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Multi-Lingual Languages


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As in all languages, colloquialisms and quaintisms appear and Afrikaans, English, and native languages are no exception.


South African English has developed a few of its own and is called Sarth Effriken on account of their dialect.






Sarth Effrikan



Af Short for the word African. Usually a derogatory term for a black person. The accepted abbreviation in the English language for African is Afr.
Ag An Afrikaans word, spoken colloquially. Pronounced with the Scottish ch as in loch - as in the Scottish word 'Och' as in 'Och aye'. Used similarly as in 'Ag ja man' or as an expression of disgust as in 'Ag sies'
Ag sies tog A variant of the above meaning 'what a pity'.

Hassle. To give someone 'aggro' - to cause them grievance. An abbreviation of the English word 'aggravation'.
Aikona/Haaikona A native word from the Nguni meaning 'no' or 'not likely'. Used in a strong sense. Accepted by the English language.
Aitsa A native word from the Nguni meaning 'ooh'. May or may not be colloquial.
Al weer sukke tjid An Afrikaans expression, may be used colloquially. Meaning 'here we go again' - rolling the eyes heavenward emphasizes the phrase. Pronounced 'al veer sucker tait'
Arvie/Arvo A colloquial expression meaning 'afternoon'. Accepted by the English language and may have come from the Australians.
Baas An Afrikaans word meaning 'Boss' ie Head of a department. Chief of staff. Used colloquially for anyone considered to be in a superior position. Variants are 'oubaas'which means 'old man' as in a grandfather, and 'baasie' or 'klein baasie' which means 'young boss' as in a child or young adult. Accepted by the English language.

Babalass/Barbie A colloquial term for a hangover. Derived from the isiZulu ibhabhalazi.
Bakkie pronounced 'bukkie' - a colloquial term for a utility or pick-up truck.
Babejaan/Bobijaan A word for a "monkey wrench". Derived from the Afrikaans word for "baboon"
Barnie A colloquial term for an argument.
Berg An Afrikaans and colloquial word for 'mountain' but usually used in respect of the Drakensberg mountain range or Table Mountain. Accepted by the English language.
Bergie A Cape colloquial word for a vagabond who lives on the slopes of Table Mountain. Accepted by the English dictionary, but not necessarily known throughout southern Africa.
Bioskope A colloquial term for a cinema. May derive from the Afrikaans word of the same. Known in English as 'bioscope' to mean the same. Accepted by the English dictionary.

A weed whose seeds have sharp barbs which stick to clothing and animal fur as you brush past them. Very annoying when you have to sit and pull them all out. Not known by this term in the English language. Its Latin name is Bidens Pilosa.
Blerry A South African slang word meaning 'bloody' as in the English swear-word.
Blikkie An Afrikaans word meaning 'tin can'.
Bliksem A South African slang word of Afrikaans origin meaning 'punch or strike'. As in 'I'm gonna bliksem you'.
Blotto A colloquial term for extreme inebriation where one passes out. A variant is K.Od. pronounced 'Kay-oed' as in 'knocked out'. Another variant is 'kaylined'.
Boeremusiek An Afrikaans word meaning literally 'farmer's music'. A term used to describe South African 'folk music' - for example 'Sarie Marais' or 'Vat Jou Goed en Trek Ferreira'.
Boesman An Afrikaans word meaning 'man from the bush'. May be used colloquially.
Boet/Boetie Afrikaans word meaning 'brother/small brother'. Used also colloquially.
Boma A colloquial term for a stockade. In colonial times it was used for a 'fortified stockade'. In some countries like Zambia, this is the local word for 'town' or 'town centre', or an area containing government buildings - may have derived from the early colonial term for British Overseas Military Administration (BOMA). Accepted by the English dictionary.

Boer/Boere An Afrikaans word meaning 'farmer'. Known colloquially and accepted by the English dictionary as a term, not necessarily derogatory, for all Afrikaans speaking people.
Bonsela/Bansela A native word for 'gift' or 'free'. Known colloquially and accepted by the English dictionary.
Bos Afrikaans word meaning 'bush'. Used as a slang word for 'crazy/wakko'. Originally to describe the South African soldiers who were psychologically damaged in the Angolan war.
An Afrikaans word for a barbeque. Derived from the words 'braai' meaning 'to cook over coals' and 'vleis' meaning 'meat'. Known colloquially by every South African. Accepted by the English dictionary. It's a sin in South Africa to call it a 'barbeque' although the word 'Barbie' may be used.


South Africans make use of an oil drum cut in half as a barbeque. You see other barbeques made out of plough disks, or just a grill propped up by rocks.
Broeks/Broek Pronounced 'brook'. An Afrikaans word meaning 'trousers'. Used colloquially as a term for trousers/shorts for a young child. 'Broekies' is the colloquial term for a child's knickers.
Broer An Afrikaans word meaning 'brother'. Used in South Africa to denote a 'friend' as in 'bro'. Other variants emanate from all over South Africa. It is now spelt Bru by most SA surfers. In the Eastern Cape, a semantic hotbed of slang, it's often pronounced 'brorr' or 'braaah', with a longer vowel sound. Also bru, brah, bror, bro. The accepted English abbreviation for 'brother' is 'bro'.
A native word for a type of plant known for its antiseptic qualities. Accepted by the English dictionary. Its Latin name is Agathosma lanceolata.

