Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Jislaaik, it’s such a lekker place here in sunny S.A.

I got this from a colleague:

AG: This is one of the most useful South African words. Pronounced like the “ach” in the German “Achtung” it can be used to start a reply when you are asked a tricky question, as in “Ag, I don’t know.” Or a sense of resignation “Ag, I’ll have some more mieliepap then.” It can stand alone too as a signal of irritation or of pleasure.

DONNER: A rude word, it comes from the Afrikaans “Donder” (thunder). Pronounced “Dorner”, it means “beat up”. Your rugby team can get donnered in a game, or your boss can donner you if you do a lousy job.

EINA: Widely used by al language groups, this word, derived from the Afrikaans means “Ouch”. Pronounced “aynah”, you can shout it in sympathy when someone burns his finger on a hot mealie at a braai.

HEY: Often used at the end of a sentence to emphasise the importance of what had just been said, as in “Jislaaik boet, you’re only going to get a lekker klap if you can’t find your takkies now, hey?” It can also stand alone as a question. Instead f saying “Excuse me?” or “Pardon?” when you have not heard something directed t you, you can say “Hey?”

ISIT? This is a great word for conversations. Derived from the two words “is” and “it”, it can be used when you have nothing to contribute if someone tells you at the braai “The Russians will succeed in their bid for capitalism once they adopt a work ethic and respect for private ownership.” It is quite appropriate to respond by saying, “Isit?”

JAWELNOFINE: This is another conversation fallback word. Derived from the four words “yes”, “well”, “no” and “fine”, it means roughly “how about that?” If your bank manager tells you your account is overdrawn, you can say with confidence “Jawelnofine.”

JISLAAIK: Pronounced “Yis-like”, it is an expression of astonishment. For instance, if someone tells you there are a billion people in China, a suitable comment is “Jislaaik, that’s a hang of a lot of people, hey?”

KLAP: Pronounced “klup” – an Afrikaans word meaning smack, whack or spank. If you spend too much time at the movies at exam time, you could end up catching a klap from your pa.

LEKKER: An Afrikaans word meaning nice, this word is used by aall language groups to express approval. If you see someone of the opposite sex who is good-looking, you can exclaim “Lekkerrr!” while drawing out the last syllable.

TACKIES: These are sneakers or running shoes. The word is also used to describe automobile or truck tyres. “Fat tackies” are big tyres, as in “Where did you get those lekker tackies on your Volksie, hey?”

DOP: This word has two basic meanings, one good and one bad. First, the good. A dop is a drink, a cocktail, a sundowner, a noggin. If you are invited over for a dop, be careful. It could be one or two sedate drinks or a blast, depending on the company you have fallen in with. Now the bad. To dop is to fail. If you dopped standard two (grade 4) more than once, you probably won’t be reading this.

SARMIE: This is a sandwich. For generations, school children have traded sarmies during lunch breaks. If you are sending kids off to school in the morning, don’t give them liver-polony sarmies. They are the toughest to trade.

HOWZIT: This is the universal South African greeting, and you will hear this word throughout the land. It is often used with the word “no” as this exchange “No, howzit?”, “No, fine.”, “No, isit?”

WHAT’S POTTING: Local vernacular for “What’s happening?” or “What’s up?”. This term has no gardening connotation whatsoever.

BIOSCOPE: A local word now losing a little fashion meaning movie theatre, cinema, flicks or pictures, depending on which part of the world you come from.

JUST NOW: Contrary to its apparent meaning, “just now” can mean anytime from now right through to the next millennium. Asked to do a job you don’t particularly like, you would reply “Ja, I’ll do it just now”

NOW NOW: In much of the outside world, this is a comforting phrase “Now, now, don’t cry – I’ll take you to the bioscope tomorrow. But in South Africa, this phrase means a little sooner than soon. “I’ll clean up my room now now, Ma”, knowing that you will receive a well deserved “klap” if you don’t do it at once. It is a little more urgent than “just now”.

BOET: This is an Afrikaans word meaning “brother” which is shared by all labguage groups. Pronounced “boot” as in “foot”, it can be applied to a non-brother. For instance, a father can call his son “Boet” and friends can apply the term to each other too. Sometimes the diminutive “boetie” is used. Don’t use this term with someone you hardly know – it would be thought patronizing.

PASOP: From the Afrikaans phrase meaning “Watch out!” this warning is used and heeded by all language groups. As in “Your ma hasn’t had her morning coffee yet Boet so pasop and stay out of her way.” Sometimes just the word, “Pasop!” is enough without further explanation. Everyone knows it sets out a line in the sand not to be crossed.

VROT: Pronounced “frot”. A wonderful word which means “rotten” or “putrid” in Afrikaans, it is used by all language groups to describe anything they really don’t like. Most commonly it describes fruit and vegetables whose shelf-lives have long expired, but a pair of tackies worn a few times too often can be termed “vrot” by unfortunate folk in the same room as the wearer. Also a rugby player who misses important tackles can be said to have played a vrot game – but not to his face because he won’t appreciate it. We once saw a movie review with this headline “Slick Flick, Vrot Plot”.

JA-NEE: Afrikaans for “Yes/No” in English. This expression’s origin is believed to have originated when a family member starts talking politics (what else do we talk about in South Africa?) and you don’t want to cause a political argument and get klapped or donnered, then every now and then you mutter, “Ja-Nee” (pronounced yah-near)

GRAZE: In a country with a strong agricultural tradition, it is not surprising that farming words crop up (pun intended) in general conversation. Thus to graze means to eat. If you are invited to a bioscope show, you may be asked “Do you want to catch a graze now now”.

CATCH A TAN: This is what you do when you lie on the beach pretending to study for matric exams. The Brits, who have their own odd phrases, say they are getting “bronzed”. Nature has always been unkind to South African school children, providing beach and swimming pool weather just when they should be swotting for the mid-summer finals. If you spend too much time “catching a tan” at exam time, you could end up catching a sharp “klap” from your pa.

ROCK UP: To rock up at some place is to just sort of arrive. You don’t make an appointment or tell anyone you are coming – you just rock up. Friends can do that, but you have to be selective about it. You can’t just rock up for an interview or at aa five star restaurant. You give them a bell first, then you rock up.

BELL: South African vernacular for telephone call as in “Ja Boet, I’ll give you aa bell just now” which means phoning anytime from now to eternity.

SCALE: To scale something is to steal it. A person who is “scaly” is not nice, he’s a scumbag and should be left off the Christmas part invitation list.

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