List of South African English regionalisms

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This is a list of words used in mainstream South African English but not usually found in other dialects of the English language. For internationally common English words of South African origin, see List of English words of Afrikaans origin.

A-B[edit]

bakkie
a utility truck or pickup truck. Can also mean a small basin or other container.[1]
bergie
(informal) refers to a particular subculture of vagrants in Cape Town (from Afrikaans berg (mountain), originally referring to vagrants who sheltered in the forests of Table Mountain). Increasingly used in other cities to mean a vagrant of any description.[2]
bioscope
cinema; movie theatre (now dated)[3]
biltong
dried meat, similar to jerky [4]
bladdy
(informal) occasionally heard South African version of bloody (the predominantly heard form), from the Cape Coloured/Afrikaans blerrie, itself a corruption of the English word
boerewors
traditional sausage from Afrikaans "farmer-sausage", usually made with a mixture of beef and pork and seasoned with spices [5]
braai
a barbecue, to barbecue [6]
buck
a Rand [7]
brinjal
eggplant (from Portuguese berinjela, also used in Indian English) [8]
bundu
a wilderness region, remote from cities (from Shona bundo, meaning grasslands) [9]
bunny chow
loaf of bread filled with curry, speciality of Durban, particularly Indian South Africans [10]

C-E[edit]

cafe
when pronounced /kæˈf/ refers to a convenience store not a coffee shop (originally such stores sold coffee and other basic items) [11]
china
(informal) a friend, abbreviated rhyming slang, "china plate", for "mate" also used in Cockney rhyming slang, e.g. "Howzit my China?" [12]
chips
potato crisps by default, but may also used for French fries, which are more commonly referred to as slap chips (pronounced /slʌp/, Afrikaans for drooping, not firm).[13][14]
circle
traffic circle or roundabout
Coloured
refers to typically brown skinned South Africans of mixed European and Khoisan or black and/or Malay ancestry.[15]
combi
a mini-van, people-carrier, often used as taxis
cool drink, cold drink
soft drink, fizzy drink (not necessarily chilled) [16]
dagga
(pronounced /dæxə/ or more commonly, /dʌxə/) marijuana [17]
dam
also used to mean a reservoir
donga
a ditch of the type found in South African topography (from Zulu, wall) [18]
erf
(plural erfs or erven) a plot of land in an urban area (from Cape Dutch) [19]

F-J[edit]

garden boy
a male gardener (of any age), typically used by older white South Africans, but may cause offense to some [20]
geyser
hot water heater for home water supply [21]
globe
a light-bulb (also used in Australian and New Zealand English)[22]
gogga
(pronounced /xɔːxʌ/ or /xɔːxʌ/, the latter similar to the Afrikaans pronunciation) a creepy crawly or an insect [23]
homeland
under apartheid, typically referred to a self-governing "state" for black South Africans
hey?
(colloquial) used similarly to "eh?" or "huh?"
howzit
(colloquial) hello, how are you, good morning (despite being a contracted of 'how is it going', howzit is almost exclusively a greeting, and seldom a question)
is it?
(colloquial) Is that so? An all purpose exclamative, can be used in any context where "really?", "uh-huh", etc. would be appropriate, e.g. "I'm feeling pretty tired." "Is it?". Often contracted in speech to "izit".
indaba
a conference (from Zulu, "a matter for discussion")[24]
jam
(informal) can also be referred to as having a good time, partying, drinking etc. e.g. "Let's jam soon"
ja
(colloquial) yes (from Afrikaans "yes")
ja no
(colloquial) meaning yes, in response to a question: "Ja no, that's fine." (From Afrikaans "ja nee", which is used in the same sense)
jol
(informal, pronounced /ɔːl/) another term more commonly used for partying and drinking. e.g. "It was a jol" or "I am jolling with you soon." [25]
just now
idiomatically used to mean soon, later, in a short while, or a short time ago, but unlike the UK not immediately.[26] If you rely on this you may be waiting a long time. There is no sense of urgency, especially in Cape Town, whereas in the corporate Johannesburg environment, "just now" is taken more seriously and will be acted on with more urgency than in Cape Town which is more laid-back.