Buck or Bok An antelope - bok being the Afrikaans word for buck. Accepted by the English language.
Bundu A colloquial term for the bushveld, the wilderness. A variant is 'bundu bashing' where one drives around the bush for no apparent reason other than to test one's skills as an off-road driver, not necessarily using a 4X4 vehicle. Bundu is accepted in the English dictionary.
Bunsed A colloquial slang word for 'financially broke'.
Bushman A worldwide accepted term for the San or Khoisan peoples. But to be called a 'bushman' is considered derogatory.
Bwana A native word meaning Boss. See 'Baas' above.
Cane rat
A colloquial word for a large rodent which mainly lives in the sugar plantations. Accepted by the English dictionary. Colloquially a person may be called a cane rat as a term of insult.

Camp A colloquial term for a place to stay, not necessarily a tented campsite. The English dictionary version of this word is: a fenced pasture.
Cape Doctor A colloquial term for the south-easter which howls across the Cape Peninsula in summer, often forming a whispy, creamy white cloud that rolls over Table Mountain in the shape of a "table cloth". The name is self explanatory. Because it blows for up to a week or more at a time, often at gale-force strength, it blows all the pollution away. The air is beautifully clear and crisp in the wake of a south-easter. Known by the English dictionary.
Charf A colloquial term meaning to tease or make fun of. Or as in the English 'pulling your leg'.
Check A colloquial term meaning (Look, do you see?) "You check" (See what I mean? Do you follow? Are you with me?) or "Check this out" (Look at this) or "Are you checking me skeef'" (Are you looking at me crooked - in other words - do you want to fight me).
Chips South African pronunciation 'chups'. Original word for 'French fries'. Slang for 'a look out' - 'to keep chips'- to act as a look out for (usually) clandestine activities.
French fries are also called 'chups' and there is a variety called 'slup chups'which are soggy chips.
Chorb South African slang word for 'pimple' or acne. Another word for this is 'zit'.
Chow A South African slang word for 'food' or 'eat'. As in 'What's for chow ma'-or 'Here have a chow on this'. May be of Asian extraction.

A soft drink made in a tall glass by adding coca-cola to a scoop of icecream. Also called a 'Brown Cow'.
Coloured A colloquial term for a person of mixed African/European parentage. The word is accepted in the English dictionary but used in relation to 'Cape Coloured'.
Cooking South African or colloquial slang word for 'happening' as in 'what's cooking''- 'what's happening''
Cooler An old tin bath or oil drum split in half length-ways filled with ice. Used at parties for keeping drinks cold. Keeping drinks cool in the bushveld usually entails immersing the bottles or cans in a stream, preferable running water, with rocks acting as wedges to keep the bottles from being swept away.
Coon A colloquial derogatory word for an African person.
Crash South African or colloquial slang word for 'sleep over'. As in 'You can crash at my place tonight.' - generally meaning that a bed will be found for you even if it is on the floor or the settee.
Croak A colloquial slang word for 'die'. A variant is 'kaak'.
Curly-Whirly A word of unknown origin for an insect known as an 'antlion' - latin name Myrmeleontidae.

Dambo An area of grass, reads or swamp. Accepted by the English dictionary.
Dagga Marijuana. Origin: from Khoikhoi dachab. Accepted by the English dictionary.
Datsun reliability - but Ford has a better idea This is a phrase taken from two adverts displayed by the motoring industries of Datsun (Nissun) and Ford to promote their products. It was once used colloquially as part of a conversation between two people debating over ideas. The first speaker would end his dialogue presentation with 'Datsun reliability my friend' and the other speaker would say 'Ah but Ford has a better idea'and then launch into his dialogue presentation.
Deck South African slang word for a 'punch' or fight.
Dego/Dago A colloquial term, usually but not necessarily a derogatory term for a Portuguese person. Comes from the word 'Diego'  - a common Portuguese surname. Accepted by the English dictionary.
Die geraas van 'n vervloekte lewe An Afrikaans phrase meaning 'the ramblings of a cursed life'. Not a well known saying but may be used in the same way as the English phrase 'I may as well be speaking to a brick wall'.
Dingus/dinges A word you use to describe a 'thing' whose name you can't remember. Used colloquially. Derives from the Afrikaans word 'ding' which means 'thing'. Accepted by the English dictionary.
Afrikaans word meaning 'towel' or a piece of cloth. A colloquial term for a 'headscarf'. Accepted by the English dictionary. The colloquial word for a 'cloth/rag' is 'lappie'.

Dof An Afrikaans word meaning 'dim/faint'. Colloquial slang for a dimwitted person or someone acting like one.
Domkop An Afrikaans word meaning the same as 'dof' derived from the words 'dom' meaning 'dumb/stupid' and 'kop' meaning head. Incorporated into the English dictionaries.
Donga A ditch or large elongated hole in the ground usually caused by erosion. Accepted by the English dictionary.

Donner Afrikaans word meaning 'to beat someone up'. Used colloquially.
Doos Pronounced 'do-us'. A South African slang word for 'idiot'. Used colloquially. Also derogatory term for the female genitalia.
Dop Afrikaans word meaning 'shell', 'pod' or 'cap'. South African colloquial slang word meaning 'drink' as in 'one dop too many'' originates from the days when the Boers used the Dop System whereby labourers were paid in cheap wine.
Dorp/Dorpie Afrikaans word for a 'town' or 'village'. Dorpie is an even smaller town. Used colloquially and now being accepted into the English language.
Doss A colloquial slang word for 'sleep' - originates from the English word 'doss' meaning 'lay about'.
Drive-in A colloquial term for an outdoor cinema where you drive in and watch the movie sitting in your car, the sound coming from a speaker which you attach to the window ledge of your car.
Drol An Afrikaans word for a 'turd'. May or may not be colloquial.

