Like most countries, South Africans have very their own language; and while we completely understand what now now means, others may not. The first rule of understanding a South African is that time is relative.
In actual fact we have three time zones: There’s now – now, now – and just now. As similar as they sound, they all have very different meanings. Now could be any time from today to tomorrow – it has a medium time frame.
Now, now, is more immediate and could mean in the next few minutes or hours. Just now is the one to be careful of, it could mean right now or never – or anytime in-between right now and forever. Tricky hey? Not so much if you’re South African.
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Here are a few other South African words with alternate meanings:
- Ja no
This means yes and no at the same time. It is not used to agree or disagree to a question, it is more of a statement.
Used in a sentence: Ja, no, I did hear about the neighbour’s daughter marrying that man she met only a month ago.
- Borrow me
This is the one that stumps all english speakers outside of South Africa. Borrow me directly translates to lend me. The origin of this wrong use of words is unknown, but it has been passed down from generation to generation and grows in strength.
Used in a sentence: Borrow me R500, I will give it back to you month end. (Month end: at the end of the month).
- Shap Shap
Shap Shap means goodbye. It evolved or rather devolved from the word sharp, sharp – which is also used to substitute the word goodbye.
Used in a sentence: Shap shap, check you later.
- Is It?
Another phrase of expressing oneself in disbelief. It also means, is it true?
Used in a sentence: Is it? I thought they had broken up already.
- Shot Left
Shot left means around the corner. The problem with this term is similar to now now – it doesn’t specify how far away that corner is. It could mean around the corner on your road or it could mean a different province – so question which corner to get a more localised answer in regards to distance.
Used in a sentence: Take a shot left down this road, and you’ll find his house.
- Let’s dice
This has absolutely nothing to do with gambling or dice per say. Let’s dice means do you want to race? And if you’re invited to dice, you bet it’s going to be illegally on a dimly lit street with cars parked along the side of the road waiting to laugh at your demise. Don’t be fooled into believing you could win this one.
Used in a sentence: What are you doing on Friday night? Let’s dice!.
- Fixed up
This is a simple enough, it means the problem has been resolved. Buuuutttttt, it can refer to absolutely any situation from your car to a reservation for dinner or your marital problems at home.
Used in a sentence: It’s fixed up, we check into the hotel at 2pm on Saturday.