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.