Learning the Lingo…

The thought occurred to me the other day that if I am moving to a different country then it would be courteous of me to learn the lingo. It all started when I was tagged in a post on Facebook which talked about differences with the South African version of English. The best part is, there are a lot of similarities. For example, we both say ‘plasters’ and ‘gherkin’. However, there are some crazy differences:

1. “Now, now” and “just now”. Here in the UK, they both mean different things. ‘Now, now’ means that you will do something absolutely immediately and ‘just now’ means that you have done it a few minutes ago. However, if you are using these phrases in South Africa, they mean that you will do them in a minute. I think this one is going to take me a while to get used to!

2. The Naartjie. When I first saw this, I had absolutely no idea what this was. I was so confused, which wasn’t helped by the fact that I had literally no idea how to pronounce it! (Turns out it is pronounced naarchy.) But, now you are all dying to know what a naartjie is, I shall tell you. It is quite simply an orange! Madness.

An orange. Or a naartjie

3. Dicing. This is not throwing some dice or cutting up vegetables really small but what we would call having a drag race!

A drag race. Or having a dice

4. Robots. Now, these are not what you would expect. They are actually traffic lights. But they are not known as an instruction; they are only seen as advisory… I think my driving may take a back foot if no one follows road signs and traffic lights! I may be scared for my life! And for a bit of fun, Trevor Noah does this epic comedy sketch about South Africans and traffic lights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mU35XlTkLnA

5. Takkies. When I asked some friends earlier what they thought these were, there were numerous different suggestions.The suggestions ranged from Blue Tak to paper clips. But I don’t quite think they were anticipating that takkies are actually trainers. Aimee, a good friend of mine, then made the suggestions that takkies and trackies would work really well together, not just because they rhyme! I was also talking to Dad about this earlier and he mentioned that trousers are known as pants in South Africa. But, this then raised the question, what would they call pants? Any suggestions or real answers to the question would be much appreciated! 

As well as learning the quirks of the language I already speak, I thought it would be a good idea to attempt to learn the language that around 80% of people in East London, SA speak – Xhosa, pronounced Cossa with a click. It is actually proving to be incredibly difficult so whilst giving it a shot, I procrastinated and decided that watching comedy sketches that involve Xhosa. This is because it also turns out that the language, Xhosa, is great for comedy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHa5Ezocfno

Here is the link to the blog post I got my inspiration for this blog from: http://aboveandbeyondtravelcc.com/2015/09/18/12-odd-south-african-expressions-that-drive-the-world-crazy/


2 thoughts on “Learning the Lingo…

  1. ok firstly a “naartjie” is pronounced naarchy but it is NOT an orange. We have a lot of citrus fruit here and it is a kind of a blanket name (I think) for all small satsuma type fruits, they are easily peeled usually and are usually very sweet but you do get variations. I think I should write an article for you with the many other differences I can think of. some I thought of are: A “couple” does not usually mean 2 unless you are talking about a guy and a girl as a couple. Trousers in UK are pants in SA; Ladies underwear are usually called panties and guys jocks or boxers. Takkies are running shoes or casual shoes, “slops” or “slipslops” are slip on shoes usually having rubber soles and things between the toes


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