South African English (“Sanglish”) can be confusing to an English speaker who has just arrived from elsewhere in the world…
The English spoken in the UK, US, Australia and Canada is similar, yet distinctly different. As is the English in India, Nigeria and South Africa. Each one has evolved separately from the same language tree, all adapting to their own unique environment along the way absorbing history and culture into their grammar and vocabulary resulting in each case in a rich and unique branch of English.
Read the silly ditties below to give you a contrived example of how indecipherable South African English could be at first listen.
S.A. English version (some spellings have been adjusted so that you read it how it sounds)
An oak and his stukkie in a bakkie on a koppie.
He says “Come to my side for a bry and a doppie”
She says “Liquor man. Now now? Buy a donkey. “
He says “don’t eat those na cheese, sis man they are frot.
Eish, sorry my bokkie, instead have some La Motte.”
English version (slightly inventive ‘translation’ to make it rhyme)
Jack and Jill in a pickup on a hill
He says “come to mine for a drink and a grill”
She says “Nice! Right now? Thanks a lot.”
He says “Don’t eat those oranges, they are full of rot
Oh, sorry my darling, instead have some La Motte.”
Then there are tackies and lappies and boerewors and biltong, rooibos and rooineks but I shan’t go on and on.
Apologies to the lovely people of South Africa if I have made any glaring errors.
That’s the end of the post, but if you want to read on there’s a little vocab list (apologies for the slightly wonky formatting) for you to refer to. If you don’t want to read on, why not read one of my other posts? You can find out about those bullets I dodged here or the joys of adopting a rescue dog here or the utter privilege of travelling with small children here.
S.A.nglish Sounds like Means
Oke Oak Guy/Bloke
Stukkie Stukky Girlfriend
Bakkie Backy Pick up truck
My Side My place
Braai Bry Barbeque
Doppie Doppy Drink (often alcoholic)
Lekker Liquor Nice/tasty
Now now Right now
Baie Dankie Buy a donkey Thanks a lot.
Naartjie Nah-Chee Orange
Sies Sis Yuk/Disgusting
Eish Eesh Exclamation – oh dear.
Bokkie Literally ‘small buck’, but can be used as a term of
La Motte A South African wine brand that
rhymes with frot! I rather like their Sauvignon