<p style="margin: 0px 0px 15px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 12px; color: #666666; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 16.796875px;">Learn to speak Seffrican! <p style="margin: 0px 0px 15px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 12px; color: #666666; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 16.796875px;">Language. <p style="margin: 0px 0px 15px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 12px; color: #666666; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 16.796875px;">Wikipedia defines language as ‘a system of visual, auditory or tactile symbols of communication and the rules used to manipulate them’. Let’s apply this to South Africa, where there are eleven official languages, incidentally making us the number two in the world for most languages spoken. A census conducted in 2001 named our top four:
Bearing South Africa’s tainted and interesting history in mind one can only imagine to what level all these different languages have been mixed, matched, rehashed and combined. It’s happened a lot more to our languages than say, Vernon Koekemoer’s summer wardrobe. You could go as far as planting eleven different plant seeds in a medium-sized McDonald’s Coke cup.
What would you find ten years down the line?
You’d find a towering mix of plants with no apparent endings, a strange, intricate hodgepodge of colours, meanings, fragrances and expressions. Mixing any two plants could bring on a meaningful conversation. Smoking another could make you laugh. Getting to know one plant and knowing another explicitly could make you feel good. And if this plant is a representation of all the languages we speak in SA, it would never die.
During those longer road trips in SA you get to notice how many different accents there hear. You even hear people use multiple languages in the same sentence: “Eish! I tuned you not to blow chunks near the boerie, bru!” And there’s even talk of a new finger-based language of symbols employed by pushy Joburgers on their way to work. It’s the first known language used to communicate directly with taxi drivers!
Partly thanks to those South Africans who take pride in being able to swear in eleven official languages, there are many unofficial languages too. South African slang transcends all boundaries and is loved by most, except maybe your English teacher. Our languages have plenty of clicks, clucks, slips of the tongue and babelaas-inspired expressions that will leave you charfing us for more.
To the dictionary, ek sê!
Your definitive Saffa Slang Resource! Each letter of the alphabet gets three slang words, struesbob!
Ag: is ‘Oh no!’, as in ‘Ag no man, how can it be raining again.
Aita: is a greeting, as in ‘Aita bru, I reckon we hit Camden market today.’
Arvie: means ‘afternoon’ as in ‘I reckon I’m going to chill in the common this arvie dude.’
Babalas: means hangover, as in ‘Yissie that Dutch beer gave me a babalas today.’
Biscuit: commends someone, as in ‘Go Hamilton you biscuit! Go!’
Boet/Bru: means friend, as in ‘I would dig to have a beer with you, my bru.’
Chips: is a warning, as in ‘Chips for that siren oke! That’s when the cops come!’
China: is your friend, as in ‘My china why haven’t you hooked up the speakers yet?’
Chookie: is jail, as in ‘He didn’t chips for the siren, and now he’s in chookie.’
Dop: is a drink, as in ‘I’ve heard there is cheap dop at that off license.’
Donner: is to punch or hit, as in ‘If those chavs don’t stop making noise I’m going to donner them!’
Dwaal: means dizzy, as in ‘This muggy London heat leaves me in a dwaal.’
Eish: is an exclamation as in ‘Eish! I thought I saw David Beckham for real today!’
Eina: means pain, as in ‘Eina man! Stop kicking that football at me!’
Ek se: means ‘I say’, as in ‘Let’s go out on the London town tonight, ek se.’
Fully: is an affirmation, as in ‘That DJ’s set was fully wicked my man.’
Fanks: is saying thank you, as in ‘Fanks for my birthday present!’
Frot: means drunk, as in ‘Why did you get so frot and pee against the wall last night?’
Goof: means to swim, as in ‘Let’s go take a quick goof at Wimbledon park.’
Goose: is one’s girlfriend, as in ‘Last night I took my goose to a movie.’
Graft: is one’s work, as in ‘I start new graft tomorrow, wish me luck!’
Hectic: is a describing word, as in ‘Yoh but those Snakebites at that club were hectic!’
Howzit: is a famous Saffa greeting, as in ‘Howzit! How are you doing?’
