Local Is Lekker: 20 Top Local Sayings For Foreigners To Learn

You’re sitting on board your Virgin Atlantic flight, headed for South Africa and suddenly you realise that you’ve forgotten something…you’ve forgotten to brush up on your “South African”! Don’t be that guy (or gal); make sure that you know what to say and how to respond before you touch down in Sunny SA.

When in SA, Speak the Lingo!

The South African vibe is a laid back one and with it comes our very own “language”.

South Africans are incredibly friendly and hospitable, opening their arms to welcome visitors to their country regardless of where they come from. They love to show off their beautiful country and have a tendency to do so in their local lingo! If you are traveling to South Africa, and are keen to fit in, learn some of the lingo ahead of time, and experience true South African living.

Here are 20 lekker local sayings to learn:

  1. “Lekker”
  2. Said: [lek-uh]. This word means “great” or “nice”.
    Example: We had a lekker roast for dinner.

  3. “Hoezit” or “Howzit”
  4. Said: exactly as it looks. This is a common greeting that means both “hello” and “how are you?”
    Example: Howzitbru! (“Bru” is an Afrikaans slang term for brother)

  5. “Heita”
  6. Said: [hay-tuh]. This is a greeting often used in both the urban and rural areas. It’s a cheerful way of saying hello.
    Example: Heita, nice to see you again!

  7. “Aweh”
  8. Said: [ahh-weh]. This is another trendy South African way of greeting someone or to show that you acknowledge something.
    Example: Aweh, now I understand the idea.

  9. “Oke”
  10. Said: [oak]. This word is the term used for a man or a “guy”.
    Example: Look at that oke there driving like a maniac!

  11. “Yebo Yes!”
  12. This is said in an agreement or to acknowledge that you understand or approve of something.
    Example: Yebo! Thank you for that!

  13. “Eish!”
  14. Said: [ay-shh]. This word is an expression of surprise, anger, shock, or excitement.
    Example: Eish! How did that accident just happen?

  15. “Gotvol”
  16. Said: [ghutt-foll]. This word is an Afrikaans word that means someone is “fed up” or tired of something.
    Example: I am gotvol with this traffic!

  17. “Braai”
  18. Said: [br-eye]. Best you know the meaning of this word, as you’ll see it on menus and hear it everywhere. It’s a distinctive South African way of cooking and is basically an outdoor barbecue (or barbie for those from down-under!). It involves cooking meat, bread, potatoes, pap and other tasty goodies on a coal fire outside. Most social gatherings are done around a braai in SA.
    Example: Please join us for a braai tonight to celebrate my bru’s birthday”. You could show your lingo knowledge by answering “Thanks, that would be lekker”!

  19. “Slap chips”
  20. Said: [sluptjips]. This word is a slang term that refers to soft fried potato chips. Most restaurants and take away food stores sell them. Slap actually means soft and provides an accurate description of South African potato chips which are usually large and somewhat “floppy”.

  21. “Babbelas”
  22. Said: [bub-uh-luss]. This word is the uniquely South African word for a hangover, and is often the consequence of a good old “lekker braai!”.

  23. “Biltong”
  24. Said: [bill-tong]. This is dried, salted, and spiced meat strips. In other countries, it might be called jerky. In South Africa, biltong could be any variety of meat including beef, ostrich, kudu, or other game meat.

  25. “Pap”
  26. Said: [pup]. This is the word given to mealie meal or maize meal porridge. The meal is typically cooked a stodgy consistency and can be used as a breakfast porridge or an accompaniment to a stew or braai meat.

  27. “Boerewors”
  28. Said: [boor-uh-vorz]. Boerewors is actually an Afrikaans word that means “farmer’s sausage”. It is a traditional type of sausage that is made specifically for the braai.

  29. “Dop”
  30. Said: exactly as it looks. Dop is the South African word for “a drink” aka an alcoholic beverage.
    Example: Please, pour me a dop.

  31. “Jol”
  32. Said: [jawl]. A uniquely South Africa word for a party or to have fun. It can also be the word used to refer to the chosen night club or bar for the night.
    Example: We had such a jol at Kate’s house last night.
    Example: I will meet you at the jol at 7pm. Chances are you might have “a lekkerjol at a braai and end up with one heck of a babelaas!”.

  33. “Hundreds”.
  34. Said: exactly as it looks. This is a term that means everything is 100% fine/okay.
    Example: Hundreds; I found everything I was looking for.

  35. “Robot”
  36. Said: exactly as it looks. Don’t worry, the robots haven’t taken over! This is the South African word for a traffic light.

  37. “Tsotsi”
  38. Said: [tzot-tzi]. This is the world given to a layabout or a gangster who is up to no good, but it might be best not to use it in public.

  39. “Sharp”
  40. Said: [shup]. This tem means “okay” and “good bye”. It can be used to say “sharp, I will see you tomorrow” or “sharp, I understand”.

And that’s a wrap. Of course there are hundreds more terms that you could learn.

South Africa has 11 official languages, so you will encounter plenty of new words that are sometimes a combination of languages. Learn some Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, and other South African languages with Duo Lingo.

Get the offline version and you can even brush up on your language skills while on board your Virgin Atlantic flight to SA!

Once you touch down and have spent a few nights in the city of your choice, you might want to visit a few of our other beautiful spots. Domestic flights on any of our local SA Airlines are just a browse away when you use our search engine to book flights to any of the major cities in SA.

Have a ‘lekker’ trip wherever you end up ‘bru’.

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