Tag: South African English

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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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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It is better to give than to receive


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) […]

The future of language: South African English in Zoo City

South African English in Zoo City

Earlier this year 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 […]

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


On 27 April South Africans celebrate Freedom Day, the anniversary of the country’s first democratic elections in 1994. 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 […]

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south africa

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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