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Learning South African Slang, Pt. 2

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Getting to Grips with South African Slang, Pt. 2

The South African slang doesn’t end with our part 1 and, there is also a part 3 to follow. There is still a lot more if you want to speak with the local flair, so here are a few more South Africanisms worth knowing.



Tekkies is the South African word for trainers/sneakers but specifically the running, ‘dad’ version of the shoe. There is an entire chain of stores named after sexy running numbers. Pack a pair for your visit – they’re the ideal safari shoe. 


“China” refers to a friend or a mate. “Howzit, my china” means “Hello mate”.



A bakkie is South African slang for a pick-up truck. Arguably one of South Africa’s favourite vehicles, it’s difficult to drive a few miles/meters without spotting one. There is a real chance that you’ll see way too many people sitting on the back of bakkies – this is normal.



‘Sjoe’ is a popular exclamation word used in multiple contexts. “Sjoe it’s hot today”.  It can also be used in response to a shocking or interesting statement. “I have to catch a 6 am flight tomorrow morning” “Sjoe that’s a rough one, hey” – “Wow, that’s going to be a difficult morning.”



This is South African slang to the tee – two of the most simple English words simplified even more. Used in response to just about everything, issit is often used to replace ‘really??’ It can be used to express shock, anger or amusement. “We saw lions on our game drive yesterday.” ”Issit?!”

Want to add to your South African vocabulary?

Read part 3 of our South African slang blogs here.

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