Moving to Cape Town to learn English holds its own challenges and adventures. Here you will realise that even if you have a very good understanding of English, South Africans use certain words that are just confusing to any and all foreigners in spoken English.

Here are five of the most common South Africanisms you will come across while exploring South Africa.

Izzit? :This is great word to use in conversations. Derived from the two words “is” and “it”, it can be used when you have nothing to contribute if someone tells you something. For instance, if someone would say: “I bought a new car yesterday.” Anywhere else in the world you’d reply with “Really?” or “Did you?” but here in South Africa it is quite appropriate to respond by saying: “Izit?” (Really?!)

Howzit?!:  It is a universal South African greeting, meaning “How are you?” and you will hear this word throughout the country. It is often accompanied with the word “Yes!” as in: “Yes, howzit?”. In which case you answer “No, fine” or “Good and You”?

Shame:  This one is used a lot….. but it is hard to describe that one. Almost like the word “like” said by an American teenager. It simply fits in everywhere, and often. It can be used in various contexts as in “that’s adorable!” or “that’s horrible!” can be confusing but its always a reaction to something.

Robot: If you’re new to South Africa, you’ll have to learn that one quickly if you ever want to understand the directions people give you. Here is South Africa we actually call Traffic lights, “robots”.

Just Now and Now Now: In much of the outside world, this is a comforting phrase: “Now now, it’s really not so bad.” But in South Africa, this phrase is used in the following manner: “Just wait, I’ll be there now now, or “I’ll see you just now” .” It means “a little after now” or in a short while.

BOOK NOW