Packing your ‘takkies’ and driving around in a ‘bakkie’

Like most places, Cape Town possesses its own culture, with its own unique history and its own unique set of vocabulary and idioms. Whether you hear that something is “lekker” or are instructed to stop at the “robot”, walking around in the city might be just a bit confusing. To help prepare you, below are 20 most popular words and sayings you are bound to hear when interning in Cape Town.

Shame: *points to cute puppy* “agh shame man!” (affectionate term, sympathetic with cuteness, not used as traditional “shame on you and dishonor on your family”)

Now now // Just now: opposite to now, means in a little while, or it could be at some point in the future, or maybe never (a constant source of frustration and confusion for foreigners)

Bakkie: a pick-up truck, utility truck or light delivery truck

Bergie: a person who lives on the streets

Braai: the African version of BBQ

Jol: a party

Lekker: means nice, good, special and it showing appreciation

Takkies: running shoes, sneakers 

Howzit: Hello / How are you doing

bra, bro, bru, boet/china/chommie: various forms of referring to a buddy/referring to someone in a familiar manner; “Howzit china” (greeting)

Awe (pronounced: ah-weh): informal greeting; “Awe bro, how you doing.”

Ja (pronounced: Yaa): yes

eina: ouch

vrot: bad / rotten

yebo: Zulu for yes

cozzie: swimming costume

robot: traffic light

shap shap: after someone says thanks, you can say “shap shap”

Ja-nee (yah-near): Afrikaans for yes-no. Meaning ‘Sure!’ or ‘That’s a fact!’ Usually used in agreement with a statement. A: “These petrol price hikes are going to be the death of me.” B: “Ja-nee, I think I need to invest in a bicycle.”

Just sommer: just because; which is a lighthearted explanation for when you have no explanation.

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