Tuesday, February 11, 2014

An English Speaking Mission

There are, I believe 51 official languages in South Africa, including Africans which has many speakers and tribal languages with relatively few speakers. English is the language spoken by the largest percentage of the population by just a slight margin. However, since the majority of people speak English, no matter what their first language, Johannesburg is an English speaker mission. HOWEVER, the English spoken here, just like anywhere, is an adapted so it has it’s own vocabulary which we are learning. In addition to the added words, people whose second language is English, understandably speak it with their own accent. Added to those difficulties is the fact that we have very definitely American English-tuned ears J With this combination of factors, we have to try to listen very carefully to pick up on everything that is being said. We also try to remember to speak slowly, since our English must sound very accented to them. Although I must admit that no matter how fast we speak, they are much better at picking up what we are saying than we are at picking up what they are saying. Luckily, people have been very patient with us and don’t seem to mind repeating things for us. Here are some of the new “English” words we are learning. See if you know what they are (I’ll put the answers on the next post) (this doesn't even address the hand signals they use to signal taxis going to different areas for example--we're not even going to attempt those :)
  • Slipaway
  • Robot
  • Geyser
  • Petrol
  • Mash
  • Baki
  • Braai
  • Boot
  • Kombi
  • Panel Beater
  • Energy
  • Biltong


  1. Think geyser is water and petrol is gas? Guessing energy is not what it seems.. The rest is as they say Greek to me.u. hmmm got a glitch won't let me make corrections, this could get messy ;-)
    You sound very busy with a ton to learn, nice walking area and glad it is a community exercises.

  2. Hope all is well. The family coming along is a great idea! Many of the English words adapted are great to learn. I was in Australia 2 weeks before I realized they were speaking English. Our out west dialect was so different. STRINE, is Australian slang , if they have the S.A. version of that by all means write it down you will treasure that. Love you guys Fords.