Was a bottle of beer of about 200/250ml which had a flip off lid that could be opened by prising the lid off under its serrated edge. Nowadays used to describe any small bottle, since the original 'dumpie' was replaced by cans of 300/500ml. I believe that beer in South Africa served in a 340ml bottle is still called a 'dumpie'.
Dutchman A colloquial term not necessary derogatory for an Afrikaner.
Dwaal A South African colloquial slang word meaning 'dreamy' or your mind is elsewhere. Accepted by the English dictionary.
Eina A South African colloquial word for 'ouch' or 'hurting'. Pronounced 'ay-nah'.
Ek se Pronounced as 'ek sair'. Afrikaans for 'I say'. A affirmative phrase to add impact to what you are communicating. Used in a fascinating variety of contexts all over the country. "Let's hit the road ek se." Colloquial term.
En dit! An Afrikaans phrase literally meaning 'and it!' - used to prompt a speaker to get on with his story. May or may not be colloquial. Another phrase is 'en die 'n die' pronounced as 'en dee un dye' meaning 'and this and that'.
The Afrikaans word for 'that' is 'daardie' but can be abbreviated to 'die' and pronounced as either 'dee' or 'dye'. The Afrikaans word for 'there' is 'daar'.
The Afrikaans word for 'the' is 'die' and always pronounced as 'dee'.
There are no masculine and femines as in German 'die', 'das', and 'der'.
Finish 'n klaar A joint Afrikaans and English phrase meaning 'and that's the end of it' - used to finalise an action, or to signify one has had enough. The word 'klaar' is Afrikaans for 'finish/end'. Used colloquially to a certain extent.
Fleff A colloquial term meaning to 'scratch persistently' as though one has fleas.
Flook/vloek A South African colloquial slang word for 'lucky break' or 'coincidence'. May come from the English word 'fluky/flukey' which means the same.
4X4 (four by four)

A term used in the car manufacturing trade to denote a four-wheel drive vehicle. Used colloquially to mean any off-road vehicle regardless of make and engine size as in 'I have a 4x4'. You could however say 'I have a Suzuki 4x4'or 'I have a Vitara 4x4'. To say 'I have a Suzuki Vitara' suggests you are a 'poser'.
Geld An Afrikaans and colloquial word meaning 'money'.
Gemsquash A type of vegetable gourd known throughout southern Africa.
Gogga Pronounced with the 'loch' sound on all the 'g's. A word of unknown origin for a caterpillar or any creepy crawlie insect whose name you don't know. Usually used by children. Lovely word!
Grand A slang word for 'thousand' - usually in terms of money. Used colloquially.
Graunch South African slang word for 'fondle'. A variant is 'grope'.
Graze South African slang word for 'eat' or 'food', not restricted to the eating habits of browsing animals.
Half-jack South African word for a 500ml bottle of spirits.

Hamba! A native word used colloquially meaning 'Go!' or 'Get lost'.
Hau! A Zulu word pronounced as 'How' or 'Howoo' used as a term of surprise or the same as 'Izzit'. Used colloquially.
There is a slight difference between 'Hau' and 'Izzit' in that 'Izzit' is pronounced more in a way of a 'question' where as 'Hau' is pronounced more as a 'statement'.
Hond An Afrikaans word pronounced 'hondt' meaning literally 'dog'. Used colloquially in its normal sense and as a derogatory term for a nasty or sexually promiscuous woman as in the English 'bitch', though the latter is usually termed in Sarth Effrikan as 'a dog'.

Pronounced as 'izzit!', 'eezzit''!!', or 'eeeezzit!!!' depending on the attentiveness of the listener or the juiciness of the 'gossip'. 

A rhetorical question that most closely translates as 'Really' - without regard to gender, person, or number of the subject. Therefore, it could mean 'Is it'? 'Are you'? 'Is he'? 'Are they'? 'Is she'? 'Are we'?.

Originated in South Africa from the Afrikaans 'Is dit so''? 'Is that so'?. Other words derived from the source are 'Howzit''which means 'How are you'? 'How are things'? Used colloquially.

Another varient is 'Really'!-pronounced as 'reeely'!?

Ja Afrikaans word meaning 'Yes'. Used colloquially. Semi accepted into the English language.
Jaap/Jaapie Pronounced as 'yaap'. A word meaning an Afrikaans person. Usually derogative.

Means 'you don't say' or 'is that right'. Used colloquially.

When used to open a sentence as in 'Jislaaik man, are you crazy or what?!' or 'Jislaaik, is that so!' it is a sort of attention emphasis.

Jol Pronounced 'jawl'. South African colloquial slang word refering to having a good time and is used in any context. "I am going on a jol(party)." "I am having a jol(good time)."
Just now A reference to some time in the future but intended to imply a certain degree of imminence - it could be half and hour or two days from now. Used colloquially.

