Twenty-four new South African words and phrases have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary which reflect the country’s local and lekker cultures.
The Oxford Dictionary announced the addition of the South African words, with many of them featuring as borrowed terms in English.
Our country has an eclectic mix of diverse languages. One of the 11 languages of South Africa, Afrikaans, is an expressive language which is said to be hard to translate into English in words and are rather words that are ‘felt’.
The English language has borrowed from various Afrikaans words, including deurmekaar, which it first loaned in 1871, and voetstoots, which was first used in English in 1883.
Words rooted in Zulu and Xhosa have been incorporated into the English vocabulary, with the oldest word, amakhosi, being used in 1857 and ubuntu in 1860. Xhosa words such as ingcibi have been used in English since 1937 and the popular word we use to refer to South Africa, Mzanzi, first became frequently used by English speakers in 1999.
The Oxford English Dictionary now includes the phrase bunny chow, with a note that the phrase is not related to rabbits but rather refers to a half-loaf of bread filled with curry. Interestingly, the word kif originates from the Arabic word kaif, meaning ‘enjoyment’ or ‘pleasure’, and which is now used to refer to a thing or person being nice, cool, great.
Here are the words now featured in the Oxford English Dictionary:
The word refers to a collection of tribal leaders.
2. Bunny chow (noun)
A meal which consists of a half-loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with a spicy, tantalizing vegetable, bean or meat curry.
3. Deurmekaar (adjective)
Often expressed to explain that a person is confused or mixed up; “ja well no, they are very deurmekaar“.
4. District surgeon (noun)
The official Oxford English Dictionary defines it as a South African doctor appointed to serve in a specific district or area.
5. Dwaal (noun)
Locals often use this word to describe absent-mindedness or being in a daydream.
5. Eina (noun)
If you are a local, there is no chance you have not used this word to describe the feeling that comes when you stub your toe or hurt yourself in some other way. Eina is used to express a sharp pain or distress.
6. Gumboot dance (noun)
The gumboot dance is embedded in local history and culture and is extremely characteristically South African. It is defined as a dance originally performed by mineworkers which mimics military marching and is, naturally, done wearing gumboots.
7. Howzit (greeting)
The perfect way to say “hi, how are you?” without wasting time on too many words.
8. Ingcibi (noun)
Defined as a person who performs circumcision on young men as part of national rite of passage in Xhosa tradition.
There is no simpler way to say yes than ja, pronounced ‘yah’.
10. Ja well no fine (phrase)
A way of saying “Yes, I don’t really care” or “I guess”. A very non-committal phrase.
11. Kasi (noun and adjective)
Because “kasi (home) is where the heart is”.
12. Kif (adjetive)
“Ja no its kif brah” often used in a phrase to refer to something being cool, fine.
13. Mzansi (noun)
A name for South Africa.
14. Sokkie (adjective and noun)
The name of a traditional, quintessentially Afrikaans dance.
15. Sarmie (noun)
An Afrikaans term that refers to a sandwich.
16. Shackland (noun)
An urban shack settlement.
17. Skedonk (noun)
An old, battered car.
18. Spaza (noun)
An informal convenience shop that sells the basics. Remember when your mum would send you to the nearest spaza shop to purchase a fresh loaf of bread and Chappies, the good old days.
19. Tickey box (noun)
20. Toyi-toyi (noun)
A classic protest dance.
21. Traditional healer (noun)
Often referred to as a sangoma or herbalist.
22. Ubuntu (noun)
Defined as the fundamental values of humanity, as well as the essence of African-ness.
23. Voetstoots (adjective and adverb)
Referred to as the sale or purchase of a product without a guarantee or warranty on it.
24. Wine of Origin (noun)
South Africa is known for its fantastic wines and the phrase “wine of origin” is used to refer to wines which are officially certified as originating from a recognised region.