Cape Town is a melting pot of different cultures, that’s why our food is so tasty and our language so colourful. Here’s a quick guide to speaking like a local when in the Mother City.


Pronounced: eye-tsa!
An exclamation of praise or surprise similar to ‘nice’ or ‘heeeeeeeyyyyyy’!

Eg: Aitsa! Look at you looking so neat my bru!


Pronounced: ah-weh
A casual greeting or way of agreeing with someone.

Eg: Aweh, my bru, how are you?


Pronounced: ah-yoh-ba
A word of approval that’s cooler than cool and better than great! Could also be a greeting if you’re having a lekker day.

Eg: Sho! Those dance moves are ayoba!

Chommie definition


Pronounced: day-duh-lik
A word of confirmation also meaning cool, awesome, great, hip or dope. In English, it translates to “clearly”

Eg: You look duidelik today!


Pronounced: ace-sh
An emotive word used to describe anything from shock to awe or disapproval.

Eg: Eish, too much traffic!

The definiting of gaatjie


Pronounces: gh-he’s
An Afrikaans word for “spirit” often used to describe a great vibe.

Eg: I like this place, it has gees!


Pronounced: luck-ker
A word used to describe all things good, great and tasty

Eg: We’re going to a lekker party tonight! Lekker lekker man!


Pronounces: muh-oi
An adjective for something or someone that is beautiful.

Eg: I love this view! It’s mooi!


Pronounced: m-zhan-si
isiXhosa word for “south”, lovingly adopted as our unofficial name for South Africa.

Eg: Mzansi fo sho!

Definition for Now Now in our guide on how to speak like a Capetonian


Pronounced: row-bots
How South Africans say “traffic lights” because “traffic lights” is too long and doesn’t sound futuristic enough.

Eg: Next stop! At the robot!

Shame / Shem

Pronounced:  sh-em
A much-used phrase to express all kind of emotions like sympathy, empathy, tenderness or regret.

Eg: Ooh shem, you shouldn’t sing

That dog is so cute, shame!

Shisa Nyama

Pronounced: she’s-san-yah-mah
To braai or barbeque meat or a place where you eat braaied meat and have lots of nice drinks.

Eg: This weekend we’re going to have a lekker shisa nyama!