A South African colloquial slang word meaning 'naked' - from the Afrikaans word 'kaal' meaning naked and 'gat' meaning arse.
Kaalvoet A South African colloquial slang word meaning 'bare-footed' from the Afrikaans word 'kaal' meaning naked and 'voet' meaning foot.
Kak A South African slang word for 'unpleasant' or 'not so good' or 'sh*t'.
Klap Pronounced with a short 'u' sound. Afrikaans word for 'hit'. Used colloquially.
Kloof An Afrikaans word used for a ravine or small valley. Used colloquially and now accepted into the English language.
Kopje Pronounced and sometime spelt 'Koppie' ' Afrikaans term for a little hill. Used colloquially and now accepted into the English language.
Kos An Afrikaans word for 'food'. Used colloquially.
Kotch A South African colloquial slang word for 'vomit'.
Kus An Afrikaans word for 'coast/beach'. South African slang word meaning 'tired/exhausted'. Another word is 'zonked'.
Lanie Pronounced 'larney'. A Cape slang word meaning 'friend'. May also be colloquial.
Larney Posh, smart, high quality. Original South African colloquial word used in a derogative sense.
Lekker An Afrikaans word meaning 'nice' but used to describe anything good, enjoyable or pleasant. Colloquial. By adding an 's' to the word as in 'lekkers' turns the word into 'sweet/sweets'.
Lights out A South African slang phrase used when you pass out. As in "After being klapped for calling him a 'rock spider', little Johnny was completely lights out".
Lighty A South African slang word for a 'child'. Colloquial.
Long-drop toilet A toilet built over a deep pit in the ground, with a hole in the floor over which you squat.

An old style "compost toilet" updated with a modern seat.

Pronounced as 'marcha'. Slang word for 'money'. Sarth Effrikan may also use the American term 'buck' or the Portuguese word 'dineiro'.  Colloquial.

I think 'macha' is the Mozambicanoword for money. Colloquial 

Mozambicano is a native/Portuguese franco linqua which is predominantly Portuguese, interspersed with native words but can also be predominantly native, interspersed with words of Portuguese.

It is only common to distinguish between the two (Porto-Mozambicano and Shangaan-iPorto) when referring to your predominant language as most people in Mozambique can speak both languages but prefer to use one or the other.

Make a plan 'Sort it out' - refers to anything from working through a complicated procedure to circumventing bureaucracy. Colloquial.
Mal Afrikaans word for 'mad'. Used in slang as in 'mad/crazy' or 'mad/angry'. Semi-colloquial.
Mazungu A native word for a white person. May or may not be derogative. May be heard colloquially.
Mif/Miffed A South African slang word meaning 'horrible'. But to say you are 'miffed' changes the expression - you are then really angry or annoyed about something.
Moer/Moere Pronounced as 'moorrr' and 'moorrra'. Afrikaans word meaning 'murder' - used colloquially as a term for a 'beating'. The 'R' must be rolled. Colloquial.
Mozzie A South African word for 'mosquito'. Colloquial.
Mtfan'/Mtfana/Umfan' A native word meaning 'boy'. Used colloquially when addressing either a child/young man who you don't know, or your mate.
Op pas

An Afrikaans word meaning 'watch out'. Used colloquially. A variant is 'Pas op' meaning 'beware'.
Ou/Outjie/Oke Original Afrikaans word meaning 'old'. Slang South African meaning 'a person' 'a man'. The word 'Outjie' is pronounced as 'Oukie' and in slang means the same. Colloquial.
Panga A colloquial word for an implement used for hacking thick undergrowth or jungle-type vegetation.


Panga (right)   Massai Warrior Knife (left)  Somali Warrior Spear (centre)

Picannini Fanagalo word meaning 'small'. Derived from the Portuguese or Spanish word for small ie 'pequeno'. A derogatory term for an African child. A variant 'pekkie' is a derogatory word for any African person - originated in the Eastern Cape. Not the same as 'pakkie' which is the derogatory word for an Asian person.
Poep/poepped 'Poep' is an Afrikaans word for 'turd'. Used colloquially. 'Poepped' is another way of saying you sh*t yourself.
Poes A South African slang word used in a derogatory sense for anyone who is a c**t.
Pondokkies An Afrikaans word meaning 'huts'. May be used colloquially. Apparently there is a difference between a 'pondokkie' and a 'rondavel' even though they may look identical. Pondokkie is one of those 'quaint' words, like 'gogga'.
Pozzie A South African slang word for 'house/place/where you live'. Colloquial.
Robots A colloquial word for traffic lights. Sometimes pronounced dropping the 't' as in 'robos'.
Rock Spider A South African slang term for an Afrikaans person, usually meant in derogatory terms.
Rondavel A South African and colloquial word for a round, African-style hut, usually made out of wattle and daub with a thatched roof. The word is now accepted into the English language.

Afrikaans word meaning 'red-neck'. Used colloquially, but mainly by Afrikaans speaking people to refer to English people, usually but not necessarily, in a derogative sense. It came into being due to the sunburn that the English people, being of fair skin, were particularly prone to.
Roundabout A colloquial word for a traffic island.
Rubber A South African word for 'eraser'.
Sa! A colloquial word commanding a dog to set upon or chase something.
Sarmie The South African abbreviation of the word 'sandwich'. They never use the word 'sarnie'.
Scale A South African colloquial word for 'steal'.
Shaiya A Zulu word of warning meaning 'I'm going to beat you up'. Phrases 'Shaiya wena' or 'Dak Shaiya wena' or simply 'shaiya'. Known colloquially.
Shame A South African terminology or expression as in 'Ag shame on you!-or 'Ag shame look at that cutie little kid'. Apparently tourists find this word amusing and quaint.
Shebeen A colloquial word for an unlicensed drinking place, usually found in townships. May be derived from a native word.
A colloquial word for an African millipede. Derived from a native word. May also be spelt 'chongololo'. Another lovely and quaint word.

Skeef An Afrikaans word meaning 'askew/crooked'. A slang term meaning a 'bad or dirty look' ' usually with the intention of a fight. A variant is 'squiff'. Semi colloquial.
Skelm Pronounced 'skellum'. A South African colloquial slang word meaning 'rascal' - usually in criminal terms. A variant is 'skolly'. Derived from the Afrikaans word of the same.
Skinner A South African colloquial slang word meaning to 'gossip'.
Skrik An Afrikaans word meaning 'fright'. Used colloquially.

