This guy knows what I’m talking about.

Just a short one for today, as I want to spend the remainder of my day off out there in the sunshine!

South African English has proven to be full of delightful expressions that are just too good not to pick up. If you hear me using these in everyday speech, now you’ll know what the heck I’m talking about. Spend enough time here, and I bet you’ll find yourself using these words too!
Without further ado…

My 9 Favorite South African Words & Phrases (so far):

1. Lekker
    (Nice, great, good. Can be used to describe just about anything. From the Dutch word.)

2. Robots
    (Traffic Lights. I have no clue why they’re called robots.)

3. Isit? 
    (Is that so? Really? Oh yeah? Response to just about anything. Hard not to use once you start.)

4. Braai
    (Barbecue, both the verb and the noun. But somehow way more fun to talk about.)

5. Boet (5b. Bru)
    (A bro, “bru” then being the term boets would use to address one another… as I understand it.)

6. Yoh!
    (An exclamation of surprise, like “wow!” Pronounced with an aspiration on the “Y.”)

7. Aswell 
    (Me too. Emphasis on the “as.”)

8. Now now
    (Expresses immediate action—kind of. This should be #1, as it’s my new favorite expression.)*

9. Shebeen 
    (An illegal shop/drinking establishment. I haven’t been yet, but I can’t wait to go so I can use this word more frequently.)**

Well, there you have it. Come visit me in Cape Town—and you won’t be entirely lost in the verbaiage.

South African friends? Feel free to correct me if I got something wrong. Or share your favorite words, and I’ll add them to the list!


*The precise meanings of “now now” and its close counterpart, “just now” are quite nuanced and difficult to describe succinctly. Suffice it to say that neither of these actually promise imminent action.
**Update: Shebeens are no longer illegal, it would seem, and now hold licenses like any other store/restaurant in Cape Town… though it seems likely that illegal shebeens still exist!