When planning to travel to a new area, it helps to know the language of the locals, even if it's just a few words. In South Africa, the locals are quite fluent in English, though they enjoy using slang, also known as Africanism. While slang may not contest for the Word of the Year 2020, it's commonly used in South Africa, especially around local markets. Here are a few slang words you might recognize when you're on the streets of Johannesburg or any other major city in the country.

  1. Ag man!


This word simply means, "Oh man!". In most cases, it is used at the beginning of the sentence to express irritation, pity, or resignation. Example: "Ag, man!"

  1. Aikona – not on your life

[eye-koh-na] or [hi-koh-na]

Derived from Zulu, the term means a shock or disbelief when you are talking to friends and family.

Example: "Aikona, what happened to him?!"

  1. Babbelas – hangover


The word is derived from Zulu to describe a really bad hangover.

Example: "Eish, babbelas my bru!"

  1. Biltong – seasoned strips of dried meat

This is used to mean a spice usually made from beef and ostrich. Β The meat is used as a spicy, cured snack eaten at rugby matches.

  1. Bobotie – a spicy mince dish


Originated from Malay cooking, this is a delicious meal made with spicy minced meat, baked in the oven with an egg custard topping.

  1. Bliksem – to hit

Bliksem simply means to punch or hit someone.

Example: "he was bliksem by kelvin."

  1. Bitter cold β€” very cold

Bitter cold is an 'Afrikaans' term used to describe very cold weather.

Example: "the weather today is bitter cold."

  1. Boet – brother

The term is used to refer to a male friend or companion.

Example: "Hey my boet, I'll call you when I get there."

  1. Boerewors β€” spicy South African sausage


The term Boerewors is used to describe a savory sausage, an Afrikaans delicacy, which was discovered 200 years ago. The sausage is eaten on a hot dog roll and mustard seed.

  1. Braai – a barbecue


Braai is also known as the barbecue where lamb chops and steak is cooked over grill over wood and flames.

  1. Bunny Chow

Bunny chow is an ancient South African Indian dish usually consisting of curry, which is served in a hollowed-out half-loaf of unsliced white bread. The meal is great when the bread is soft and fresh. Chow – to eat / food

This word is used as a verb when talking about the food itself, or when talking about food. The word can also be used to mean eating.

Example: "Let's chow my friend!" / "This chow is sweet!"

  1. Droewors – dried sausage


Droewors is used to describe a dried sausage very similar to german bratwurst or biltong.

  1. Eina! – ouch!


It is usually used by a person when he/she experiences a sharp pain.

  1. Eish! – an exclamation

[Ay-sh] or [ee-sh]

It is used to express a surprise or a shock. It is derived from Khoi.

  1. Fundi – expert or teacher


Fundus is a term used to describe someone perfect at doing something. Its origin is the Nguni tribe.

Example: "Go and ask the Fundi. He is very good at that!"

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