A colloquial word for a hand tool with a double edged long curved blade and wooden handle used to cut grass or crops. The tool can be swung back and forth to cut in both directions.
Sjambok Pronounced 'Shambok' - a long whipping stock much like a riding crop only longer, made traditionally out of hides, but nowadays made from any flexible material. Sometimes even a length of hose-pipe is referred to as a 'sjambok' if it is used for the purpose of castigation. Derived from the Afrikaans word of the same. Used colloquially and semi-accepted into the English language - defined.

Skaam An Afrikaans word meaning 'shy'. Used colloquially as 'shy' or 'embarrassed'.
Skeem As in the word 'scheme'. Used in the sense of 'think so'. As in 'I skeem it's a good plan'. Afrikaans spelling.
Skokiaan An alcoholic beverage or 'homebrew' drank illegally in shebeens. A Tsotsitaal word known colloquially.
Skyf An Afrikaans word meaning 'smoke'. Used colloquially for a cigarette, a reefer, or as a verb 'to smoke'. Pronounced as 'skayf'. Cigarettes may also be called 'smokes'.
Skyfies Pronounced as 'skayfies'. An Afrikaans word for 'potato crisps' or 'chips'. South Africans never use the word 'crisps' they will always say 'potato chips'.
Slip slops

A South African word for a type of rubber sandal.

An Afrikaans word for 'swallow/drink'. Used colloquially for 'a drink of' something, or as in 'sluk it back' meaning 'drink it like it is a shot-glass'/in one go/a downer. I'm also told it means 'to steal' (slang).

Soutpiel/Soutie An Afrikaans term for an Englishman or English speaking South African, usually meant in derogatory terms.
Stoep Afrikaans word for verandah. Used colloquially.
Stompie A South African slang word for 'cigarette butt'. Derived from the Afrikaans word meaning 'small thing/stump'.
Stukkie An Afrikaans word meaning 'piece/small piece'. Used colloquially as a sexist term for a man or a woman.
Sus/Sies A South African colloquial slang word for 'yucky'.
Suss An abbreviation of the word 'suspicion/suspicious'. Used also as a verb as in 'Let's go suss it out.'- meaning 'Let's go take a look'. Also means 'knowledgeable' as in 'I sussed it out for myself.'- meaning 'I worked it out for myself'. Known in parts of Britain.
Takkies A colloquial word for trainers, tennis shoes, gym shoes. Or tyres on a car. Having 9 inch tyres on your car means it has 'fet takkies'or 'fat tyres'.
Throw with Used instead of the correct version "throw at". For example, a South African might say: "I'm going to throw you with a stone", meaning "I'm going to throw a stone at you." This confusion arises because of the Afrikaans "gooi met", which means "throw at" but translates directly as "throw with".
Tickey Box A telephone booth or pay-phone. Also a child's money box. A 'tickey' was the old English 3 penny coin. Used colloquially.

Tickey Draai A dance. Don't know how this one came about. 'Draai' is an Afrikaans word for 'bend/turn/wind'. They probably charged you 3 pennies to get in to the dance hall. Also means a fete (where you have things like 'lucky dip barrels' etc.) - usually in connection with raising funds for charity.

A native word for an evil spirit. Used colloquially for the 'boogy-man'.
Township A colloquial word to denote a predominantly native high-density residential area outside a central city or town, usually made-up of squatters and shacks.
The colloquial word is not recognised by the English language in the terms it is represented here, although it is defined. In the English language a township is any residential area
Tsotsi A Zulu word. Meaning a bad person or criminal. Used also colloquially and defined in English dictionaries.

A franco lingua language developed in the townships on the Witwatersrand/Johannesburg made up of Afrikaans and other elements of South African native languages including Portuguese or Mozambicano and also which has included a variety of terms 'from the street language of the gangster's underworld'.

Derived from the word 'tsotsi' meaning 'criminal' and the Afrikaans word 'taal' meaning 'language'. Became established as an unofficial language by the 1940s.

The general contention amongst many scholars has been that Tsotsitaal constitutes an unsystematic and vastly corrupt form of Afrikaans which was used mainly by thugs and other social misfits.

Emphatically denied by all as being related to Fanagalo.

Tula! A native word meaning 'be quiet'. May be used colloquially.

Soft leather shoes, where the leather is used on the suede side. The shoe usually covers the ankles and looks much like a hiking boot. With stout undersoles. An Afrikaans word meaning 'bush-shoes'. Used colloquially and accepted into the English language.
Vlei Pronounced 'flay' - any low, open landscape, sometimes marshy. An Afrikaans word used colloquially and accepted into the English language.
Voetsak An Afrikaans and colloquial word meaning 'get lost'. Usually a command given to a dog but may be said to a person as a term of disbelief as in 'get away with you'.
Vrot Pronounced 'frot'. An Afrikaans word meaning 'bad/rotten'. Used colloquially.
Waai Pronounced as 'v-eye'. An Afrikaans word meaning 'blow' or 'to blow' as in the wind. Used colloquially for 'go' or 'to go'.
What kind? A slang expression meaning 'don't be a jerk'. Example: If your friend has just spewed over the side of your car, you would call indignantly "What kind?"
Woes Pronounced as 'wuos/wuss'. A slang word for a coward or a weakling, or wimp, or party-pooper. Generally someone who puts a damper on things. Used also in Britain.
Zol A handrolled cigarette usually made out of brown paper and smoked by township people. Colloquially used as a term for a 'reefer'.


