Posted by: Steve Coplan | October 11, 2006

Salty vernacular

One of the rare but distinct advantages of being South African in the US is that you can utter the most explicit profanities in general earshot in a professional setting without any real repercussions, as long as it is in Zulu or Afrikaans. Most people, I would guess, assume my outbursts are equivalent to “My Goodness!”. Afrikaans and in particular the Afrikaans vernacular spoken by the so-called Coloureds in Cape Town’s urban areas is redolent in pungent phrases to express dissatisfaction or insult. The Reluctant Nomad has this post on his experience on one of the more memorable phrases. I would differ, however, in his translation of ‘Jou ma se poes’. In more informal conversation it’s closer to “you’re having a laugh” in the UK (incidentally the catchphrase of Ricky Gervais’ character in Extras) or “you have got to be kidding me” in the US.

For a taste of the Cape tune into Bush Radio.


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