A Travelers Guide to South African Slang

With eleven different languages being spoken all throughout South Africa; it can get pretty confusing when talking to the locals. Having a translation guide on hand will not only make it easier to understand what you’re hearing but will also make mingling with the locals a lot more fun. Here are a few useful words and phrases to help you along your journey when visiting South Africa.

Ag man! – Oh man!

Aikona – Not on your life

Babbelas – Hangover

Biltong – Dried, seasoned strips of meat

Bobotie – A spicy traditional Malay mince dish with an egg custard topping

Bliksem – To hit / punch

Bitter koud – Very cold

Boer – Farmer

Boerewors – Spicy South African sausage

Bokkie – A small buck or more commonly known as an affectionate name for a female

Bra / Bru – Male friend

Braai – A BBQ

Chow – To eat

Cozzy – Swimming costume

Chommie / China – My friend

Domkop – Idiot

Droewors – Dried sausage

Eina! – Ouch!

Eish! – A phrase of exclamation

Fundi – Expert or teacher

Gatvol – Fed up or had enough

Gooi – To throw something

Gogga – bug / insect

Hayibo! – Wow!

Heita – Hello / hi

Hoezit /Howzit – How is it going? How are you?

Indaba – A conference

Isit? – Is it? / Is that so?

Ja Nee – yes no

Jislaaik – an expression of surprise

Jol – to have fun; party

Kiff / Kief – cool, great

Laaitie – A young male

Laduma! – He scores! (used when a goal is scored in South African soccer)

Lekker – Great or tasty

Mzansi – South Africa

Now Now – it will be done immediately

Oke – A guy

Oom – Older man of authority / Uncle

Padkos – Food for the road/journey

Saamie – Sandwich

Shongololo – Millipede

Shebeen – An unlicensed bar

Sif – Disgusting, horrible, ugly

Skelm – A crook

Slap chips – French fries

Spaza – Poor quality

Ubuntu – Compassion, kindness, humanity

Voetsek! – Go away!

Yebo – Yes

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Hi World! I'm Shal - an environmental microbiologist, writer, teacher and artist from Durban, South Africa. I've spent the last two years traveling and teaching Chemistry and English to young kids in Asia. Life of Shal was founded as a way to share travel experiences, tips and other worldly magic with you! Join me on my journey!

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