Where a word that is multi-lingual, ie  Xhosa, Zulu, Tswana, Swazi etc. appears, we have termed it 'native' as it crosses all indigenous languages. Where a word of obscure or unknown native origin occurs, we have termed it 'Nguni'. Where a native word of obscure or unknown origin of the Rhodesias has been incorporated into Sarth Effriken, we have termed it 'Bantu'. The term 'colloquial' refers also to words and sayings that appear in one area or all areas in South Africa. If the word or phrase is peculiar only to one area only it has been left out unless it is 'quaint'.


Some words may be in general use in countries like the United Kingdom or known by many people. Some words are so well known that they have been left out eg Afrikaaner, apartheid, mielie, biltong, boerewors etc. but still appear in the English dictionary. Place names, fauna and flora, and names of individuals such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, Jan van Riebeck, etc. have been omitted but are again listed in English dictionaries.





Also known as:

Fanakalo, Fanekolo, Piki, isiPiki, isiKula, Lololo, isiLololo, Pidgin Bantu, Basic Zulu and Silunguboi


At least the Europeans tried to find a common ground




Fanagalo was established as a lingua franca between between speakers of various languages found in South Africa and was mainly used in the mines throughout southern and central Africa. It can also be viewed as a simplified version of Zulu, Xhosa and related languages with adaptations of modern terms from English, Dutch and Afrikaans.


It evolved from contact between European settlers and African people especially in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa and later also in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and even Malawi. Called "the miners' language', it was created because miners came to the mines with 50 different languages and there had to be means of understanding one another. Developed from about 1910, it consists of 2000 words, 500 of them swear words. 


It was also used to teach the European mine managers and superintendants the rudiments of some sort of African language. At the time the different native languages did not have terminologies for some of the tools used in the trade, so it was easier to just use the English words for these tools.


It is easy to learn this language, yet it is important to note that it is not an artificially-manufactured language.


General Vocabulary yes - ehe no - cha please - yabolisa / golisa thank you - inkomu/ndza khensa excuse me - sori How are you ? - kanjani' Fine. - kulungile. I want ... - Mina funa... good morning - sawubona / sakubona goodbye - hamba gahle

Examples: Vala lo door. (Close the door). 'Vala' originating from Zulu/Xhosa and 'door' is English.

Mina funa lo spanner. (I want the spanner).

Peter Godwin (a journalist), a white man who grew up in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and who learnt Shona says of Fanagalo - a bastardized patois in which "the verbs were Zulu and the nouns were English and the swear words were Afrikaans."

BOLD, J.D. 1990. Fanagalo : phrase-book - grammar - dictionary. Pretoria : Van Schaik.ISBN: 0627017266






reference page:Tsotsitaal


The language - which originated among criminals in the 1930s - has been recorded in a dictionary for the first time.

Tsotsitaal: a Dictionary of the Language of Sophiatown is the brainchild of Unisa registrar Professor Louis Molamu.

He said the idea to compile a dictionary was born during a holiday with his friend, musician Hugh Masekela, at the trumpeter's upstate New York bungalow in 1989.

Said Molamu: "The Fanagalo speakers were viewed as moegoes, people who were not street-smart, migrant workers locked up in compounds. Fanagalo was the language of the employer, of the dominant structure, whereas tsotsi taal came from the bottom."

But tsotsi taal itself was later to suffer from its association with the dominant culture of Afrikaans, following the 1976 uprising against the use of Afrikaans in schools.

Tsotsi taal is still spoken in places like Meadowlands, Rockville and Diepkloof in Soweto, but variants exist in all major urban centres.


Amper-baas A black person with white features, who wanted to be accepted as such; from the Afrikaans almost-boss
Bandiet convict or prisoner; from Afrikaans.
Chieskop a person whose head is shaven
Die Kas Western Native Township; possibly a corruption of the Afrikaans 'die lokasie', the location.
Emkay two women in love with the same man; origin obscure.
Febelien a loose woman; a corruption of the South Sotho word 'sefebe'.
Gwaai a cigarette; origin unknown.
Heita da! hello there!; probably from the South Sotho phrase 'ee thata'!, a response to a query if one was well, meaning: yes, thoroughly!
Impi a joking reference to the Salvation Army.
Jekeje a derogatory term for a municipal policeman; possibly derived from blackjack.
Kofifi Sophiatown; arguably from the twana 'ko fifing', a place of darkness and despair.
Loaferskap the state of being unemployed; from the English 'loafer' and Afrikaans suffix for ''ship'.
Maglera a corruption of the name Newclare.
Pik en naak quickie sex, possibly contracted from the English for 'pick (select)' and the Afrikaans deriviant for 'naked'.
Qava to notice or observe, from the Xhosa word for to be precocious.
Sweet job - no mkatakata no trouble, everything's going fine; partly English, partly obscure.



What was the slang of rebellion in apartheid Soweto, known as Tsotsitaal or Iscamtho, now is the Kwaito franco lingua or "ringas" by which youths searching for an identity in a new era of freedoms judge each other's status.


'Kwaito', says the dictionary, comes from the Amakwaito, a group of 1950s gangsters in Sophiatown - and they, in turn, derived their name from an Afrikaans word for angry or vicious: kwaai.


"Most Sowetans speak five or six languages, but there's more pride in being able to speak this street language," said Gill Mkhasibe, co-owner of the Alternative Consultancy, a marketing agency that regularly surveys what Soweto youths are doing and thinking.


