Monday, December 6, 2010

How to Baffle Everybody

Cor, did we ever have a thunder storm here! Its not usual in this part of the country, so of course the infrastructure - ADSL lines in particular, just couldn't take it. HOW I've been missing blogging.

Good news is that I've bought a USB modem, and my boss insists on paying for it because I'm using it for work (at least a bit). Yippee!

We proceed: today, you're getting culture of the SA sort, whether you want it or not - here goes:

I’m pretty good at American slang, one is exposed to it, one learns it. I even, very occasionally, use it. Naturally, everyone knows what I’m saying. Being a proud South African, I feel it incumbent on me to promote SA slang. You should try it. You will baffle everyone!

To greet, you say ‘Howzit!?’ both punctuation marks are needed since this salutation combines the greeting exclamation as well as the ‘how are you’ question very neatly.

If you are ‘cool’ you will add ‘eksa’ to the greeting. It is a corrupted form of an Afrikaans phrase meaning ‘I say’. You can chuck it in at the end of every sentence, if you like. I do not know why this should be cool, but it is.

Then, in return to the greeting, you might say ‘Na bru’ which combines mining slang from Zulu (I think) with the Afrikaans version of ‘bro’. Very rock and roll, or more appropriately….

Sakkie-sakkie: the Afrikaans version of bluegrass, but more concertina orientated and with less exciting dancing called ‘langarm’ (long arm – you can picture it. It is danced, in certain circles (and they move around the floor in circles too), to everything including AC/DC. I could write a whole post about langarm, it would slay you.

Of course, we’re inclined to say the Dutch ‘Ja’ for yes, and we say ‘Agh’ (like the English ‘Aw’) and that’s pretty decipherable, but I will lead you once more onto foreign ground.

The word I find the most difficult to exclude from my vocabulary when talking to foreigners, and the one they find most baffling, is ‘Lekker’. I could write a whole post about that word. It goes everywhere. It means ‘nice’, and in South Africa, everything is nice.


‘Lekker, bru’

‘Lekker day ne?’ (‘ne’ is a questioning phrase, something like ‘not so?’)

‘Blerry lekker’ (‘Blerry’ is the SA way of pronouncing ‘bloody’)

‘That’s a lekker car’

‘I’ll take you for a lekker spin’

‘Oh wow! Lekker!’

And so on, and so on.

Thunder and Lighting are swearwords, though in Afrikaans: ‘Donder’ and ‘Bliksem’. I know that for some cultures they are the names of Santa’s reindeer, but in SA, they are naughty words. They also mean you might beat someone up as in: ‘I’ll donder (or bliksem) you’. So do be careful while naming Santa’s reindeer in South Africa..

There. That was very cultural and enlightening. Class, your project for the week: use one of the above words (preferably an obscure one) in public, at least once. Thank you / Dankie / Ndi ya bonga / Nkosi / Ke a boga.

Today’s pic: Something very South African: A rock hyrax or 'dassie'. Its closest living relative is, according to biologists, an elephant. Something to do with the toes. That's biologists for you!


  1. Wow, Andrea that is so far out! I am so old school and just plain out of touch with all lingo! Of course I can't text I don't own a cell phone. But I remember all the old one's and they are part of me. Out of sight, Grotty(from the Beatles), far out, cool,heavy man. These have all been replace with illiterate mumblings like wazup?

  2. Rock and Roll - yes.

    Bluegrass - NO !!!

  3. If you want to try and be UNcool in Canada, you chuck the word "eh" after everything... lol

  4. Very interesting post. I think it's interesting that the word cool is so universal and seems to endure the test of time. I like the "Lekker" word I'll have to try it out. ;)

  5. Cute little dassie! What's the meaning of your first word--Cor? (I tried posting a comment earlier but my cookies were messed up.)

  6. Chur, bro'. Kiwi slanguage is a whole 'nother thing. The one thing that drives me to absolute despair (if not drink) is the rising inflection at the end of every effing sentence - so that everything sounds like a question? It's a lovely day today, isn't it? I really like your new frock? (OK: we don't use the word "frock" any more. Just an old bastard showing he ain't defeated... 'cause it's all in de feet, according to biologists?)

  7. I love learning about foreign cultures until I realize it's not about hot Asian women, and then my eyes glaze over. BTW, "ne" is also Japanese and can be added to the end of sentences in the same fashion (most translations liken it to saying "isn't it?" in American). Drawing out the "e" sound makes it girlier. And now you know how to speak a little bunny.

  8. Well the moment I read this I e-mailed it to my college-age son who loves language. He really enjoyed it, as did I. So well written and so funny. I still can't get over the thunder and lightning. I think I will be telling people about this in this season for years to come.

  9. Stonepost: well, its foreign isn't it?

    Heff: Wait till you hear 'sakkie sakkie', you'll be weeping for the blue, blue grass of home.

    AG: Eh?

    TK: Hope you had a lekker time with the word!

    HW: Hope your cookies are sorted! 'Cor' is British slang short, I believe, for 'Gor blimey'. I trust this is enlightening :)

    AW: You are un de feet able. I have noticed the curious lilt of the Kiwi. I think it rather pretty - perhaps because its foreign.

    Grant: Ne?!

    Dan: I'm glad you both enjoyed it. Language, where it comes from ,and where its going remains so intriguing, by thunder!

  10. i love that calling the names of reindeer could be heard as swearing where you are. how funny language is.
    like the word bindi - a forehead decoration to some or in the case of my hungarian family, the word for male parts.