South Africa has 11 official languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Swati, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu. Most South Africans speak more than one language, but city life happens in English. In addition to the official South African languages, Joburg is also home to a babel of language communities from across the globe.
While English is the lingua franca, cultural diversity has created a South African language of its own. Key words include:
Aweh Awesome Babelas Hangover Bakkie Pick up truck Biltong Like beef jerky, just much better; also made from venison Bobotie Spice mince meat baked with an egg-based topping Boerewors Sausage made with minced meat and spices. Sometimes served as a boerie roll (hot dog style in a bread roll with relish) Born-frees Children born after the advent of democracy in 1994 Braai Both the act of coal-grilling meat, and the event at which it is eaten Bro or Boet Brother, meaning friend Coloured Refers to an ethnic group whose origins are mixed, European and African Dagga or Zol Marijuana Eita Hello Eish! Exclamation of surprise or wonder Howzit How are you? Ja Yes (originally Afrikaans, pronounced "ya") Jissis Boet - Yeah man for example; "Jissis boet, I'm gonna smash those weights at the gym." Jol To go out on the town, to party Just now Any time in the near future, from two minutes to many hours. Now now is more immediate and usually means something will happen imminently. Lanie A boss or smarty pants Lapa An outdoor area, usually covered Lekker Tasty or cool Mahala Free of charge Marog A spinach-like dish Monkeygland sauce A fruity, tangy meat sauce (don't worry there's no monkey in it!) Mzansi A Zulu word meaning South, used to refer to South Africa Pap A stiff porridge made with maize-meal and best served with a tomato-and-onion gravy or a meat stew. It is a South African staple Pashash Slang for 'cool' 'Plastic?' When someone asks you this question they want to know if you want to buy a plastic bag in which to carry your shopping Prego Popular Portuguese dish served in many cafes. A white bread roll usually made with a piece of grilled chicken (or occassionally with beef) and spiced tomato sauce Robot Traffic light Sawubona A greeting in isiZulu Sharp! Great! Shisa nyama A braai, often found outside a butcher's shop Sho't Left A stop close by, derived from South African taxi commuter lingo Skorokoro A scrap car, or something worn beyond its years Skyf A smoke Spaza shop An informal convenience store Tekkies/Takkies Athletic shoes Tokoloshe A mischievous evil spirit Tsotsi Someone up to no good Walkie Talkie Boiled, seasoned and grilled chicken feet and heads Yebo Yes (in Zulu)