Not all youths speak Kwaito lingo. It's an urban thing, shunned by some because it still carries the bluster and bad-boy image of the thugs who invented its predecessor dialects in Soweto and Sophiatown in the 1950s, as well as the young gangsters who stake a claim to it today.


Youth languages have developed in several of the major urban centres in Africa: Sheng in Nairobi (based on Swahili); Tsotsitaal and Iscamtho in Johannesburg (based on Afrikaans and Zulu); Ndoubil in Kinshasa (based on Lingala, later replaced by Lingala ya bayankee), and in Eastern Congo (based on Swahili); and Nouchi in Abidjan (based on Franšais populaire). The main function of these urban youth languages is to create and to mark group identity in opposition to the rest of society creating a distance from the older generations, from the rural and traditional way of life, and from the upper social classes.







Is a language that is derived from old Dutch and German and I am told is akin to Flemish. People say that when you know Afrikaans the transition to either Dutch or German is fluid and you can understand either of these two languages. I'm not so sure. Consider -



English  Good morning How are you? Fine thank you
Afrikaans Goeiem˘re Hoe gaan dit met u? Goed dankie
Dutch Goedemorgen Hoe gaat het met u? Goede dank u wel
German Guten Morgen Wie geht es dir?  Sehr gut danke
French Bonjour Comment allez-vous Bon merci



As an Afrikaans speaker I can understand Dutch better than I can understand German, and although some of the spellings might be different, the pronunciations are similar.


Afrikaans as a Classified Language


(afrekńns┤) A member of the West Germanic group of the Germanic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Germanic languages).




Although its classification is still disputed, it is generally considered an independent language rather than a dialect or variant of Dutch (see Dutch language).


Afrikaans is spoken by close to 8 million people in the Republic of South Africa, where it is an official language, and by about 1.5 million people in Namibia, where it is the common language of most of the population.


At least half of its native speakers in South Africa are not white. It arose from the Dutch spoken by the Boers, who emigrated from the Netherlands to South Africa in the 17th century, but in its written form it dates only from 1861.


The grammar has been considerably simplified. Its vocabulary is essentially similar to that of Dutch; Afrikaans has absorbed quite a few words from the Khoisan languages, Bantu (such as words designating local flora and fauna), and English.



Dutch language


A member of the West Germanic group of the Germanic sub-family of the Indo-European family of languages (see Germanic languages ).


Also called Netherlandish, it is spoken by about 15 million inhabitants of the Netherlands, where it is the national language, and by about 300,000 people in the Western Hemisphere.


The written and spoken forms of Dutch differ significantly. For example, written Dutch exhibits far greater formality than spoken Dutch in both grammar and vocabulary.


One reason for this divergence is that written Dutch evolved from the Flemish spoken in the culturally advanced Flanders and Brabant of the 15th cent., whereas modern spoken Dutch grew out of the vernacular of the province of Holland, which became dominant after the 16th cent. (see Flemish language ).


Also, written Dutch is relatively uniform, while the spoken language has a number of dialects as well as an official standard form.


The Roman alphabet is used for Dutch, and the earliest existing texts in the language go back to the late 12th century. Among the words with which Dutch has enriched the English vocabulary are: brandy, cole slaw, cookie, cruiser, dock, easel, freight, landscape, spook, stoop, and yacht. Dutch is noteworthy as the language of an outstanding literature, but it also became important as the tongue of an enterprising people, who, though comparatively few in number, made their mark on the world community through trade and empire.




C. B. van Haeringen, Netherlandic Language Research (2d ed. 1960);

W. Z. Shetter, An Introduction to Dutch (3d ed. 1968);

B. C. Donaldson,

Dutch: A Linguistic History of Holland and Belgium (1983).


Flemish language


A member of the West Germanic group of the Germanic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Germanic languages).


Generally regarded as the Belgian variant of Dutch (see Dutch language) rather than as a separate tongue, Flemish is spoken by approximately 5.5 million people in Belgium, where it is one of the official languages, and by a few thousand persons in France. So closely are Flemish and Dutch related that the difference between them has been compared to the difference between American and British English; however, some scholars hold that they have diverged sufficiently since the 16th century to be described as separate languages.


Germanic languages


A sub-family of the Indo-European family of languages, spoken by about 470 million people in many parts of the world, but chiefly in Europe and the Western Hemisphere.


All the modern Germanic languages are closely related; moreover, they become progressively closer grammatically and lexically when traced back to the earliest records.


This suggests that they all derive from a still earlier common ancestor, which is traditionally referred to as Proto-Germanic and which is believed to have broken from the other Indo-European languages before 500 BC Although no writing in Proto-Germanic has survived, the language has been substantially reconstructed by using the oldest records that exist of the Germanic tongue.





Quick Translator - English to Afrikaans             Quick Translator - Afrikaans to English




An introduction to cursing in Afrikaans and Zulu The starting point for an overview of Afrikaans strong language, ranging from vulgar curses to mild interjections. Cursing in Afrikaans and Zulu.


Afrikaans          Zulu          Profanities in 106 Lanugages



Lord's Prayer in Zulu




History of Afrikaans Language


Its Influence on Other southern African Languages 


Lord's Prayer in Xhosa 



Whilst Afrikaans people and English people stick mainly to their own languages and speak in only one or the other, with a few exceptions who speak also a native-tribal language, the Africans tend to demonstrate their use of languages by mixing words and phrases into their speech.  

Basic Zulu

Zulu Language Profile

Basics in all of South Africa's Languages


African Languages - What is Spoken Where



As in most countries where it serves as lingua franca, English came to be perceived as the language of the social elite.

