South African English for World Cup visitors
Feel it , it is here and the foreigners is on our shores. Here is guide for visitors to understand South African slang words.
Following is an A-Z glossary of other typical terms or expressions found in South African English, which is heavily influenced by the country’s 10 other languages.
Ayoba – A slang word for cool that has been made into a World Cup refrain by sponsor MTN, which has incorporated “ayoba” into all its advertising, e.g. “We don’t say ‘ole’, we say ‘ayoba!'”
Babalas – Hangover, taken from the Zulu word ‘isibhabalazi’. Usually treated with a sachet of Grandpa (a local headache powder).
Cooldrink – A chilled soda or a euphemism for a bribe. e.g. “If you buy me cooldrink, I’ll forget about that speeding fine.”
Doh! – Homer’s saying is international
Eish! – (pronounced aysh) An expression of surprise/resignation, e.g. “Eish, I’m so broke.”
Fong Kong – A Chinese counterfeit, e.g. a fong kong football jersey or takkies (runners).
Geyser – It’s got to do with hot water alright, but it’s the hot water tank in a house, not a spring.
Howzit/heita – (pronounced heyta) “How are you?” in English and a mix of Afrikaans and Xhosa.
Is it/izzit? – An expression of surprise, used even when the preceding statement did not include the verb “to be”, e.g. “Brazil first play North Korea” or “I have a toothache.” Response: “Is it?”
Just now/now now – Denote varying levels of urgency. Phoning someone “now now” is sooner than “now” or “just now” but not as soon as “right now.”
Kugel – A middle-class Jewish girl or woman from northern Johannesburg, who speaks with a nasal voice and is preoccupied with her appearance
Lekker – From the Afrikaans word for delicious, meaning nice or fun, e.g. “We had a lekker time last night.”
Muti – A catch-all term for African medicinal remedies and rituals. Footballers can use muti to bring bad luck on a rival team.
Ne is it not so? – Used liberally by Afrikaans speakers for emphasis, e.g. “I went to the shop, ne, and I bought some milk, ne, and then I came home, ne…
Ouma – Afrikaans word for grandmother or old woman. Also the name of a brand of rusk.
Pap & stiff – Porridge made of maize. Pap ‘n vleis (meat stew, pronounced flies) is the staple dish in townships.
Robot – Traffic lights, which you “jump” rather than go through, e.g. “Jump the robot and take a short (first) right.” Jump a red robot though, and you will have to buy cooldrink.
Sharp sharp – Understood, agreed, sorted.
Tsotsi – A gangster or thug. Also the title of an Oscar-winning South African film about a robber in Johannesburg.
Umqombothi (pronounced um-kom-bow-tee, from Xhosa) – Popular cheap beer made of sorghum and maize.
Vuvuzela – Plastic trumpets blown by South African fans, which are being talked up as the 12th man of the host team because they have the effect of deafening their opponents
Woza – “Come” or “come on” in Zulu, e.g. “Woza 2010!”
Xhosa – One of South Africa’s biggest ethnic groups and a language of the same name that is sprinkled with clicks. The “xh” in Xhosa is pronounced as a click.
Yebo – “Yes” in Zulu.
Zulu – South Africa’s most populous nation and widely-spoken language.