Some South African English Slangs You Should Know | iVisits

Some South African English Slangs You Should Know

Yes, South Africans speak English and don’t even start with a question like “So if you’re from South Africa, why are you white?” on someone when it’s your first time in their country. South Africa has 11 official languages but English is the commonly spoken language throughout the country. Cool right? So what are some of the South African English slangs that you might encounter while visiting the country? Here’s 10 of them.

1. Braai

Grillen - barbecue 77

If it’s your first time in South Africa, be ready to be invited to a braai or backyard barbecue. Whatever the day, the occasion, or the weather is, no one can stop South Africans from having that good braai.

2. Ag Shame!


Ag when pronounced sounds like the “ach” in the German “achtung”. When combined with the word shame, the whole phrase “Ag shame” is equivalent to “Cute!” or “Horrible!” Kinda confusing right?

3. Izit?


Derived from the two words, “is” and “it”, the slang word “Izit?!” basically means “Really?!” or “Is that so?” It’s best used when you don’t have the slightest idea about what the other person is talking about.

4. Howzit?


The universal South African greeting “Howzit” which means “Hello” is often accompanied by a “Yes!” You can say “Yes, howzit?” where it can be answered with “No, fine.”

5. Now-now


Now-now means “in a bit” so you can use it in a sentence like, “I’ll be there now-now.”

6. Just Now


If there’s now-now, there’s also “just now” which can be a bit confusing because it means “in the near future”.

7. Vrot


Vrot, pronounced as “frot”, literally means “rotten” or “smelly” in Afrikaans. It can also be used when you want to describe something you really dislike. When you step out from the cinema and you hated the film you just watched, you can go on a rage and say “This movie is vrot!”

8. Robot

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - 29 June 2010: Confusing traffic lights on Hertzog Boulevard in Cape Town, South Africa on 29 June 2010 has resulted in traffic jams, accidents and frustrations for drivers taking these roads to work and home. (Photo by Gallo Images/Foto24/Lulama Zenzile)

In South Africa, directional signs or people will tell you to go right or left from the “robot”. Don’t look for something like R2D2 because a “robot” is just the traffic light.

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