But while it was seen as the language of aspiration and empowerment for black South Africans and for many Afrikaners, among a significant section of the Afrikaans population it was consistently received with hostility as an oppressor, and, from the time the National Party came to power in 1948, Afrikaans became the openly-favoured language.

Despite the fact that English was the other official language, the business of government and administration was conducted almost exclusively in Afrikaans.

State resources were allocated to the development of Afrikaans while English was afforded a lesser status and the African languages were ignored (except for some being declared the official languages of the discredited ethnic 'homelands').

Read More ...


Lord's Prayer in siSwati



Languages of the Rhodesias



The Rhodesias are defined here in terms of the countries - Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. They are called thus to distinguish them or set them apart from Central Africa which are the countries - Congo, Angola, Ruanda, Burundi, and Uganda.


The Bembas are the cockneys of Zambia. Lozis have their own interesting peculiarities when it comes to pronunciations. The "al" sounds is a case in point. A Lozi will speak of his "originaal" idea, a cut above the "superficiaal" ideas of his peers. The Easterners have some of the thickest accents of any people in Zambia.


Here are some colloquialisms from Zambia :


Zanglish 1     Zanglish 2     Zanglish 3


Bemba Language Profile and Pronunciations :





Hail Mary in Bemba


"Good afternoon" in more than 160 languages

Jennifer's Language Page



A-Z of "I Love You"


Afrikaans - Ek het jou lief

Albanian - Te dua

Arabic - Ana behibak (to male)

Arabic - Ana behibek (to female)

Armenian - Yes kez sirumen

Faroese - Eg elski teg

Farsi - Doset daram

Filipino - Mahal kita

Finnish - Mina rakastan sinua

French - Je t'aime, Je t'adore

Kannada - Naanu ninna preetisuttene

Kapampangan - Kaluguran daka

Kiswahili - Nakupenda

Konkani - Tu magel moga cho

Korean - Sarang Heyo

Romanian - Te ubesk

Russian - Ya tebya liubliu

Bambara - M'bi fe

Bangla - Aamee tuma ke bhalo aashi

Belarusian - Ya tabe kahayu

Bisaya - Nahigugma ako kanimo

Bulgarian - Obicham te

Gaelic - Ta gra agam ort

Georgian - Mikvarhar

German - Ich liebe dich

Greek - S'agapo

Gujarati - Hoo thunay prem karoo choo

Latin - Te amo

Latvian - Es tevi miilu

Lebanese - Bahibak

Lithuanian - Tave myliu

Scot Gaelic - Tha gra\dh agam ort

Serbian - Volim te

Setswana - Ke a go rata

Sign Language - ,\,,/ (represents position of fingers when signing'I Love You')

Sindhi - Maa tokhe pyar kendo ahyan

Sioux - Techihhila

Slovak - Lu`bim ta

Slovenian - Ljubim te

Spanish - Te quiero / Te amo

Swahili - Ninapenda wewe

Swedish - Jag alskar dig

Swiss-German - Ich lieb Di

Cambodian - Soro lahn nhee ah

Cantonese Chinese - Ngo oiy ney a

Catalan - T'estimo

Cheyenne - Ne mohotatse

Chichewa - Ndimakukonda

Corsican - Ti tengu caru (to male)

Creol - Mi aime jou

Croatian - Volim te

Czech - Miluji te

Hiligaynon - Palangga ko ikaw

Hawaiian - Aloha wau ia oi

Hebrew - Ani ohev otah (to female)

Hebrew - Ani ohev et otha (to male)

Hiligaynon - Guina higugma ko ikaw

Hindi - Hum Tumhe Pyar Karte hae

Hmong - Kuv hlub koj

Hopi - Nu' umi unangwa'ta

Hungarian - Szeretlek

Malay - Saya cintakan mu / Aku cinta padamu

Malayalam - Njan Ninne Premikunnu

Mandarin Chinese - Wo ai ni

Marathi - Me tula prem karto

Mohawk - Kanbhik

Moroccan - Ana moajaba bik

Tagalog - Mahal kita

Taiwanese - Wa ga ei li

Tahitian - Ua Here Vau Ia Oe

Tamil - Nan unnai kathalikaraen

Telugu - Nenu ninnu premistunnanu

Thai - Chan rak khun (to male)

Thai - Phom rak khun (to female)

Turkish - Seni Seviyorum

Danish - Jeg Elsker Dig

Dutch - Ik hou van jou

Icelandic - Eg elska tig

Ilonggo - Palangga ko ikaw

Indonesian - Saya cinta padamu

Inuit - Negligevapse

Irish - Taim i' ngra leat

Italian - Ti amo

Nahuatl - Ni mits neki

Navaho - Ayor anosh'ni

Norwegian - Jeg Elsker Deg

Ukrainian - Ya tebe kahayu

Urdu - mai aap say pyaar karta hoo



Vietnamese - Anh ye^u em (to female)

Vietnamese - Em ye^u anh (to male)

English - I love you

Esperanto - Mi amas vin

Estonian - Ma armastan sind

Ethiopian - Afgreki'

Japanese - Aishiteru

Pandacan - Syota na kita!!

Pangasinan - Inaru Taka

Papiamento - Mi ta stimabo

Persian - Doo-set daaram

Pig Latin - Iay ovlay ouyay

Polish - Kocham Ciebie

Portuguese - Eu te amo

Welsh - 'Rwy'n dy garu


Yiddish - Ikh hob dikh


Yoruba - Mo ni fe








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