Monday, 1 February 2016

Countryisms and Communication

By Heather de Wit – Founder of Inspiring South Africans  


Every country in the world has their own quirky lingo or slang, commonly known as an 'ism', which defines its uniqueness and sets it apart. When we visit other countries and cultures, learning the 'isms' first is a great way of getting to the soul of the people. If you take the time to learn them and interact using their 'isms', something different happens - You communicate on a more human and humorous level, with boundless possibilities - You can share and laugh with one another, rather than at one another. Its also very good for Business !
I left out the swear words, as I thought I may get into trouble ... ! 


Many Afrikaans and African words have in time become South Africanisms and mainstream South African English – The colorful South African language is a mishmash of all sorts – We need to laugh at ourselves more, wherever we are in the world. Here are just a few - Enjoy !

ag  – used for any response – commiseration, joy, comedic, just about anything.
bakgat – an expression of appreciation for something very well accomplished e.g. ‘cool’.
bakkie – truck, pickup truck.
biltong - dried meat, similar to jerky.
boerewors  - popular type of sausage in South Africa.
boet - male buddy - from Afrikaans boetie, meaning brother.
boytjie – a guy – What a guy !
braai – noun: a barbecue - verb: to barbecue, from the Afrikaans braaivleis.
brak - mongrel dog, also brackish water.
bru - a term of affection, shortened from Afrikaans broer, meaning brother.
china - a friend or buddy
chommie - a friend or buddy - similar to the English 'chum'.
dagga - most commonly used word for marijuana.
dikbek - grumpy, in a huff.
dinges - a 'thingamabob' 'wotzit' or 'whatchamacallit. 
dof - stupid or slow to understand 
donner - to beat up, from the Afrikaans 'donder' 
droewors - dry sausage, similar to 'biltong' from Afrikaans 
eina - Ouch ! - probaby from Khoisan origin.  
eish - to express everything, ranging from frustration to surprise, to disapproval, displeasure, but also just everyday acknowledgement of things you cannot change.
gatvol -  fed up. 
howzit - general hello greeting.
is it -  Is it so ?
ja – Yes from Afrikaans
kwaito  – popular genre of music - a mixture of South African disco, hip hop, R&B reggae and a heavy dose of house-music beats.
lekker – nice, good, great – from Afrikaans. 
loskop - airhead, clumsy forgetful person. 
madiba - globally the name Madiba denotes South Africa. It is the name of the Thembu clan to which the belated Nelson Mandela belonged, derived from a 19th century chief. All the members of this clan can be called Madiba. Nelson Mandela was called Madiba as a sign of both respect and affection.  
moegoe - a stupid person, coward or weakling. 
moer - to hit or fight with.
mzansi – Xhosa word for South Africa.
now now – in a minute, shortly, in a bit.
outoppie – father or older male figure.
shame – could be compassionate, happy, adoring – just about anything.
skelm – do things on the sly - a crook or trouble-maker a mistress or secret lover. 
skinner - gossip. 
skraal - very hungry or very broke. Derived from the Durban region from Afrikaans for 'thin' or 'emaciated'. 
slaptjips - similar to thick-cut British chips - usually soft, oily and soaked in vinegar. 
sosatie - a kebab on a skewer. 
stoep - a porch or verandah, like the American English stoop. 
stompie - a cigarette butt or a short person. 
stukkie - a woman from Afrikaans meaning 'a piece' - mostly used when referring to a woman that you have casual encounters with. 
tata - means father in Xhosa. An affectionate name for the belated Nelson Mandela, who was referred to as the father of the nation. 
toppie - an old man. 
vellies - veldskoene - a traditional Afrikaans outdoors shoe made from hide. 
vuvuzela - inspired from a Kudi horn - A plastic horn, which produces a loud monotone note and allows pitch variation, depending on the blowing technique and pressure exerted. It is commonly used at South African football matches. 
ubuntu – Used in South Africa and all of Africa - means I am because you are, Human kindness, Human-ness, I am human because I belong to the human community and I view and treat others accordingly, people are people through other people. 
yoh - an expression of surprise.

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