I am lucky that I work in an environment where I can speak English.  That being said, English is a relative term.

I work with Brits, Americans, Canadians and of course Israelis.

Sometimes I will be speaking and I will get blank looks.  I then realise I have used a South Africanism.

Here are a few words and phrases that I seem to use on a regular basis and that have gotten me those blank looks:

  • Sies/sis = Literally, yuck. An expression of disgust.
  • Lekker = Literally, tasty. Meaning nice or good. When someone feels not lekker they feel sick.
  • Howzit = A shortened form of ‘How is it?’ Or ‘How is it going?’ It is used as another way of saying Hello.
  • Eina! = Ouch! Apparently this is possibly from the {Khoisan} language. I always thought it was Afrikaans.
  • Eish! = Wow! an expression of amazement, I tend to use it when I cant believe how dumb/ridiculous someone has been.
  • Klap = smack. From Afrikaans.
  • Just now = This one gets me into trouble all the time! For most people (everyone that is not South African take this literally), it means right this minute. For South Africans it means sometime in the near future, not immediately.
  • Now now = THIS one means immediately.
  • Yebo = Yes. From Zulu.
  • Aswell = Me too. Funny that the Brits all seem to know this one.
  • Braai = BBQ
  • Takkies = Sneakers.

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You don’t really realise how your culture effects your language until you speak to people from other places. Coming from a country with 11 official languages, each of them adding there own flavour to the English language, it shouldn’t be a surprise.

Have you said something to another English speaker (from a different country/culture) and had them look at you funny??

5 Replies to “Lingo”

  1. Wait till you’ve been here a few years and you start using Hebrew interspersed with your English. Or translating Hebrew expressions into English and not understanding why the folks back home don’t know what you’re talking about.

  2. The worst is when you use the “chake rega” gesture (5 fingers together, facing outwards) in SA. Apparently it’s rude here 😛

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