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:
- Dof (dorf): dim, switched-off, not very bright or clever
- Onbeskof (ornbeskorf): cheeky, otherwise, difficult, facetious
- Deurmekaar (d’yearmakarr): all over the place, confused, disorganised
- 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!