|Howzit! and more…
||he South African
Experience. Outside your holiday apartment in Cape Town, you'll hear Howzit! and many other expressions. South Africa is full of vivid and unusual delights. To help you appreciate them, we've prepared this special page of useful information.
Weather: The ‘South Easter’ or ‘Cape Doctor’ wind
Cape Town is a windy city, with strong and often gale force South East winds blowing intermittently almost all year. In the summer months the ‘Cape Doctor’,
as it is known, cleans the air and blows away smog and pollution that would have been hanging over the city. You can certainly sense the fresh air!
For those who like kite surfing and wind surfing, the South East wind is ideal and will give them a thrilling ride. For those who want to enjoy the beach, the wind is far more problematic. Only the Clifton Beaches, protected by the Table Mountain, provide relief from the constant wind. This includes the place where the Talia holiday apartment is located.
Camp’s Bay, which is just outside this area, is not so lucky.
South Africa is called the ‘rainbow nation’ because it has so much variety.
There are 11 official languages and many more unofficial ones. English is the most spoken language in official and commercial public life - but only the fifth most spoken home language. In addition, much South African English borrows freely from Afrikaans and from other African languages. So there may be a lot you don’t understand.
A (partial) South African lexicon
amasi (pronounced um-ah-see) - A popular drink of thick sour milk. From the isiZulu. An alternative name is maas.
ag (agh) - Generally used at the beginning of a sentence, to express resignation or irritation, as in: "Ag no man! What did you do that for?"
bakgat (buck-ghut) - Well done, cool, awesome.
biltong (bill-tong) - This South African favourite is dried and salted meat, similar to beef jerky, although it can be made from ostrich, kudu or any other red meat.
boerewors (boor-uh-vors) - Literally, farmer's sausage. A savoury sausage developed by the Boers - today's Afrikaners - some 200 years ago, boerewors is South African food at its most traditional.
bonsella - Surprise gift, something extra, or a bribe. From isiZulu.
braai (br-eye) - An outdoor barbecue, where meat such as steak, chicken and boerewors are cooked, served with pap and bredie.
bredie (brear-dee) - A traditional South African mutton stew, first brought to the country by Malay immigrants. It now refers to any kind of stew.
bunny chow - Delicious and cheap food on the go, bunny chow is curry served in a hollowed-out half-loaf of bread, generally sold in greasy-spoon cafes. Perfect for eating on the side of the road while backpacking across South Africa.
bushveld (bush-felt) - Taken from the Afrikaans bosveld ("bush field"), the bushveld is a terrain of thick scrubby trees and bush in dense thickets, with grassy groundcover between.
café (kaf-ay, kaff-ee or kayff) - The ubiquitous small neighbourhood convenience store, often found on street corners and stocking cigarettes, cold drinks and newspapers.
dinges (ding-us) - A thing, thingamabob, whatzit, whatchamacallit or whatsizname: "When is dinges coming around?"
dolos - Interlocking blocks of concrete in an H-shape, with one arm rotated through 90º. The dolos is a South African invention used to protect seawalls and preserve beaches from erosion. The name comes from an Afrikaans word for the knuckle bones in an animal's leg. The plural is dolosse.
dop (dawp) - An alcoholic drink: "Can I pour you a dop?" It can also mean failure: "I dopped the test.
dumpie - A South African beer served in a brown 340ml bottle.
eina (ay-nuh or ay-nar) - Ouch! Can also mean "sore".
eish (aysh) - Used to express surprise, wonder, frustration or outrage: "Eish! That cut was eina!"
fixed up - Used to mean "that's good" or "sorted". Example: "Let's meet at the restaurant." The reply: "Fixed up."
frikkadel (frik-kuh-dell) - A traditional meatball.
gatvol (ghut-foll) - Taken from Afrikaans, this means fed up. “I'm gatvol of working in this hot sun." Translation: "Gee, my friend, I'm fed up with working in this hot sun."
hanepoot (haa-nah-poort) - A sweet wine made from the muscat blanc d'Alexandrie grape cultivar.
howzit - A traditional South African greeting that translates roughly as "How are you?", "How are things?" or simply "Hello".
jawelnofine - Literally, "yes, well, no, fine", all scrunched into a single word and similar to the rhetorical expression "How about that?"
