Tag: South African English

To date, region-specific pronunciations for words from 10 varieties of English have been added to the OED, namely Scottish, Irish, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, South African, Caribbean, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysian, and Philippine English.

Shibboleth, Sibboleth: pronouncing international Englishes

‘Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right’ says Judges 12:6 of the King James Bible. The word Shibboleth was adopted more broadly to refer to language which can be used to identify those who belong (or rather, do not belong) to […]

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How good is your South African English?

How good is your South African English?

We’ve tested your knowledge of British English, American English, and Australian English – but how good is your South African English? You might know the word lekker or have heard the melodious toot of a vuvuzela, or have discovered that just now and now-now don’t really mean ‘now’… but how far does your knowledge of […]

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twerk

Freegan, yarn bombing, and the surprisingly long history of twerk: new words in the OED

The online Oxford English Dictionary (OED) launched on 14 March 2000, and since the OED generally does not add neologisms until they have had some time to establish themselves, the newest words in the early updates tended to be terms that had emerged in the 1990s. Fourteen years on, that has begun to change, and […]

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The language of gift-giving

The language of gift-giving

So, the Christmas season is well and truly upon us, something that tends to either warm the cockles of one’s heart, or bring about a blinding depression. For many people the cause of holiday angst is the entire hullabaloo made about gifts and shopping – there is an increasing complaint that the gift-giving (or commercial) […]

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The future of language: South African English

The future of language: South African English

In 2011, South African author Lauren Beukes won the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction for her second novel Zoo City. It was a big moment for the author as it puts her in the company of illustrious recent winners such as, among others, China Miéville (who has won it three times in the […]

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Monkey's wedding is a South African expression meaning ‘rain while the sun shines’

South African English: braais, babalaas, and a monkey’s wedding

As a South African ex-pat living in the UK and working for Oxford Dictionaries, I often think about the similarities and differences between the English spoken ‘back home’ and standard British English. Robots have taken over the city … There were some South African words I quickly stopped using after moving here, to avoid confusion […]

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South Africa political terms

Mandela, ubuntu, and the born frees of Mzansi

The peculiarities of South Africa’s political and economic heritage meant that in the twentieth century it bequeathed to English, among other things, a number of political terms that captured the mood of those troubled times. February sees two notable milestones, the twenty-first anniversaries of the unbanning of the African National Congress (ANC) and of the […]

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