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  • Guide to South African words and phrases


    Want to have a lekker time at the World Cup, chomping boerewors at a braai on the Veld or downing a rooibos at the shebeen next to the robot?

    Here's a newcomer's guide to some uniquely South African words and phrases for football fans heading to the month-long tournament.

    - Howzit: A universal greeting, a short-form version of "How is it going?"

    - Bru: Abbreviation of "brother" used to address friends and colleagues as in "Howzit bru?"

    - Yebo: The Zulu word for Yes which is now used across the board.

    - Sharp: A sign-off signalling an agreement as well as farewell, often said twice.

    - Ag shame: An expression of sympathy or annoyance.

    - Eish!: An exclamation expressing exasperation.

    - Lekker: An Afrikaans word meaning superb or fantastic which is applied equally to a person, object or event.

    - Braai: An originally Afrikaans word for barbecue, which often features a sizzling boerewors, a curled spiced sausage.

    - Biltong: Dried meat -- usually beef but also from other animals as ostrich, antelope or buffalo -- which is eaten as a snack, often accompanied by a beer or glass of wine.

    - Rooibos: Red bush tea, South Africa's unofficial national brew which is grown in the southwestern Cape region.

    - Shebeens: Makeshift bars in the townships which sell often super strength homemade brews.

    - Muti: A traditional tree or plant-based medicine. Its practioners are known as nyangas.

    - Sangoma: Traditional Zulu healers or sorcerers who often summon ancestral spirits to foretell the future.

    - Townships: Black-only neighbourhoods under apartheid that were once mainly shantytowns but now include middle-class areas. The most famous is Soweto, short-form for SOuth WEst TOwnships, near Johannesburg.

    - Jozi: The abbreviation for the largest city of Johannesburg which is also known as Joburg.

    - Veld or Veldt: An Afrikaans words meaning shrubland, it now generally refers to the countryside as a whole.

    - Robot: Traffic lights.
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