SOUTH AFRICAN DICTIONARY
This is one of the most useful South African words. Pronounced like the
"ach" in the German "achtung" it can be used to
start a reply when you are asked a tricky question, as in "Ag, I
don't know." Or a sense of resignation "Ag, I'll have some
mieliepap then." It can stand alone too as a signal of irritation
or of pleasure.
* DONNER A rude word, it comes from the Afrikaans "donder"
(thunder).Pronounced "dorner", it means "beat up."
Your rugby team can get donnered in a game, or your boss can donner you
if you do a lousy job.
* EINA Widely used by all language groups, this word,
derived from the Afrikaans means "ouch." Pronounced "aynah",
you can shout it out in sympathy when someone burns his finger on a hot
mealie at a braai.
* HEY Often used at the end of a sentence to emphasise the
importance of what has just been said, as in "Jislaaik boet, you're
only going to get a lekker klap if you can't find your takkies now, hey
?" It can also stand alone as a question. Instead of saying,
"excuse me?" or "pardon?" when you have not
heard something directed at you, you can say
* ISIT? This is a great word in conversations. Derived from the
two words "is" and "it", it can be used when you
have nothing to contribute if someone tells you at the braai "The
Russians will succeed in their bid for capitalism once they adopt a work
ethic and respect for private owner-ship." It is quite appropriate
to respond by saying, "Isit?" *
*JAWELNOFINE This is another conversation fallback word. Derived
from the four words "yes", "well", "no"
and "fine", it means roughly "how about that?"
If your bank manager tells you your account is overdrawn, you can
say with confidence "Jawelnofine."
* JISLAAIK Pronounced "Yis-like", it is an expression
of astonishment. For instance, if someone tells you there are a billion
people in China, a suitable comment is "Jislaaik,
that's a hang of a lot of people, hey?" *
*KLAP Pronounced "klup" - an Afrikaans word meaning
smack, whack or spank. If you spend too much time at the movies at exam
time, you could end up catching a sharp klap from your pa. In America,
that is called child abuse. In South Africa, it is called
* LEKKER An Afrikaans word meaning nice, this word is used by all
language groups to express approval. If you see someone of the opposite
sex who is good-looking, You can exclaim "Lekkerrr!" while
drawing out the last syllable.
* TACKIES These are sneakers or running shoes. The word is also
used to describe automobile or truck tyres. "Fat tackies" are
big tyres, as in "Where did you get those lekker fat tackies on
your Volksie, hey?"
* DOP This word has two basic meanings, one good and one bad.
First, the good. A dop is a drink, a cocktail, a sundowner, a noggin. If
you are invited over for a dop be careful. It could be one or two sedate
drinks or a blast, depending on the company you have fallen in with. Now
the bad. To dop is to fail. If you dopped Standard Two (Grade 4) more
than once, you probably won't be reading this.
* SARMIE This is a sandwich. For generations, school children
have traded sarmies during lunch breaks. If you are sending kids off to
school in the morning, don't give them liver-polony sarmies. They are
the toughest to trade.
* HOWZIT This is a universal South African greeting, and you will
hear this word throughout the land. It is often used with the word
"no" as in this exchange "No, howzit?".
"No, fine.", "No, isit?".
* WHAT'S POTTING Local vernacular for " Whats happening
" or " What's up" . This term has no gardening
* BIOSCOPE A local word now losing a little fashion meaning movie
theatre, cinema, flicks or pictures, depending on which part of the
world you come from.
* JUST NOW Contrary to it's apparent meaning, ' just now ' can
mean anytime from now right through to the next millennium.Asked
to do a job you don't particularly like, you would reply "Ja,
I'll do it just now"
* NOW NOW In much of the outside world, this is a comforting
phrase "Now, now, don't cry - I'll take you to the
bioscope tomorrow." But in South Africa, this phrase means a little
sooner than soon. "I'll clean my room now now Ma.",
knowing that you
will receive a well deserved ' klap if you don't do it at once. It
is a little more urgent than "just now".
* BOET This is an Afrikaans word meaning "brother"
which is shared by all language groups. Pronounced "boot" as
in "foot", it can be applied to non-brother. For instance a
father can call his son "boet" and friends can apply the term
to each other too.
Sometimes the diminutive "boetie " is used. Don't use the term
with someone you hardly know - it would be thought patronising.
*PASOP From the Afrikaans phrase meaning "Watch out!"
This warning is used and heeded by all language groups. As in
"Your ma hasn't had her morning coffee yet Boet so pasop and stay
out of her way." Sometimes just the word, "pasop!" is
enough without further explanation. Everyone knows it sets out a line in
the sand not to be crossed.
* VROT Pronounced "frot". A wonderful word which means
"rotten" or "putrid" in Afrikaans, it is used by all
language groups to describe anything they really don't like. Most
commonly it describes fruit and vegetables whose shelf-lives have long
expired, but a pair of tackies (sneakers) worn a few times too often can
be termed "vrot" by unfortunate folk in the same room as
the wearer. Also a rugby player who misses important tackles can be said
to have played a vrot game-but not to his face because he won't
appreciate it. We once saw a movie review with this headline
"Slick Flick, Vrot Plot."
* JA-NEE Afrikaans for "Yes/No" in English. This
expression's origin is believed to have originated when a family
member starts talking politics what else do we talk about in South
Africa?) and you don't want to cause a political argument and get
klapped or donnered, then every now and then you mutter, "Ja-Nee."
(pronounced yah - near).
* GRAZE In a country with a strong agricultural tradition, it is
not surprising that farming words crop up (pun intended) in general
conversation. Thus to graze means to eat. If you are invited to a
bioscope show, you may be asked "Do you want to catch a graze
* CATCH A TAN This is what you do when you lie on the beach
pretending to study for your matric exams. The Brits, who have
their own odd phrases, say they are getting "bronzed". Nature
has always been unkind to South African school children, providing
beach and swimming pool weather just when they should be
swotting for the mid-summer finals. If you spend too much time
"catching a tan" at exam time, you could end up catching
sharp "klap" from your pa.
* ROCK UP To rock up at some place is to just sort of arrive. You
don't make an appointment or tell anyone you are coming - you just rock
up. Friends can do that, but you have to be selective about it. You
can't just rock up for an interview or at a five star
restaurant. You give them a bell first, then you can rock up.
* BELL South African vernacular for telephone call as in "
Ja Boet, I'll give you a bell just now " which means phoning
anytime from now to eternity.
* SCALE To scale something is to steal it, A person who is
"scaly" is not nice, he's a scumbag and should be left off the
Christmas party invitation list