South Africanisms by AJS

South Africa finds itself in the midst of a bit-of-a crisis. 

With power outages at a record high, it has thrown other public utilities into turmoil, most notably Joburg Water which has stated that reservoirs across Johannesburg are either too shallow for water to be pumped to towers, or are at critically low levels. All this during a heat wave in a La Nina year (although – on the Highveld at least – the rains have yet to arrive). 

It’s enough to drive the most positive South African and avid member of the #imstaying movement into a bit of a slump. 

·       Click on the links below for a laugh and a trip down memory lane… 

But, when Castle LITE debuted their ad “Lite ‘n Up” it ignited within the team at AJS a renewed sense of humour (and optimism) – because let’s be honest if the formidable Derek Watts can laugh at himself, then all of us can. 

We are a nation that prides itself on our eccentricities. We have “South Africanisms” that only a true “home-grown” South African will fully understand – no matter where in South Africa you hail from, no matter which of the 11 official languages is your first language and no matter your culture. Once a South African, always a South African. 

It was then that we remembered the ad by Santam Insurance which was titled  “One-of-a-kind” and it gave us goosebumps. It is perfect for times like these.

We truly are a one-of-a-kind country. One which embraces all of our differences in a way that enables us to look towards the future with a sense of hope – no matter the obstacles we see before us. We have a way of laughing at ourselves in order to not only make light of a situation but also in an effort to fix the problem. 

Whether we are having a laugh at a former President, to remixes of “pay back the money” to jokes about Stage 7 loadshedding (no jokes) we are not afraid to poke fun at ourselves. And its because of this attitude that we get through the bad stuff. It’s because we poke fun at ourselves that we can overcome and endure. Because if there is one word that describes us as a nation, it is resilient

So, we thought we would take a look at some South Africanisms to instill – in all of us – a sense of national pride. Because even when the chips are down, we still live in a beautiful country filled with beautiful people, breathtaking scenery, and awe-inspiring nature.  

Forget all the hassles (for a moment) and let’s take a moment to remember who we are and why we are so unique.

South Africanisms

There are just some sayings and some slang that is quintessentially South African (we encourage you to read until the end). It really makes you giggle. Even when you are miles away from home, someone murmuring one of these has us aching to return home as quick as possible (blaring Toto’s Africa seems appropriate right about now).  

With reference (and thanks) to some older articles (which are still relevant today) by Times Live and News24 here is a list of commonly used South African slang that makes us laugh at the absurdity of the inexplicable things we say, which undoubtedly make us truly South African.

1.     Babbelas: a hangover. 

2.     Bakkie: a two-seater light vehicle with an open rear cargo area. The rear is often used to transport an impossible number of workers or to fill with water in order to have a bakuzzi on the way to the rugby game. Referred to as a “pick-up” in other countries. 

3.     Bakuzzi: a portable jacuzzi in the back of your bakkie. 

4.     Bliksem: a negative thing. It means to hit, strike or punch. It can also refer to a kak situation or be used in place of other swear words. 

5.     Boet: means “brother” it is also an affectionate term for a friend, similar to “dude” or “buddy”.

6.     Bonnet: the thing under which your car’s engine sits.  

7.     Boot: the thing you pack before going on a road trip or where you put your shopping bags. 

8.     Bring and braai – the same as a “chop ‘n dop”. You bring your meat and phuza to someone’s house and the host provides the salads and sides and the braai to cook your meat on.

9.     Braai: what the rest of the world refers to as a “barbeque”. 

10.  Car guard: a car guard is a person who has taken it upon himself to watch your car while you go into a shop to ensure it remains where you left it. In return for a tip. It’s worthwhile noting that if your car is stolen, you will still be expected to tip the car guard. 

11.  Chips: not the potatoe crisps you eat, this means to “watch out”.

12.  Chop ‘n Dop. The same as a “bring and braai”. This is a casual braai where you bring your own meat and drinks, and the host provides the rest.

13.  Cozzie: what South African’s call a swimsuit. 

14.  Dof: stupid.

15.  Dop: similar to phuza, dop means both an alcoholic beverage and to drink the alcoholic beverage. 

16.  Doss: means to “sleep”. U

17.  Dice: refers to cars racing from one robot to another. 

18.  Duck: to leave somewhere. 

19.  Dummy – is the contraption you give to a crying baby. What other countries refer to as a pacifier. 

20.  Eina (Ay-Na): kind of like saying “ouch”. But more expressive. 

21.  Eish (Aysh): multiple use word. It encapsulates many emotions – joy, surprise, confusion, anger. When in doubt, use it.

