If you are a newcomer to South Africa who is visiting for the first time, then you may be wondering whether you will manage to navigate through the country with only English and perhaps some broken Spanish. One of the biggest misconceptions about the country is that no English is spoken, but rest assured – English is spoken almost everywhere in South Africa, and World Cup fans will have no trouble communicating during their travels. Like any country however, different languages are spoken across the country, therefore knowing a few key phrases in some of the main languages will see any visitor in good stead, and ensure that they are that much more likely to get their message across (and make new friends in the process).
The main languages spoken in South Africa consist of eleven official languages; however the ones you will most likely hear the most aside from English include the following:
While you will also hear a number of other languages, these are the ones you will come across the most, and therefore it will be a huge help to know a few key phrases in these languages. To get by in South Africa, where the majority speak English as a first, second or even third language, you will not need to have a perfect grasp of any of these languages, but learning a phrase or two will help you make friends and communicate better wherever you are in South Africa.
Top phrases to learn for the World Cup 2010 include the following:
- Afrikaans Phrases
Afrikaans is spoken widely across the country, more so in the Gauteng and North West provinces and cities such as Bloemfontein, Pretoria, Johannesburg and others. Afrikaans is very closely related to Dutch, and is vaguely similar to German.
- Gooie more/dag/aand – good morning/day/evening
- Aseblief – please
- Dankie – thank you
- Ja – yes
- Nee – no
- Totsiens – good bye
- Xhosa Phrases
Xhosa is mostly spoken in the Eastern and Western Cape, including Cape Town. You will hear this language in the townships around Cape Town as well as main towns and cities.
- Molo – hello
- Unjani? – how are you?
- Igama lam ngu… – my name is…
- Enkosi – thank you
- Andiva – I don’t understand
- Yimalini? – how much is this?
- Zulu Phrases
Zulu is mostly spoken in the KwaZulu-Natal areas, where the famous warrior Shaka had his epic history; places such as Durban have a strong Zulu population and speak this language prolifically.
- Sawubona – hello
- Ungangisiza? – can you help me?
- Uyasikhuluma isiNgisi? – do you speak English?
- Ngiyabonga – thank you
- Hamba kahle – go well (goodbye)
In addition to these languages, you may occasionally hear some seemingly strange slang terms across the major soccer cities of South Africa. With a diverse cultural blend that includes Asian, Indian, Dutch, English, Malay, Portuguese and even French in some cases, South Africa has developed its own unique culture which has elements of many different cultures. Look out for terms such as ‘hoesit’, ‘seriaaas’, ‘ayoba’, ‘smaak’, ‘kief’ and ‘bru’ as you enjoy your World Cup games at stadiums across the country, and don’t be shy to ask the local soccer fan next to you what they mean.
Regardless of the travel phrases you learn, the most important word that will be on everyone’s lips however is sure to be ‘soccer’, as the FIFA fever hits the world with a vengeance!