Sunday, August 7, 2022

Language & Phrasebook in South Africa

AfricaSouth AfricaLanguage & Phrasebook in South Africa

Read next

There are 11 official languages in South Africa, namely Afrikaans, Southern Ndebele, Xhosa, Zulu, Swazi, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda and English. The majority of people who are not rural black South Africans speak English as a second language. Only about 8% of the population speaks English as a first language, almost exclusively among the white population, and ironically the proportion of English as a first language is declining, while English is already a common language among South Africans, with about 60% of the population understanding it. South African English is heavily influenced by Afrikaans. Afrikaans is also widely spoken, especially by the majority of whites and people of colour. Often Afrikaans is mistakenly referred to as ‘African’ or ‘Afrikaner’ by foreigners. This is quite incorrect, because for South Africans “Afrikaans” is the same as an indigenous African language. Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, etc. (Of course, there are thousands of languages in Africa, so no one language can be called “Afrikaans”). Afrikaans originated as a Dutch dialect in the 17th century, so Dutch speakers can understand it, and German speakers can sometimes decipher it. Other widely spoken languages are Zulu (mainly in KwaZulu-Natal – South Africa’s largest single language group) and Xhosa (mainly in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape), as well as Sotho and Venda. This changes depending on which region you are in.

A few words you might come across are:

  • eish – as in “eish, it’s hot today”, “eish, it’s expensive” or “eish, it’s too far to drive”.
  • lekker – beautiful, pleasing
  • howzit – what is it like? (usually a rhetorical question)
  • yebo – yes
  • boet, bru, china or ou – brother or man (equivalent to dude or bro).
  • koppie – a small hill (can also mean a cup)
  • Madiba – Nelson Mandela
  • Molo – Hello (in Xhosa)
  • Robot – traffic light
  • tannie – (auntie) respectful term for an older woman
  • oom – (uncle) respectful term for an older man
  • Jingle – telephone call
  • right now – sometime soon (from Afrikaans “net-nou”)
  • now now – sooner than just now! (from Afrikaans “nou-nou”, pronounced no-no)
  • braai – barbecue.
  • cheers – is used to say goodbye, but also to say thank you and for the occasional toast.
  • heita – hello
  • sharp – (usually pronounced quickly) OK
  • sure-sure is pronounced more like sho-sho – Correct, agreement, thank you
  • ayoba – a little cool
  • Zebra crossing – a zebra crossing. Named after the white and black stripes that are usually painted on zebra stripes.

Spelling

In general, English spelling follows British rather than US rules; litre rather than litre, centre rather than centre, etc.

How To Get In South Africa

With plane South Africa is an important hub for air travel in the Southern African region. The country's flag carrier, South Africa Airways (SAA), has an extensive global and pan-African network of connections, some of which are operated by its short-haul subsidiaries SA Airlink and SA Express. South Africa has 10...

How To Travel Around South Africa

By plane South Africa has a well-developed domestic air transport infrastructure with connections between all major centres. There are several daily flights to all major airports in the country. Contact one of the airlines for details. The budget airlines (Kulula, Mango) are usually the cheapest and prices can be compared...

Visa & Passport Requirements for South Africa

People of the following nationality will not need a visa for a period of stay of 90 days or less: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand,...

Weather & Climate in South Africa

South Africa generally has a temperate climate, partly due to the fact that it is surrounded on three sides by the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, that it is in the southern hemisphere, which has a milder climate, and that the average altitude increases steadily northwards (towards the equator) and...

Accommodation & Hotels in South Africa

Businesses in South Africa can be graded on a 5-star basis by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa. Many establishments make use of this service and you will see the star rating on most promotional material. 1 star - Clean, comfortable and functional.2 stars - Good: High quality facilities,...

Destinations in South Africa

Regions GautengPretoria - The administrative capital of the country. Johannesburg is the seat of the provincial government, as well as the economic heart of Africa and the most frequent point of entry into southern Africa. Western Cape - Cape Town, the Mother City, the legislative capital and seat of Parliament, with...

Things To See in South Africa

Every year hundreds of thousands of tourists visit South Africa to discover its numerous natural and cultural attractions. South Africa is a fascinating country full of contrasts and beauty - everything from wild elephants to breathtaking landscapes, cave paintings, colonial heritage and vibrant towns. Wild animals in their natural habitat South...

Things To Do in South Africa

Diving,River rafting: The Orange River on the border with Namibia is a popular destination for rafting tours. Several tour operators start 4-6 day trips from Vioolsdrif in inflatable boats with camping under the stars.Rugby union, cricket and football are all popular spectator sports traditionally associated with African, Anglo-South African...

Food & Drinks in South Africa

Food in South Africa Cuisine South African cuisine is multicultural, influenced by native British, German, Indian, Malayan, Portuguese and, of course, African influences. Braaivleis, meat roasted over an open wood or charcoal fire, is very popular and is usually done at weekend social events. The act of roasting the meat as well...

Money & Shopping in South Africa

Money in South Africa A currency is the ZAR (rand), divided into 100 cents (c). The banknotes are available in denominations ranging from R200, R100, R50, R20 and R10.The higher denomination notes are slightly larger than the lower denomination notes. All notes have a metallic security strip and watermark. Note...

Festivals & Events in South Africa

Public holidays in South Africa DateName1 JanuaryNew Year's Day21 MarchHuman Rights DayThe Friday before Easter SundayGood FridayThe Monday after Easter SundayFamily Day27 aprilFreedom Day1 MayLabour Day16 JuneYouth Day9 AugustNational Women's Day24 SeptemberHeritage Day16 DecemberDay of reconciliation25 DecemberChristmas Day26 DecemberGoodwill Day

Internet & Communications in South Africa

Phone in South Africa The country code of South Africa is 27. Telephone numbers within South Africa have the format 0XX YYY ZZZZ. Large cities have area codes of 0XX (Johannesburg is 011, Pretoria 012, Cape Town 021, Durban 031, Port Elizabeth 041, East London 043, Kimberley 053, Bloemfontein 051), while smaller...

Traditions & Customs in South Africa

South Africans are generally polite, friendly and courteous towards tourists. Behaviour in public is very similar to what you might find in Europe. Heterosexual expressions of affection in public are not frowned upon unless you overdo it. Homosexual displays of affection can attract unwanted attention, although they are tolerated and...

Culture Of South Africa

South Africa's black majority still has a significant number of rural dwellers who live largely impoverished lives. Among these people, cultural traditions survive most strongly; with the increasing urbanisation and westernisation of black people, aspects of traditional culture have declined. Members of the middle class, who are predominantly white...

History Of South Africa

The tip of Africa has been home to the Khoisan (collective name for Hottentots (Koi) and Bushmen (San)) for thousands of years. Their rock art can still be found in many places in South AfricaAccording to some estimates, the Bantu tribes gradually began to spread into what is now...

Stay Safe & Healthy in South Africa

Stay safe in South Africa South Africa rarely experiences earthquakes, cyclones, tornadoes, floods, terrorist incidents or infectious diseases (except HIV). It is however one of the countries with the highest rates of violent crime in the world. However, if you are vigilant and use common sense, you should have a safe...

Asia

Africa

South America

Europe

North America

Most Popular