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Popular Afrikaans Expressions Used in South Africa

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Afrikaans is a Germanic language spoken in South Africa and Namibia. It evolved from the Dutch spoken by settlers in the Cape Colony in the 17th century. Today, it is one of the eleven official languages of South Africa and is characterized by its unique expressions. Here are some popular Afrikaans expressions used in South Africa, complete with their definitions and example sentences.

Lekker is an all-purpose term that can be equivalent to ‘good,’ ‘great,’ ‘tasty,’ or ‘nice.’ It is used to express that something is enjoyable or pleasurable.
That food was really lekker, I’d love to have that meal again.

Howzit is a casual greeting, similar to ‘how are you?’ or ‘how’s it going?’ It’s a contraction of “how is it going?” and is common in both South African English and Afrikaans.
Hey! Howzit man? Haven’t seen you in ages!

Ja-nee, literally translating to ‘yes-no,’ is a unique way South Africans agree with something that might not have a straightforward yes or no answer. It recognizes the complexity of a situation.
Ja-nee, I understand it’s a tough decision to make.

A braai is a South African barbecue where meat is grilled over an open flame. It is not only a culinary event but also a social gathering.
We’re having a braai this Saturday, you should come over!

Eina is the expression used when experiencing pain. It’s akin to saying ‘ouch’ or ‘it hurts.’
Eina! I stubbed my toe on the corner of the bed!

Ag man
Ag man is an expression of frustration or resignation, similar to saying ‘oh man’ or ‘geez.’
Ag man, I can’t believe we missed the bus.

Nou-nou is used when referring to something that will happen immediately or very soon, much like ‘now-now’ in English.
I’ll be there nou-nou, just give me two minutes to finish up here.

Baie dankie
Baie dankie means ‘thank you very much.’ ‘Baie’ alone means ‘very’ or ‘much,’ and ‘dankie’ means ‘thanks.’
Baie dankie for all your help today, I really appreciate it.

Rooinek is a term historically used to refer to an English-speaking person. It originates from the Anglo-Boer War where British soldiers got sunburned necks, but now it is used in a less derogatory sense.
Don’t worry about the accent, we can tell you’re a rooinek, but it’s charming!

Gesellig is akin to the Dutch ‘gezellig’ and describes a cozy, friendly, and jovial atmosphere. It can be used for a place or a company of people.
This cafe is so gesellig, let’s meet here more often!

By using these popular Afrikaans expressions, not only will you enhance your communication in South Africa, but you will also better comprehend the rich cultural fabric of this country. Language is a vital tool for connecting with people, and learning local expressions is an essential aspect of immersing yourself in any new culture.

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