Top 10 South African Words That Just Don’t Translate Well

proudly south african

As a country with 11 official languages, it’s not hard to see why in South Africa we have a ridiculous amount of slang words that are commonly used. Check out these 10 South African words that just don’t translate well when you’re overseas.

Somehow ‘nice’ or ‘good’ just doesn’t cut it! Whether something is fun, tasty, exciting, or almost any other happy emotion, lekker is our go to word.

We know there are a few (let’s face it, rude) variations on this one, but none sound as good as ‘kak’ when the proverbial hits the fan.

‘Road food’? No. Just no. Always was and always will be padkos!

Slap chips
Trying to explain this one to people overseas is hard. Crisps, French fries, chips, hot chips…just give me my slap chips!

Medicine sounds so boring. When you’re sick and want to get better quick, muti is the way forward.

In America, it’s a pick up truck. In Australia, it’s a ute. In England it’s a van. But in South Africa, it’s a bakkie!

Stub your toe? Whacked your hand on something? Slammed your fingers in a door? What do you say? ‘Ow’? or ‘EINA!!!!’?

When you’re sick and tired of whatever nonsense is going on, you’d never say something like ‘Oh this is so annoying!’. No – you’d say ‘I’m GATVOL of this’!

Just Now
Ahh, the good old just now. Only South Africans and those close to us will ever understand the difference between just now, now now and now.

‘That banana is over-ripe’ said no South African EVER! Vrot has to be one of the best South African words that will never translate well to other languages. Plus you can not only apply it to food, but to people as well. We’re flexible like that.



Written by How South Africa

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

For Men: Grooming Tips for the Modern Man

Venter Trailers UK, the South Africa Company Making Waves in the UK Market