, awesome – Chido (That’s a kief shirt bro)
Kuier – to visit. Pronounced kay-er (Nooit, brah, I can’t come jolling, the toppies are kuiering)
Laduma (laduuuuuuuuuma) – Loud, long cheer when a goal is scored- Goooooooool
Lapa – Thatched outdoor shelter, usually for entertainment – Palapa
Lekker – Awesome, cool (local is lekker!) – Chido
Load shedding = Interruption of the electricity supply
Makoya – Authentic, the real McCoy – Autentico
Mzansi – South – Sur (Zulu)
Masihambeni! – Let’s go! – Vamos! (Xhosa)
Mealies – Corn – Maíz
Meisie – missy or little girl – Chica
Nooit – Never. Pronounced noyt
Now now – Soon – Ahorita
Nyama – Beef or game meat
Oraait – All right – Esta bien
Outeniqua rust – everything takes longer when you’re in the Outeniqua region (the Southern Cape – around Knysna and George. You know: the Garden Route). A little like the concept of mañana – although without quite the same sense of urgency.
Padkos = Road food
Plakkies (pronounced: ‘pluck-keys’) = Flip-flops or Thongs or Double Pluggers (Australia), Jandals (New Zealand) = Chanclas
Pozzie = Home
Robot = Traffic light = Semaforo
Rock up – To arrive, to turn up somewhere – Llegar
Saffa – South African – Sudafrikaner (audio cue: Saffastuff.com)
Sawubona = Hello (Zulu)
Sharp – Cool, thanks, see you later (also ‘sharp sharp’) – Chido, todo bien
Skinner – to gossip (only more so)
Smaaklike ete – enjoy your meal (bon appetit) – Sabroso
Swak = weak
Tekkies = Sneakers – Zapatillas de deporte
Toppie (or old toppie) = father
Toppies (or old toppies) – parents
Ubuntu – Human kindness (wikipedia)
Vasbyt – Hang in there – Aguanta
Veld = Wide open rural spaces = Planicias o sabana
Voetsek – Go away (usually said to dogs) – Vete / largate
Vuvuzela – Stadium horn – Trompeta
Watertand lekker – Lip-smackingly good!
Yebo – yes (Zulu) – Si

Nya (said with wink)

Elsewhere on the Web
South African slang; a comprehensive look

South Africanisms

Playlist of Cape Town Accents

National anthem
South African Slang
South Africa English
Grokking the kluge – ?
What a wally – what an idiot!
Much of a muchness – it makes no difference

Traveler Tip – If you are uncertain about a particular expression or word, just say, ‘…’

Oke – guy, bloke. We also say ‘ou’, pronounced ‘oh’. “That lightey (youngster) is a good ou.”
outjie which literally means aprox a very young old guy
Words that are pronounced differently in South Africa and the USA
herb (it’s got an ‘H’ at the beginning!)



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