Battle of the Dialects

So, the impetus for tonight’s post is that I’m staying awake until I fall asleep. I tried to be sleepy about an hour ago, but it just didn’t take. So, here I am on my couch at 11:30pm with my husband all tucked away in bed trying to think of things that I can do until I (hopefully) fall asleep at some point tonight. It occurred to me that I haven’t’ posted my list of things about Africa for the week. Here we go. This week will be a lesson on words.

1) Words. You don’t realize how different a dialect of the same language is until everybody else where you are understands what a robot is and you are left nodding your head pretending that you, too, see mechanical humans wandering the streets directing traffic. Later you will find out that a robot is a stoplight. Why didn’t you say that in the first place?

2) Just now. If I told you something was going to happen “just now” or that I was going to see you “just now”, people in America would assume that I was standing right in front of them and we were having a conversation. Not so here. Here, the phrase “see you just now” could mean that you will see said person anytime from 10 minutes from then to a reunion at the pearly gates, postmortem.

3) There are also many British-isms including the beloved nappies, not diapers; prams, not strollers; boot, not trunk and many other favorites of the British Isles.

4) Bakki (I htink I spelled that right). It’s a pick-up truck and it is pronounced “Bucky”, like the badger.

5) Flapjacks. You may say that you know what these are. You may even say that you know what a crumpet is. But, did you know that crumpets are pancakes and pancakes are crepes and crepes are flapjacks. but flapjacks are not pancakes, they are crepes, which is to say that they are pancakes. Confused yet? Me too.

6) Sometimes the accents are so thick that you actually think they are actually speaking a different language to you. So, you say something brilliant like, “I’m sorry, I don’t speak German, could you say that in English” and they will respond with “I was speaking English, I was introducing myself. That’s my name” And then you feel ridiculous for the rest of the day. Not that that has happened yet…

7) Braai. This is a grill. And if you are braaiing, you are, in fact grilling or BBQing. It took me quite a while to figure out what they were saying when they said that. Then I saw a brand new braai in the garage with the packaging still on it, and all was made clear…or at least I knew what they were saying. The do, as it turns out, have bratwurst here. Yay German influences!

8) Cres(h). It’s a pre-school. Or a primary school. But only for the younger ages, as far as I can tell. I haven’t quite figured out the transition or language of the education system yet. When I do, I may have to update this. But it is a different language, to be sure.

9) Along the same lines, Graduation from high school here is called Matriculation or Matrick for short…I think.

10) Baseball is called cricket here and football is called rugby and soccer is called football. Yes, I know they are sports in their own right. I just thought it was funny and it helps me make connections. I will learn the rules of at least one of these sports by the time I leave South Africa.

Well, I think that’s about enough nonsense for the night. I apologize for any spelling errors. I can’t really see the letters on the screen, my eyes are so dry. However, I’m still not sleepy.

Anyway, I guess I’ll see you just now.

Much love!



2 thoughts on “Battle of the Dialects

  1. So crèche comes from the French word for nativity, it also means daycare/childcare. It has also become commonly used in some English speaking countries.


  2. Pingback: This Week’s Links « Timothy Siburg

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