just now

6 Jun

In the four months I’ve been here, I’ve picked up a lot of South African slang. I will share a few of my favorite new words/expressions with you. A lot of these are used by Americans, just in different contexts.

Just now– this is one of my favorites. It means “in the near future.” If someone says, “I’m coming just now,” you can expect to wait anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour.

Now now– this is sooner than just now. It means “in the very near future.” Now now and just now probably overlap, but I still haven’t quite figured that out.

As well– this isn’t exactly slang but every South African says it instead of “too.” I’ve never heard anyone here say “too.” Also, the emphasis is put on the “as.” As well. I say this too often now.

Braai– braai is an Afrikaans word. It just means barbecue. South Africans are big on meat, and braais are really common. The coolest one I went to this year was the Zoology Society’s annual warthog spit braai.

Howzit?– this is basically the official greeting of South Africans. You pass a friend on the street, and one of you is inevitably going to say “howzit?” It’s more of a statement than a question, even though it is a question. Go figure.

Is it?– meaning, “really?” (It sounds like “howzit?”…. so it’s pronounced “izit?”).

Robot– a traffic light.

Bru– means “bro.” Most commonly used after “yah” (“Yah bru, I’ll see you just now.”)

Mate– guys don’t really say “friends” here. They all call their friends mates.

Yoh– this is my favorite word. They say “yoh” here instead of “yeah”, and I think it comes from Afrikaans. You can use this word in all kinds of situations, such as when a test is ridiculously hard, or when you just saw someone get punched in the face, or as your first reaction when you open a box of delicious donuts. It can also just mean “yes.”

Shame– another word with many meanings, depending on the context. It can mean “that sucks” or just express empathy. It can basically be used as a one-word sentence.

Hey– South Africans attach the word hey to the end of a sentence to turn it into a question. For example, I could say, “It’s hot out today, hey?” This is probably the word I’ve incorporated into my speech the most.

Keen– as in, “Are you keen to [insert action here]?” Oh yes, I’m keen.

Mission– some kind of task or endeavor. When it’s a noun, it means that the task is difficult–“Climbing Table Mountain was a mission.” It can also be used as a verb– “We’re missioning to Cape Town this weekend, wanna come?”

There are definitely many more words and expressions, but these are the ones I’ve heard most frequently. Enjoy!

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