Laughing is Good for the Soul
by Guest Author
This is probably a chain email, but thanks to Marlene who sent it to us.
Braai: What is a braai? It is the first thing you will be invited to when you visit South Africa.
A braai is a backyard barbecue and it will take place whatever the weather. So you will have to go even if its raining like mad.
At a braai you will be introduced to a substance known as mieliepap.
Ag: This 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 dont know. Or a sense of resignation: Ag ok, Ill have some more mieliepap then. It can stand alone too as a signal of irritation.
Donner: A rude word, it comes from the Afrikaans donder (thunder). Pronounced dorner, it means beat up. A team member in your rugby team can get donnered in a game, or your wife can donner you if you come back from a braai at three in the morning. Eina: Widely used by all language groups, this word, derived from the Afrikaans, means ouch. Pronounced aynah. You can say it in sympathy when you see your friend the day after he got donnered by his wife.
Hey: Often used at the end of a sentence to emphasise the importance of what has just been said, as in Youre only going to get donnered if you come in late again, hey? It can also stand alone as a question. Instead of saying excuse me? or pardon me? when you have not heard something directed at you, you can always say: Hey?
Izit? This is another great word to use in conversations. Derived from the two words is and it, it can be used when you have nothing to contribute if someone tells you something at a braai. For instance, if someone would say: 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: Izit?
Ja well no fine: This is another conversation fallback. Derived from the four words: yes, well, no and fine, it roughly means ok. If your bank manager tells you your account is overdrawn, you can, with confidence, say: Jawelnofine.
Klap: Pronounced klup an Afrikaans word meaning smack, whack or spank. If you spend too much time in front of the TV during exam time, you could end up getting a klap from your mother. In America, that is called child abuse. In South Africa, it is called promoting education. But to get lekker geklap is to get motherlessly drunk. Lekker: An Afrikaans word meaning nice, this word is used by all language groups to express approval. If you enjoyed a braai thoroughly, you can say: Now that was lekk-errrrrrr! 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 really wide tyres, as in: Youve got lekker fat tackies on your Vlla, 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. When invited for a dop, be careful! It could be one sedate drink or a blast, depending on the company. Now the bad: To dop is to fail. If you dopped standard two (Grade 4) more than once, you probably wont be reading this.
Saamie: This is a sandwich. For generations, school-children have traded saamies during lunch breaks. In South Africa you dont send your kid to school with liver-polony saamies. They are impossible to trade.
Bakkie: This word is pronounced bucky and can refer to a small truck or pick-up. If a young man takes his girl (date) in a bakkie it could be considered as a not so lekker form of transport because the seats cant recline.
Howzit: This is a universal South African greeting, and you will hear this word throughout the country. It is often accompanied with the word Yes! as in: Yes, howzit?. In which case you answer No, fine.
Now now: In much of the outside world, this is a comforting phrase: Now now, its really not so bad. But in South Africa , this phrase is used in the following manner: Just wait, Ill be there now now. It means a little after now.
Tune grief: To be tuned grief is to be aggravated, harassed. For example, if you argue with somebody about a rugby game at a braai and the person had too much dop (is a little geklap), he might easily get aggravated and say: Youre tuning me grief, hey!. To continue the argument after this could be unwise and result in major tuning of grief.
Boet: This is an Afrikaans word meaning brother which is shared by all language groups. Pronounced boot but shorter, as in foot, it can be applied to a brother or any person of the male sex. 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. But dont use it on someone you hardly know it will be thought patronising and could lead to you getting a lekker klap.
Pasop: From the Afrikaans phrase meaning Watch Out!, this warning is used and heeded by all language groups. As in: The boss hasnt had his coffee yet so you better pasop boet. Sometimes just the word pasop! is enough without further explanation. Everyone knows it sets out a line in the sand not to be crossed.
Skop, Skiet en donner: Literally kick, shoot and thunder, this phrase is used by many South African speakers to describe action movies. A Clint Eastwood movie is always a good choice if youre in the mood for a lekker skop, skiet en donner flick.
Vrot: Pronounced frot. An expressive word that means rotten or putrid in Afrikaans, it is used by all language groups to describe anything they really dislike. Most commonly intended to describe fruit or vegetables whose shelf lives have long expired, but a pair of old tackies (sneakers) worn a few years too long can be termed vrot by some unfortunate folk which find themselves in the same vicinity as the wearer. Also a rugby player who misses important kicks or tackles can be said to have played a vrot game opposite of a lekker game (but not to his face). A movie was once reviewed with this headline: Slick Flick, Vrot Plot.
Rock up: To rock up is to just, sort of arrive (called gate crash in other parts of the world). You dont 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. For example, you cant just rock up for a job interview.
Scale: To scale something is to steal it. A person who is scaly has a doubtful character, is possibly a scumbag, and should rather be left off the invitation list to your next braai. Ja-nee: Yes No in English. Politics in South Africa has always been associated with family arguments and in some cases even with physical fights. It is believed that this expression originated with a family member who didnt want to get a klap or get donnerred, so he just every now and then muttered ja-nee. Use it when you are required to respond, but would rather not choose to agree or disagree.