Did you know that South Africa is also one of the major English speaking countries in the world? Have you heard of any South African English slang?
So, in this post, I will be introducing a few South African slang which I thought is rather interesting to us Indonesians.
South African slang seems different to any other English slangs that might have existed… or it could also be a different English as a whole. Just like Singaporean English (Singlish), which we’ve discussed in a previous posts, South Africans adapt several languages too.
“South African English has a flavor of its own, borrowing freely from Afrikaans, which is similar to Dutch and Flemish, as well as from the country’s many African languages. Some words come from colonial-era Malay and Portuguese immigrants.”
“Note: In many words derived from Afrikaans, the letter “g” is pronounced in the same way as the “ch” in the Scottish “loch” or the German “achtung”– a kind of growl at the back of the throat.”
So with that in mind, let’s see some of the words they have:
1. Shame. We might think this is a bad word, but in South Africa it is actually quite endearing in social engagements
“Seriously, when in doubt, just say “Ag shame” and your sentiment will be greatly appreciated.”
A: “My brother won a million bucks yesterday.”
2. Babelaas. It sounded like “bablas”, eh? It means hangover. “Babelaas” is also written “Babbelas.”
3. Lekker. One Dutch word quite known to a lot of people, meaning “good.”
- Ag (pronounced “Agh” or “ach”) “Ag” generally used at the beginning of a sentence, to express resignation or irritation.”
Or known as another way saying “Oh man” – It “is a filler word. We South Africans love our filler words” – used positively too.
It could be “Ag no man! What did you do that for?” or “Ag, I had a great time last night.”
5. Ja, nee. Meaning: yes, no – we who speak little English would think these two words are the most helpful, but here they say both.
“These two words are often used in succession to express agreement or confirmation.”
“Ja, nee I’m fine thanks.”
6. Jawelnofine. Meaning: yes-well-no-fine – A more complicated one to understand but used for resignation or accepting unpleasant situation.
A: “The school fees have increased by over 20% this year?”
Jawelnofine is also another way of saying “How about that?”
7. Bioscope. Like the Indonesian bioskop or Afrikaan’s bioskoop meaning cinema.
8. In Singlish we have a different use of the word “later”. In South African slang, the word “later” means “just now.”
“Just now” is an unknown amount of time. They mean they’ll do it in the near future – not immediately.
“I’ll do the packing just now”
9. Eish (pronounced aysh). “Eish” used to express surprise, wonder, frustration or outrage – like Indonesian’s “eits.”
- #EngClass: Also, too, either
- #USSlang: American slang
- #UKSlang: UK slang
- #AUSSlang: The Australian way
- #IOTW: A few Singlish idioms