"Language" Johannesburg Local Custom Tip by Gard

Johannesburg Local Customs: 32 reviews and 36 photos

Did you know that South Africa has 11 official languages? The languages (in alphabetical order) are Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu. You can get by without any problems speaking English in Joburg.

When I came there the first time I was a bit surprised by a few words. Nikki kept on saying ?turn right at the robots? when she was giving me driving instructions. Well, I didn?t really see that many robots in the streets :-) But robots is the word for traffic lights. When I talked to Nikki?s family and telling them things they kept on saying ?izzit?? (like in ?is it??). Well, my natural response was of course to confirm by saying ?Yes? but later on I realized that the ?izzit? is just a phrase being used when you listen to someone tell a story and I guess it can be translated into ?really?? There is also the expression ?howzit? which is more or less like ?Hi, how are you??

I also kept on asking for ketchup and got pretty blank faces. In this part of the world we?re only talking about ?tomato sauce?. Talking about food: one of the South African past times is barbecuing - known as ?braai?. One of the best things to braai is a boerewors - an excellent meat sausage (mixed with herbs & spices).

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  • Written Jan 24, 2005
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