A Traveller’s Guide to South African Slang

A Traveller’s Guide to South African Slang

Every country has its peculiar turns of phrase – quirks that give local languages flavour, colour and character. But unless you’re a native speaker, local slang can be a tricky to grasp, let alone use. South Africa, with its 11 official languages, is blessed with a rich slang culture that can be quite daunting for foreign visitors – heck, even some residents flounder when faced with some of the more obscure lingo.

To help out travellers from foreign climes (as well as the odd sheltered South African) here’s a directory of common, and not so common, South Africanisms.

If you’d like to suggest something to add to this list, drop us a comment below!

A

Ag (the g is guttural, so pronounce it in the back of your throat): Oh, as in “Oh no” or “Oh man” or “Oh bloody hell”.

Ag man: Oh man, with more than a hint of frustration, irritation or annoyance; e.g. Ag man, what did you go and do that for?

Ag shame: Shame is a South Africanism for pity or sympathy, but it can also be used to indicate cuteness. E.g., Ag shame, did you hurt yourself? And, Ag shame, he got his exam results today and they weren’t good. And, Ag shame, did you see that fluffy puppy?

Arvie: Afternoon, e.g., We’ll pop round for tea sometime this arvie.

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