A few weeks ago, I wrote a beginner’s guide to South African English, which made me realize just how little South African English I actually understand.
Sure, I can tell my vellies from my takkies, have realized that quotation marks are called “inverted commas,” and have learned how to both eat and spell a boerie (borrie?) roll. But as life at Londolozi continually reminds me, there’s a whole world of wild and wacky South Africanisms I have yet to encounter, let alone comprehend. Is a snackwich a type of sarmie? Should it be made with a jaffle? And can a potjie be chock-a-block with chakalaka?
To be honest, I have absolutely no idea, but it seems to me that the only way forward – according to a South African expression that may as well be the national mantra – is to “make a plan.”
With that, I’m proud to present the next edition of Londolozi’s Language Field Guide (Intermediate Level), this time in the form of a hypothetical but entirely plausible conversation between slang-savvy rangers Guy Brunskill and Sean Zeederberg. Newly introduced terms are in bold, with translations provided only when strictly necessary.
Good luck, chinas.
GB: Howzit Zeeds, how was the morning drive?
SZ: Ag, we only saw five leopards.
GB: Shame, man. Want to cool off in the pool? I’ve already got my cozzie [swimsuit] on.
SZ: Bru, I think I might have a quick dos [nap] and study up on my American English before my trip to the States.
GB: Got to have that slang waxed [ready], bru.
SZ: Ja, it’s helluva complicated. What does it even mean to be zonked?
GB: Think it’s when you’re tired, china. Hey, wasn’t Jess Shillaw here just now?
SZ: Yebo, but I didn’t even see her leave. She must have ninja’ed.
GB: Ag, shame.
SZ: Shame, man.
SZ: Bru I am starving, want to chow some lunch?
GB: Ja let’s cruise [let’s go]. Why are you only wearing one shoe?
SZ: Bru, I left my slops [flip-flops] out on the stoep [stoop], and a hyena straight chowed them.
GB: Eish! When did that happen, now-now?
SZ: No, bru, just now.
GB: Is it? Shame, man.
SZ: Ja, bru. Hectic.
Filed under Wildlife
This made me pack out laughing… us as South African’s don’t think about the way we speak being strange, but when put as you’ve done, it must sound out of this world to a foreigner… thanks for the laugh!
Michael, what a good lesson in talking slang Africanisms🤗
Quite humorous- I’m saving your dictionary for my next trip. Prior to arriving, perhaps I can find a pair of vellies!😉 they look comfortable.
And they say American slang is bonkers! South African slang runs barefoot between English and Afrikaans.
I am usually reasonably at foreign languages, but I am not sure if I totally grasped this one. Probably need a few by more lessons when we get there end of January. Sounds like fun. Sorry the hyena ate your flip flop. Victoria
OMG! Hilarious! Nothing like starting the day with a good morning laugh! You guys are great!
Hilarious. I guess there has to be American slang expressions that are equally funny to South African ears but it sure seems to me that you have the lock on crazy expressions!
Michael, We ARE paying attention, so keep it coming!! Truly a laughing matter for sure!
These are hilarious, informative, and kinda cool at the same time! As an American college student who dreams of working in the bush, I can just imagine myself having this kind of trouble, hahaha!
These were so funny while also being interesting. Please keep them coming!