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Do you speak South African?

Do you speak South African?

When I first moved to the UK, I used a lot of South Africa expressions, which got me some funny looks at first. I was relating these stories of miscommunication to a friend of mine a few weeks ago, and as she was in hysterics about all the seemingly strange (to a UK ear) vocabulary which I was using, I thought I would share a few of these with you. After a decade of living the UK my language has changed a fair bit, with my “Ja’s” changing to “yeahs”, and I talk about texting rather than smsing.


“I will be there just now”

Translation: I will be there later. Like much later. It may even be tomorrow. Basically an unknown amount of time.

“I will be there now”

Translation: This does not actually mean immediately. The translation is quite close to “I will be there later today” or “soonish”. But definitely not at this very moment.

I will be there now now”

Translation: See you sooner than ‘now’. Still not immediately. Perhaps at some point today.

** There is no South African speak for immediately. African time does not allow for anything to happen immediately**


A filler word used in just about every situation. You got a new puppy? Shame, it’s so sweet! You brother is in hospital, shame man!


Translation: Oh man. Also a filler word. Perhaps when you have used “Shame” one too many times. Pronounced ach

“Ja well no fine”

Translation: Ok then, that’s how it has to be. An expression of resignation.

“See you later”

In the UK, this one particularly confused me, since in South Africa, “see you later” actually means I will see you at some point later today. In the UK, this just means goodbye.


Traffic light.

** at this point my friend nearly spat out her tea she was laughing so much**


Translation: Barbecue.

And lastly, my UK born cousins’ favourite, “Padkos”

Food for the road. There’s no real British equivalent for this to my knowledge.

I am sure you have some more lekker words which you would like to add to this list, feel free to tag me on Facebook with your favourites.


Ag, shame man, check out this lekker photo from back in 2009… Ja well no fine, see you just now. 

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