Language

While the most commonly spoken language in Cape Town is Afrikaans, English is most commonly understood. 

But, as English is only one of South Africa’s 11 official languages, a strong vernacular has developed, and English-speaking visitors might have a hard time recognising some of the words. We’re a friendly bunch in Cape Town, so if you’re totally confused, just ask and we’ll have you speaking South African “now now”! Here are some local phrases to get you started:

ENGLISH

AFRIKAANS

isiXHOSA

Cape Town
Good morning
Goodbye
Thank you
Yes
No
How much?
Expensive
Hot
Cold
Friend
Good/OK
Excuse me
How are you?

Kaapstad
Goeie môre
Totsiens
Dankie
Ja
Nee
Hoeveel?
Duur
Warm
Koud
Vriend
Lekker
Skuus
Hoe gaan dit?

eKapa
Molo/Molweni (pl.)
Hambe kahle
Enkosi
Ewe
Hayi
Yimalini le?
iDhulu
Shushu
Banda
Umhlobo
Kulungile
Uxolo
Uphilile?

SOUTH AFRICAN SLANG

Capetonians have an amusing array of colloquial terms. Become one of us and throw in some South African slang.

Braai

What you would know as a barbecue, and probably one of the first things you will be invited to do on arriving in Cape Town. We even celebrate national Braai Day on 24 September every year!

Cooldrink or colddrink

This is the common term for a soda. Ask for a soda in South Africa and you will receive a club soda.

Eish

(‘Aysh’) Zulu expression of surprise, bewilderment or shock.

Howzit

A traditional South African greeting that translates roughly as “How are you?” or “How are things?”

Just now

If a South African tells you they will do something “just now” they mean they will do it in the near future but not immediately and possibly not ever.

Jawelnofine

Pronounced ‘yar well no fine’) Made up of four words “yes”, “well”, “no” and “fine”, this saying can express surprise and a sense that things aren’t really fine but there’s not much you can do about it. For example, having been caught speeding, your reaction on seeing the size of your traffic fine might be: “Jawellnofine.”

Lekker

(Pronounced ‘lekk-irr’ with a rolling ‘r’) Afrikaans word meaning nice. Also cool, good, great. Probably the most famous of South African words, so make sure you learn this one.

Pavement

South Africans walk on pavements and drive cars on the road. The pavement is the sidewalk.

Robot

South Africans tend to refer to traffic lights as robots. Sci-fi fans are out of luck – R2D2 and C3PO are not hanging about on every street corner.

Rooibos

Pronounced ‘roy-borrs’) A popular South African tea made from the Cyclopia genistoides bush. Rooibos is Afrikaans word meaning ‘red bush’. Come and try a Red Cappuccino made from Rooibos at the Cape Town Tourism City Centre Visitor Information Centre.

 

Featured Attraction

V&A Waterfront

<p>  V&A Waterfront</p>

Table Mountain Aerial Cableway

<p>Table Mountain Aerial Cableway</p>

City Sightseeing Bus Tours

<p>  City Sightseeing Bus Tours</p>

Cape Point

<p>  Cape Point</p>
 
 

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