30 August 2011

You speak funny!

18% of South Africans speak English.
But that doesn't mean that you'll understand us.

Yes, I do (on occation) bump into rediculously handsome Shia Labeouf look-a-like strangers

I used to get some very odd looks when I first started travelling and didn't realize that some words have different meanings in other countries. Regionalism is a term for certain words that are totally different but mean the same thing depending on where in the world you are.

I would order pancakes and be given what looked to me like crumpets, and when I asked for jelly I'd get jam. But slowly I learnt and biscuits became cookies, sweets were now candy and ice lollies became popsicles.

Here is a list of regionalisms that I still cannot get used to their "american version"

takkies - sneakers
jersey - sweater
costume - bathing suit
dummy - pacifier
nappy - diaper
full stop - period
bonnet - hood
boot - trunk
paw paw - papaya
candy floss - cotton candy
lift - elevator
trolley - shopping cart
shop - store
torch - flashlight

Although I have adapted my way of talking to suit the ears of the Americans around me, it did take a while to "learn this new language" and every now and again my husband still looks at me like I am talking in some kinda of alien language. 


  1. haha! That would be hard! I love hearing the different terminology though. I have a friend from the new england area and she calls shopping carts buggies or trolleys. :)

  2. torch! hahaha i have a funny story about that- a friend from australia that i used to work with used some different words all the time.. once she dropped a pen under her desk and said "ah it's too dark i can't see where it is- does anyone have a torch?" and we were all like, WHAT?! I pictured her holding a stick with flames at the end of it and lighting the office on fire.. of course she meant a flashlight, but we had no idea haha

    she also called the sidewalk a footpath- i enjoyed that one :) i've never heard "robot" for a traffic light though- that's a good one!

  3. That would be difficult. The funny thing is, some terms differ from state to state around here. So be prepared! Do you know what a bubbler or a tyme machine is? You might need those if you're ever in Wisconsin. :)


  4. BAHAHAH! I know exactly what you mean. I use to translate things from Russian and Armenia into English, and it made perfect sense to me, but I've got some funny looks. :-)

  5. haha so funny :) Isn't another one in England they call the telephone the dog bone? :)

  6. My BF is from South Africa and he's been living here for over ten years. He still has an accent, but he speaks "American." His brother came to visit not long ago and was talking about "robots," which I thought was funny. I like regionalisms, though, they make language interesting!

  7. Oh wow that is so interesting! So a robot was the traffic signal?? haha, so hilarious. Love the little cartoonies.

  8. What other languages do they speak in south africa? Someone had suggested that me and my dad should go there. He was actually talking about going there next year as well. What are the cool spots in South Africa to maybe sight see and hang out?

  9. i can't tell you how much i love this post :)
    to be honest, your way of saying things is much more appealing.

    the robot/traffic light one is nearly unbelievable though ;p love the story the pictures tell. especially that last one (like i said, i was trying to figure out what 'robot' was along with shia. haha

  10. wow, I feel so much more educated. People always make fun of me because I say "ideas" weird. I can't help it. Cool illustration.

  11. @Sir Lancealot
    We have 11 OFFICIAL languages in South Africa. The top 4 being Zulu, Xhose, Afrikaans (my 2nd language) and English.
    The best place to visit would be Cape Town, hands down! It is so beautiful, especially having both the mountains and the sea right there. I would also recommend a safari at Krugar National Park.

  12. I just stumbled on your blog and am cracking up because my best friend is from South Africa!

  13. haha i didn't even know about some of those words. you really call streetlights robots? haha i have to wonder what robots are then...
    xox dana

  14. I actually did run into Shia Lebouf, and couldn't say anything. I am so pathetic. hahaha

  15. I knew that some of that words have the same meaning but some of that words I never heard before :D

  16. haha I love the language differences. We have a whole bunch of them here too :)

  17. this is hilarious!! i love that all countries and their languages and terms are so different. It's what makes us unique! can't wait to learn more of the lingo!


  18. I remember when I was living in the US I kept asking people what their surnames were and I'd just get these blank stares! I just kept repeating myself instead of saying "last name" mainly because I'd then get asked why I pronounced "last" so weirdly and "are you Australian"! Argh ;) hehe