Travelling South Africa
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South Africa     SOUTH AFRICAN SLANG Show services:
South Africa has 11 official languages. In addition, there are many words unique to this country. This is a list of the more common words that will leave many a visitor puzzled.

Bag Refers to kissing someone or hooking up with them. Can be used as Did you bag? or Did you get baggings? meaning Didyoukissormake-out with someone?.
Bakkie A utility truck, pickup truck or ute in Australia
Bergie Refers to a particular subculture of vagrants in Cape Town (from Afrikaans berg (mountain), originallyreferringtovagrantswho sheltered in the forests of Table Mountain.) Increasingly used in other cities to mean a vagrant of any description.
Biltong Cured meat, similar to jerky
Bioscope Cinema, movie theatre (now dated)
Biscuit Same as American cookie
Bladdy South African version of bloody, from the Afrikaans blerrie
Boerewors Spicy sausage from (Afrikaans) farmer-sausage (usually made with a mixture of beef and pork)
Book of life National identity document (now dated)
Braai A barbecue, to barbecue (from Afrikaans)
Brinjal Eggplant (from Portuguese berinjela, also used in Indian English)
Buck A Rand
Bundu A wilderness region, remote from cities (from Shona bundo, meaning grasslands)
Bunking As used in the UK, playing truant, skipping school/class
Bunny chow Loaf of bread filled with curry, speciality of Durban, particularly Durban Indians
Cafe When pronounced /kæ?fi?/ refers to a convenience store not a coffee shop (originally such stores sold coffeeand otherbasic items)
China (e.g. howzit my china?) - rhyming slang for mate derived from Chum
Chips Used for both French fries and potato crisps
Circle Traffic circle or roundabout
Clutch pencil A mechanical pencil
Coloured Refers to typically brown skinned South Africans of mixed European and Khoisan or black and/or Malayancestry.
Cool drink, cold drink Soft drink, fizzy drink not necessarily chilled
Costume Besides meaning attire worn to a dress-up party/play it also refers to a bathing suit (short for swimmingcostume or bathing costume), sometime abbreviated cozzie also used in Britain.
Dagga Marijuana, dag-gah, dagca (similar in pronunciation to an Arabic herb)
Dam Also used to mean a reservoir
Donga A ditch of the type found in South African topography (from Zulu, 'wall')
Erf plural erven A plot of land for a building (from Cape Dutch).
Garden boy A male gardener (of any age), (Commonly used by older white South Africans, now considered politicallyincorrect)
Geyser Domestic water boiler
Globe As formerly used in Britain, a light bulb
Hey? Similar to eh? or huh?
Homeland Under apartheid, typically referred to a self-governing state for black South Africans
House A free-standing dwelling. Usage differs from the UK, where a house is not free-standing, unlike a bungalow.
Howzit Hello, how are you, good morning (despite being a contraction (grammar) of 'how is it', howzit is almost exclusivelya greeting, and seldom a question)
Indaba Conference (from Zulu, 'a matter for discussion')
Is it? An all purpose exclamative, can be used in any context where really?, uh-huh, etc. would be appropriate; for example: I'mfeeling pretty tired. Is it?. Often contracted in speech to izit
Ja well no fine Expression of indifference or ambivalence.
Jam Can also be referred to as having a good time, partying, drinking etc. e.g. Let's jam soon
Jol Another term more commonly used for partying and drinking. e.g. It was a jol or I am jolling with you soon.
Just now Idiomatically used to mean soon, later, or in a short while, but unlike the UK not immediately.
Kief Kiff, kief, adj., indicating appreciation (like cool). Originating from the resin glands of cannabis Kief
koki, koki pen, a fibr tip (coloured) art pen (from a local brand name)
kombi a minivan, esp. Volkswagen (from the Volkswagen 'Kombi' van)
lekker originating from the Afrikaans word for sweet, now meaning nice, pleasant or enjoyable in South African English.
location an apartheid-era urban area populated by Blacks, Cape Coloureds or Indians (dated, replaced townshipincommonusage amongst Whites, but still widely used by Blacks)
main road what is generally called a High Street in Britain or a Main Street in North America
matric school-leaving certificate or the final year of high school or a student in the final year, short formatriculationexemption. Equivalent internationally to A-Levels or Twelfth grade.
mielie an ear of maize (from Afrikaans mielie)
mielie meal used for both maize flour and the traditional porridge made from it similar to American grits, the latter alsocommonlyknown by the Afrikaans word pap
monkey's wedding a sunshower.
muti traditional medicine.
naartjie orange-colored citrus fruit with separable segments and skin that is easily peeled (from Afrikaans),similar to aTangerine in Britain
now now idiomatically used to mean soon (sooner than just now in South Africa, but similar to just now in theUnited Kingdom)
Rand currency, divided into 100 cents. The plural of rand is Rand, not Rands
robot, robots besides the standard meaning, in South Africa this is also used for traffic lights. The etymology of thewordderivesfrom a description of early traffic lights as robot policemen, which then got truncated with time.
rondavel round free-standing building, usually with a thatched roof
saami a sandwich
samoosa Indian samosa
shame an exclamation denoting sympathy as in shame, you poor thing, you must be cold
shebeen illegal drinking establishment (also used in Scotland)
shongololo millipede (from Zulu and Xhosa, ukushonga, to roll up)
SMS a text message sent via a mobile / cell phone.
snackwich a grilled cheese sandwich (made in a snackwich maker / snackwich machine)
sosatie a kebab on a stick
spanspek a cantaloupe (from Afrikaans meaning: Spanish Bacon)
spaza an informal trading post/convenience store found in townships and remote areas
standard besides other meanings referred to a school grade higher than grades 1 and 2 (now defunct)
State President head of state between 1961 and 1994 - now known as President
stiffy, stiffy disk a 3.5 inch floppy disk, floppy is used exclusively for the old 5.25 inch or larger disks
sucker used for a popsicle (frozen sucker), a lollipop
takkies sneakers, trainers (from Afrikaans tekkies)
taxi shared taxi (usually a minibus taxi) as well as taxicab
toasted cheese a grilled cheese sandwich, in contrast cheese on toast refers to unmelted cheese on toasted bread.
township large residential suburb lacking city infrastructure, in particular the areas allocated to non-whiteSouth Africans underapartheid
veld virgin bush, especially grassland or wide open rural spaces

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