K-L[edit]

kaffir
(derogatory/offensive, pronounced /kæfə/) a black-skinned person (from Arabic kafir meaning non-believer) used as a racial slur [27]
kif
(informal) indicating appreciation, like "cool" [28]
kip
a nap
koki, koki pen
(pronounced /kk/) a fibre-tip pen (from a local brand name)
lekker
(informal, pronounced /lɛkə/) nice, pleasant, enjoyable (from Afrikaans "nice") [29]
lappie
(informal) a small dishcloth used for cleaning, as opposed to a dishcloth or teatowel
laaitie
(informal) one's own child, or to refer to a young person as a lightweight or inexperienced in something particular [30]
location
an apartheid-era urban area populated by Blacks, Cape Coloureds or Indians. It was replaced by "township" in common usage amongst Whites, but still widely used by Blacks in the form kasi [31]

M-N[edit]

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 for matriculation [32]
mielie, mealie
an ear of maize (from Afrikaans mielie) [33]
mielie meal, mealie meal
used for both maize flour and the traditional porridge made from it similar to American grits, the latter also commonly known by the Afrikaans word pap
monkey's wedding
a sunshower [34]
muti
any sort of medicine but especially something unfamiliar (Zulu for traditional medicine) [35]
naartjie
a mandarin orange (from Indonesian via Afrikaans), a Tangerine in Britain
no
(colloquial) used at the beginning of a sentence or phrase to mean yes, in response to a question: "No, that's fine, I'll meet you there."
now now
(colloquial) idiomatically used to mean soon (sooner than just now in South Africa, but similar to just now in the United Kingdom)

O-R[edit]

oke
a person, similar to "bloke" (man)
poppie
(informal) a ditzy woman (derogatory term), from the Afrikaans word pop, meaning a doll
robot
besides the standard meaning, in South Africa this is also used for traffic lights. The etymology of the word derives from a description of early traffic lights as robot policemen, which then got truncated with time.[36]
rondavel
round free-standing building, usually with a thatched roof [37]

S[edit]

sarmie
a sandwich [38]
shame
an exclamation denoting sympathy as in "shame, you poor thing, you must be cold"
shebeen
(also used in Ireland and Scotland) an illegal drinking establishment, nowadays meaning any legal, informal bar, especially in townships [39]
shongololo, songololo
millipede (from Zulu and Xhosa, ukushonga, to roll up) [40]
snackwich
a toasted sandwich made in a snackwich maker/snackwich machine
sosatie
a kebab on a stick [41]
soutie
derogatory term for an English-speaking South African, from the Afrikaans soutpiel (salty penis). This refers to colonial settlers who had one foot in England, and one foot in South Africa
spanspek
a cantaloupe [42]
spaza
an informal trading post/convenience store found in townships and remote areas [43]
standard
besides other meanings, used to refer 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) or a lollipop[44]

T-Z[edit]

tackies, takkies, tekkies
sneakers, trainers [45]
taxi
standard usage applies, but is more commonly used to refer to a minibus taxi [46]
tickey box, ticky-box
a payphone, derived from "tickey" coin (threepenny coin minted in 1892), as one had to insert a coin to make a call[47]
township
residential area, historically reserved for black Africans, Coloureds or Indians under apartheid. Sometimes also used to describe impoverished formally designated residential areas largely populated by black Africans, established post-Apartheid.[48]
veld
virgin bush, especially grassland or wide open rural spaces [49]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/bakkie?q=bakkie
  2. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/bergie?q=bergie
  3. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/bioscope?q=bioscope
  4. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/biltong?q=biltong
  5. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/boerewors?q=boerewors
  6. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/braai?q=braai
  7. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/buck?q=buck#buck-2
  8. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/brinjal?q=brinjal
  9. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/bundu?q=bundu
  10. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/bunny-chow?q=bunny+chow
  11. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/cafe?q=cafe
  12. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/china?q=china#china
  13. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/chip?q=chips
  14. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/slap?q=slap+#slap-2
  15. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/coloured?q=coloured
  16. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/cooldrink?q=cooldrink
  17. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/dagga?q=dagga
  18. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/donga?q=donga
  19. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/erf?q=erf
  20. ^ https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/garden_boy
  21. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/geyser?q=geyser
  22. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/globe?q=globe
  23. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/gogga
  24. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/indaba?q=indaba
  25. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/jol?q=jol
  26. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/just-now?q=just+now
  27. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/Kaffir?q=kaffir
  28. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/kif?q=kif
  29. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/lekker?q=lekker
  30. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/lighty?q=laaitie
  31. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/location?q=location
  32. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/matric?q=matric
  33. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/mealie?q=mielie
  34. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/monkey%27s-wedding?q=monkey%27s+wedding
  35. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/muti?q=muti
  36. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/robot?q=robot
  37. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/rondavel?q=rondavel
  38. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/sarmie?q=sarmie
  39. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/shebeen?q=shebeen
  40. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/songololo
  41. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/sosatie?q=sosatie
  42. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/spanspek?q=spanspek
  43. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/spaza?q=spaza
  44. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/sucker?q=sucker
  45. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/tackie?q=tackie
  46. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/taxi?q=taxi
  47. ^ http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/tickey_box
  48. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/township?q=township
  49. ^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/veld?q=veld