Hundreds: is an expression, as in ‘I slept in late so I’m feeling hundreds today!’
Indaba: is a meeting, as in ‘Have you seen the cool stuff at that art indaba?’
Ish: indicates worry, as in ‘Ish, I’m not too sure about this Thames eel pie.’
Izit: is an expression of interest, as in ‘Izit? You say I can make biltong at home now?’
Jeet: means go, as in ‘I’m tired of this place boet. Let’s jeet!’
Jislaaik: means anger or wonder, as in ‘Jislaaik it but the London Eye is tall!’
Jol: means party, as in ‘That was one of the best jols I have ever been to!’
Kief: means cool, as in ‘That Vernon Koekemoer is one kief oke!’
Klap: means hit, as in ‘Do that again and I will klap you my friend.’
Kuif: means hair fringe, as in ‘Any less kuif and that’ll look like a mullet china.’
Larney: means fancy, as in ‘Last night we went to this larney jol.’
Lekker: means nice, as in ‘I am having a lekker time in London!’
Legend: is a compliment, as in ‘You my dear sir, are a legend.’
Mal: means crazy, as in ‘I wouldn’t mess with those football yobs, those okes are mal.’
Mif: means unpleasant, as in ‘China your room smells as mif as my grandma’s socks.’
Moegoe: means a twit, as in ‘That Mugabe is a real moegoe don’t you think?’
Naff: means wimpy, as in ‘That is a naff shirt you are wearing.’
Naught: means bum, as in ‘I came short and fell on my nought. It hurts now.’
Nooit: means no, as in ‘Nooit bru, I will always be a Liverpool supporter.’
Oke: means guy, as in ‘Did you see that weird oke on the Tube?’
On a mission: indicates action, as in ‘That oke is always on some kind of mission.’
Ou ballie: is an older man, as in ‘Boet if you don’t turn it down, that ou ballie is going to klap you.’
Park off: means to chill out, as in ‘Can’t we just park off at this restaurant a little bit longer?’
Poepal: is an insult, as in ‘That bouncer is a real poepol, I’m not even drunk yet!’
Porzie: is someone’s house, as in ‘Can’t we just chill at your porzie for the afternoon?’
Shot: means thank you, as in ‘Shot for the heads up mate, I’ll take the District line instead.’
Sif/Sis: denotes unpleasantness, as in ‘Sis man! Get your face off that toilet seat!’
Struesbob: means the truth, as in ‘I saw Cheryl Cole naked today, struesbob!’
Trap: means to walk, as in ‘Let’s take a trap down to Notting Hill.’
Tune: means to engage in conversation, as in ‘I’m going to go tune that oke about a job.’
Twak: means tobacco, as in ‘Can I bum some of that twak off you please?’
Vaai: means to leave, as in ‘Let’s just finish these beers and vaai.’
Vloek: is to swear, as in ‘I’m going to vloek that oke just now, bru.’
Voetsek:is to chase something away, ‘Voetsek you doves, voetsek!’
Wettie: is a cold drink, as in ‘Yoh, it’s hot, I need a wettie right now!’
What what: means something, as in ‘That guy tuned me what what but I didn’t understand!’
Windgat: means speed freak, as in ‘Gee, that old lady on the electric wheelchair is a real windgat!’
Yinnah: means wow, as in ‘Yinnah it’s a hot day today!’Yoh is said in amazement, as in ‘Yoh, yoh, yoh! That is one fine-looking lady!
Yowza is also said in amazement, as in ‘Yowza that Ferrari is lekker.’
Zol: is marijuana, as in ‘I don’t like people who smoke zol on Sundays.
Zonked: means drunk, as in ‘That guy was so zonked on Saturday, it was quite funny.’
Zippit: means keep it down, as in ‘I told you to zippit!’
So there you have it. A mere drop in the ocean of South African culture, language and expression.
If you’re from South Africa, chances are that you’ve heard all of these words in a million different ways. If you’re not South African, then I’d suggest you learn as many of these words as you can bru, because you’ll fast become a legend amongst your South African mates!