Learn to speak Truly South African Download PDF
Thanks to its melting pot of 11 official languages, South African’s tend to use a lot of slang or ‘South Africanisms’
drawn from the various languages. South African conversational English is littered with words and phrases from its
seductive menu of official languages, so don’t be
shy to mix it up. As with any culture, new slang is popularised everyday.
Here’s a few to help you on your way,
but if you hear more, be sure to ask what they mean and drop us a line at
and we’ll add them to the list.
- not on your life / never
(Pronounced 'ai-tah') - a greeting
(Pronounced 'aako-beck-hoole') - meaning cheers, to cheers a drink or thanks in Zulu
(Pronounced 'rve') - afternoon
(Pronounced buh-boor-tea) - served with yellow rice and raisins, this is a spicy traditional Malay mince with an egg custard topping.
(Pronounced 'bub-elaas')- South African Afrikaans for tender the morning after the night before, hangover
- (Pronounced 'buck-ghat') - when something is done correctly
- (Pronounced 'buck-key') - a utility / pick-up truck or Tupperware container
- dried, seasoned meat, similar to jerky
(Pronounced 'bio - skoowp') - means Cinema - We want to go to the bioskoop tonight
– South African Afrikaans for cookie, used as a term of affection - Claudia, you biscuit!!
- hi or punch
(Pronounced 'bitterr coat') - South African Afrikaans for very cold
- Afrikaans word for farmer
- spicy South African farmers' sausage
(Pronounced 'Boet - tea') - South African Afrikaans for little brother, this can also be used as a nickname.
- a small buck, or affectionate name for a female (my bokkie)
- Afrikaans word for male friend - "dude" in English
- male friend
|Braai - a BBQ
- mobile phone, hey bru can I use your cell phone.
- township slan for R20 note
Chommie (Pronounced - 'Ch-ooom-mi'/ china
- my friend, my buddy - How are you my chommie?
- South African Indian slang for telling someone something, could also be a song
- means eat - this can also mean sex, so be careful how you use it
(Pronounced cozzie) - swimming / bathing costume
- sulking / pouting
– South African township slang for football eg. Learn the Diski Dance for 2010
(Pronounced "door - pee") - a town small in size
(Pronounce 'oë' as an 'ooa') - dried sausage, similar to biltong
(Pronounce 'ei' as an 'a') - ouch!
(Pronounced 'aysh') - a phrase of exclamation eg. Eish! I am so tired
- expert - 'umfundisi' meaning teacher or preacher
- fed up, had enough
(Pronounced 'GGeluk' - 'kighe' 'Feryaarsdag') - South African Afrikaans for Happy Birthday
- bug in Khoikhoi xo-xon
(Pronounce 'g' as a rolling 'gggg' almost like a cat purring) - chuck or throw something
- motorway / freeway
- how's it going? How are you?
- excellent, good - Hi buddy how are you? I am hundreds
- from the Zulu language meaning 'a matter for discussion' or widely known in South African English as conference
- interchangeable meanings which could be 'just now', 'tomorrow or perhaps 'never'
- a minivan
(Pronounced "kw" - "eye") - a homonym meaning - cool, excellent or angry in South African Afrikaans
- a rain shower when the sun is out
(Pronounce 'tj' as an 'ck') - flip slop sandals (also see slip slops)
(Pronounces as "lighty") - a young person, usually a young male such as a younger brother or son
(Pronounced "Laaa" "doooo" "ma!") - it thunders in Zulu - used when a goal is scrored in South African soccer matches
- fancy / designer
- great / tasty
- a modified, decorated miners' helmet used by South African soccer fans
|Mielie - corn on the cob
(Pronounce 'v' as an 'f') - tangerine, mandarin
- South African Afrikaans for old man
(Pronounced 'oak') - a guy / bloke
- food for the road / journey
Pap / mielie meal
- ground maize
- traffic light
- free-standing round building which usually has a thatched roof
- South African traditional healer
- Used in South African English to discribe disgusting, horrible or ugly - "This milkshake is siff!"
- French fries
Slip slops / slops
- flip slop sandals
Spaza shop / cafe
(Pronounced 'caffie'- convenience store
- a kebab on a stick
(pronounced - "swuk") - South African Indian slang for bad or a lot on your shoulders
- Afrikaans for aunt
- evil spirit
- South African Zulu for protesting and dancing in the street
(Pronounced 'Tzotzi') - a person who does no good, gangster, layabout
- to give a person lip - Don't u tune me
Veld - bush
Veldskoens / vellies
(Pronounce 'v' as an 'f') - traditional Afrikaans outdoors shoes made from hide
(Pronounce 'v' as an 'f') - go away / buzz off
(Pronounced 'Voo' - 'voo' - 'ze' - 'la' ) - Setswana for a stadium horn, used by football fans during matches in South Africa
(Pronounced 'Yeahbaw') - Yes in Zulu