just now - If a South African tells you they will do something "just now", they mean they'll do it in the near future - not immediately: "I'll do the dishes just now."
koeksister (kook-sister) - A traditional Malay - and now also Afrikaner - sweet, made from twisted yeast dough, deep fried and dipped in syrup. The right-wing enclave of Orania in the Northern Cape even has its own statue to the koeksister. The word comes from the Dutch koek ("cake") and sissen, meaning "to sizzle".
lekker (lekk-irr with a rolling r) - Nice, good, great, cool or tasty.
mampara (mum-puh-rah) - An idiot, a silly person. From the Sotho languages.
mampoer (mum-poo-er) - Extremely potent brandy made from peaches or other fruit, similar to the American moonshine
pavement - South Africans walk on pavements and drive cars on the road (at least that's the idea). The pavement is the sidewalk.
potjiekos (poi-chee-kors) - Traditional Afrikaner food, generally a rich stew, cooked in a three-legged cast-iron pot over a fire. The word means "little-pot food" in Afrikaans.
robots - Traffic lights.
rooibos (roy-borss) - Afrikaans for red bush, this popular South African tea made from the Cyclopia genistoides bush is gaining worldwide popularity for its health benefits.
rooinek (roy-neck) - English-speaking South African, from the Afrikaans for red neck, but without the connotations given the term in the US. It was first coined by Afrikaners decades ago to refer to immigrant Englishmen, whose white necks were particularly prone to sunburn.
samoosa (suh-moo-suh) - A small, spicy, triangular-shaped pie deep-fried in oil. Originally made by the Indian and Malay communities, samoosas - known as samosas in Britain - are popular with all South Africans.
sarmie - Sandwich.
shame - Broadly denotes sympathetic feeling. Someone admiring a baby, kitten or puppy might say: "Ag shame!" to emphasise its cuteness.
skinner (skinner) - Gossip, from Afrikaans. A person who gossips is known as a skinnerbek:
"Jislaaik, bru, I'm going to donner that skinnerbek for skinnering about me." Translation: "Gee, my friend, I'm going to hit that guy for gossiping about me."
slap chips (slup chips) - French fries, usually soft, oily and vinegar-drenched, bought in a brown paper bag. Slap is Afrikaans for "limp", which is how French fries are generally made here.
snoek (like book) - A popular and tasty fish, often eaten smoked. If you're lucky you may get to experience a snoek braai - a real South African treat.
spanspek (spun-speck) - Cantaloupe, an orange-fleshed melon. The word comes from the Afrikaans Spaanse spek, meaning "Spanish bacon". The story goes that Juana Smith, the Spanish wife of 19th-century Cape governer Harry Smith, insisted on eating melon instead of bacon for breakfast, causing her bemused Afrikaans-speaking servants to coin the word.
spookgerook (spoo-ahk-ghah-roo-ahk) - Literally, in Afrikaans, ghost-smoked. Used jokingly, the word means "mad" or "paranoid".
stompie - A cigarette butt. From the Afrikaans stomp, meaning "stump". The term picking up stompies means intruding into a conversation at its tail end, with little information about its content.
taxi - This is the general term for a minibus used to transport a large number of people. It has cheap fares, loud music and is crowded. It’s the most common (if not very comfortable) way of getting around in South Africa. A single taxi is called a private taxi or cab.
to die for - An expression popular in the affluent suburbs of Johannesburg and Cape Town, denoting enthusiastic approval for an object or person: "That necklace is to die for."
vetkoek (fet-cook) - "Fat cake" in Afrikaans, vetkoek is a doughnut-sized bread roll made from deep-fried yeast dough. Mainly served with a savoury mince filling, it's artery-clogging and delicious.
voetsek (foot-sak) - Go away, buzz off.
vuvuzela (voo-voo-zeh-lah) - A large, colourful plastic trumpet with the sound of a foghorn, blown enthusiastically by virtually everyone in the crowd at soccer matches. According to some, the word comes from the isiZulu for "making noise".
windgat (vint-ghut) - Show-off or blabbermouth. Taken from the Afrikaans, it literally means wind hole.
witblitz (vit-blitz) - Potent home-made distilled alcohol, much like the American moonshine. The word means "white lightning" in Afrikaans.