22.  Eita (Ay-Ta): means the same thing as “Howzit”. 

23.  Gatvol: this means you have had enough of someone or something. Emphasis on the “g”. 

24.  Gherkins: we eat gherkins with burgers and sandwiches. What the rest of the world refers to as pickles. 

25.  Howzit: you arenot actually asking a question here. It’s the same thing as saying “hi”.

26.  Flip: used to express anger, annoyance, contempt, impatience, surprise, or simply for emphasis. It is used in place of other swear words.

27.  Fringe: what is referred to as “bangs” in the rest of the world. 

28.  Graze: means to eat.

29.  Hundreds: a positive expression. Meaning you are in agreement with something or that everything is going well in life. Usually repeated twice in a sentence as in “Hundreds, boet, hundreds.” Can also be used as a way of simply saying yes.

30.  Is it? pronounced “uzz ut”. It’s a way of expressing interest in what someone is saying. Similar to” Oh really?”.  

31.  Ja-well-no-fine: this really has no meaning. Or put more accurately, no one really knows what it means. We just say it at the end of a conversation. As if to say, “moving on”. 

32.  Ja-Nee: literally translated to yes-no. Which is extremely confusing. Like ja-well-no-fine there is no real understanding of what this contradictory statement means. Did something happen or didn’t it? Do you agree or don’t you agree. Both possibly.

33.  Jol: this simply means party. It is also both a noun and a verb. For example, “That was a lekker jol” or “I went jolling last night”.  

34.  Just now: a completely indeterminate amount of time. It could mean anything from 5 mins to tomorrow, to never. So, it means both in the near future and in the near past but never immediately. 

35.  Kak: Literally “shit” or rubbish. An expression of dislike or distaste.

36.  Kiff: nice, good, cool.

37.  Kokie: felt tip pen.

38.  Laduma: something you shout when a goal is scored. It has the most impact if you hold the u for as long as possible, with the “ma” choked out right at the very end.

39.  Lag (luuggh): to laugh. It can also be used to describe a scenario that was funny.

40.  Lank: meaning a lot of something.

41.  Lekker: great, awesome, amazing.

42.  Mampara: a mampara is an imbecile or an idiot.

43.  Matches: something we light a fire with. A game is something that is played. Like a Rugy game.

44.  Mos: mos is mos is mos. Its just to emphasise something in a sentence. 

45.  Mzansi: an enduring name for South Africa.

46.  Now-now: don’t confuse this with “Just now”. Now-now is a much smaller indeterminate amount of time. 

47.  Phuza: can either mean a drink or a drinking session. Most notably “Phuza Thursday” which is a noble tradition in South Africa. 

48.  Pull-in: come or arrive, especially to a place/event that is amenable.

49.  Robot: this is not a referral to AI or some kind of cyborg. This is what we call a red, orange, and green traffic light. 

50.  Scheme: to think or plan to do something, evolved from the hyperbole “What are you scheming?” 

51.  Sharp-sharp! another multiple use word. It could be an expression of agreement, a greeting, a way of saying goodbye and even a way of saying “sure”.

52.  Shisa Nyama: a zulu slang expression for “buy and braai”.  

53.  Siff: meaning something is gross or disgusting. 

54.  Skop: this means to kick. It also means to kick out. For example, you skop the ball or you skop someone out your house.

55.  Takkie: sneakers.

56.  Tsotsi: is a term referred to young boys who commit crimes. 

57.  Traffic circle: a roundabout. 

58.  Tune: to talk back to someone.

To put some of the above South Africanisms into use – 

AJS is a lekker kiff local company that was formed in Mzansi in 1979. We provide sharp-sharp legal accounting and practice management software to lank clients across the continent. We provide best-in-class service, so much so that we believe that we skop the competition to the curb. We scheme that you should drop us a line to say howzit and we can pull-in to your business to see how we can best assist you. 

Don’t be a mampara and wait until just-now to get in touch. You mos tune us on exactly what you need – we would love nothing more than to help you get up and running. Laduuuuuuuuuuuma!

During a time that is uncertain and even slightly kak, it is always lekker to be able to have a bit of a lag mos. 

South Africa is truly a one-of-a-kind country with amazingly unique people. 

What a country!

– Written by Alicia Koch on behalf of AJS


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