This blog’s seriously going south

It’s Friday and I thought it would be rude not to start the weekend with another little lesson in forrin! Grab your coffee, wine or beverage of choice and sit back and travel with me to Africa – it’ll be festive!

I’ll take you to the lands of my youth. So we’ll learn a little more Zimbabwean (the home of my high school days) and a little more South African (my university days, early motherhood and beyond). Some words will take my fellow sub-Saharans back in time, others will make you frown, but let’s just have fun. Let’s.

(My granny used to stay with us for a few months at a time when I was a teenager. She loved her chair in the lounge, and she loved watching TV. She would often say to me, “Shall we turn the TV on?” And I, cocky little teenager that I was, would say, “Let’s.”)

Starting in Zim: my brothers were party animals loved to go out when they were teenagers. (They are bothhhh older than me – seven and five years. Respectfully.) While I never heard all the detail of what they got up to (I’m the little sister, remember?), I would often hear them talk about a festive chick that they met or saw. This usually meant a girl who was easy on the eye, especially if the eyes were covered in beer goggles.

In contrast, we would all talk about graubs (grorbs), who are male or female, and just the opposite of festive.  We tried to avoid graubs at the school dances, because the goal was to get lucky and find someone to grapple with on the dance floor. Especially if it was a slow shuffle. Now even I am laughing out loud, because I haven’t even thought about those words for years!

I have some outrageously embarrassing stories about school dances that would send certain family members running for cover, but I will spare them and move on, swiftly!

So, the word graub leads me, phonetically, on to graunch. I know I used this word in my blog post on Monday, with reference to the doobie dude graunching his hubcaps on the kerb. No doubt you guessed, but it means to damage, scrape, or do grievous bodily harm to (caution: exaggeration at work) and its use is usually accompanied by a screwed-up nose and graphic noises and descriptions.

Here are a few Afrikaans words (I won’t overwhelm you with too many) that have snuck into everyday South African English. Well, into mine, anyway:

  1. Dof (dorf): dim, switched-off, not very bright or clever
  2. Onbeskof (ornbeskorf): cheeky, otherwise, difficult, facetious
  3. Deurmekaar (d’yearmakarr): all over the place, confused, disorganised
  4. Ingewikkeld (too difficult to explain pronunciation!): complicated, involved.

In South Africa, and I think again it has to do with the direct translation from Afrikaans, it’s not polite for someone to throw you with a stone.  This means to throw a stone at you. I find this turn of phrase hilarious, and it was made more so by a neighbour of my sister’s some years ago, in SA. She told my sister about her baby and how she had recently changed her baby’s diet. The new food regime was causing a, well, disruption to her baby’s usual digestive activities. With the result that my sister’s neighbour was concerned with the consistency of the result of said activities.

Yoh,” her friend said, “it’s so hard, you could throw a dog dead with it.”

And with that, shall we end this ridiculous blog? Let’s!

Sunshine, dof, onbeskof, but always smiling, will see you Monday!


26 thoughts on “This blog’s seriously going south

  1. Loved the “were party animals” crossed out!!!!!
    And as for “graubs” – now that is something I have definitely not heard since teenage times!!!
    What a great blog for a Friday…………….. fantastic as always x x

  2. “This usually meant a girl who was easy on the eye, especially if the eyes were covered in beer goggles.” Love this description!

    You’re definitely not a “dof”!


  3. Noooo. You cannot allude to a series of school dance mishaps and just be off with it. I expect a post on this later, Ms. Sunshine. 😉

    Ingewikkeld. That’s brilliant.

  4. The usual morning coffee chillax hilarity. Love relating and also learning new forrins. How boring this world would be without all these words. Let’s the Sunshine he he!
    Have a wonderful weekend xx

  5. You need to film yourself, ala a stand up comic, and put it on your blog. I really, really, really want to hear your accent. Barbara Steisand’s got nothing on you, babe, you are the Funny lady! Have a bomb weekend! That means great.

    Patty :>

  6. Funny blog. Love the word “ingewikkeld”, and am even more curious on the pronounciation. ha. “So hard you could throw a dead dog with it” cracked me up!

  7. Okay, here you go!! Questions for Listen to a Londoner interview…

    Where are you from originally, how long have you been in London and what brought you here?

    They say London holds nearly every culture in the world. If we wanted to experience a bit of South Africa this side of the equator, where would you recommend? (for food, drink, sport, clubbing, etc)

    Favourite place in London to spend a Friday or Saturday night with some good friends and live music? What’s the last event you saw there?

    Best random or unique London discovery?

    What has been your most challenging experience as an expat so far? Any advice for newcomers?

    I’ve got one night in London and want to get off the beaten track for a bit of food and drink. Where would you send me?

    Which area of London are you most familiar with and what’s the best part about it?

    If you’re feeling the stress of city life, where do you go to exercise or relax in London?

    You have a blog called Sunshine in London (ironic considering the reputation for gray skies and rainy days). What can we expect if we bring our morning coffee round for a visit?

    Tell us about a memorable moment that could only have happened in London.

    As soon as you send it back to me along with a photo, your full name and a 1-2 sentence intro, it will be up on the next open Saturday.


  8. Thanks for a very entertaining blog. It helped me to refresh some of my rusty Zim/Saffa expressions. I’m actually ‘Strine, but have worked on many projects in Zim/ Bots/ Nam/ SAfrica and beyond and you have one or two similar expressions. I’ve lived in the UK for quite a long time now, coming here as a late teenager and, over time, not being able to use your own slang expressions and ‘authentic’ voice I have two voices – one english and one is the original Australian which I only bring out on special occasions. I’ve selected Aussie accents for my ‘phone and computer voices and that always perks me up. Cheers.

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