English, Really What kind?

Posted by on May 5, 2012 in explanation | 0 comments

English, Really What kind?

English, Really What kind?

Sanibonani Friends!

We’ve been in South Africa, specifically the Pretoria/Johannesburg Area, for the past 10 months but our experiences haven’t been limited to this one country.  The Division office where I work covers 23 countries in the Southern Africa Indian Ocean Region and the cultures vary from place to place.  In most of the areas we’ve been especially South Africa where we live English is the Lingua Franca, there are 11 official languages for our Host Country but English is the common one that everyone speaks.

This was supposed to be good news right?  Ok it was good news but what they speak is a different version of English if you will.  The title of this post gives you a small window into what I mean, “I speak English.  Really what kind?” this may seem weird but if you think about it long enough it’s really not.  Take a born and raised, true blue Bostonian drop him/her in the deep south (i.e. Alabama, Mississippi, or New Orleans) and immediately there is a bit of a problem right?  The english the Bostonian will find in the Southern Part of the US won’t be the same and in some cases although rare words will have different meanings.  When I moved from Florida to Michigan to attend Andrews University I experience this as well, one of the more memorable ones was Pop/Soda – in the south we call Sprite, Coke, Pepsi, etc… Soda but in the midwest they call it Pop – took some getting used to but after 5 years there it became second nature.

So back to present day here are is a list of words (whole words) that have a different meaning in this part of the world:

South African –  American

  • Robot – Stop Light
  • Till – Cash Register
  • Queue – Line
  • Boot – Trunk
  • Gas – Propane
  • Fuel/Petrol – Gas
  • Garage – Gas Station
  • Bakkie – Small Truck
  • Serviette – Napkin
  • Toilet – Bathroom
  • Nappy – Diaper

I’m sure there are more and when I remember them I’ll add them to the list over the next couple days.  But just from reading what I’ve listed you can see that a simple conversation could get very confusing and lets not forget both parties are speaking english but just different versions – LOL.  I’ll share one of our experiences…

Driving Directions:  We were looking for a SuperMarket to buy some groceries and we were told it wasn’t far just 5 minutes or so from the house.  As we’re driving we stop to ask for some directions here is what we are told – “Keep going straight on this road past the first Robots you’ll see a Garage on your Left keep heading straight-on you’ll pass another set of Robots then at the 3rd set you’ll take a right and the shops will be on your Right.” – to this we replied Thank you So Much and drove off very slowly looking for Robots…….

ROFL, believe me we are still laughing about this one…

Ok I’m done laughing now so let me end by just sharing this, it’s very interesting to see the far reaching influence England has had on the world it set out to discover/conquer/explore.  Some of the terms above are unique to this area, some are from the Dutch influence, but others are directly from English society which was imposed or should I say force fed to all of it’s territories.  The first time I came to South Africa I was actually physically annoyed but Tea Time because I felt we couldn’t get any progress done on the project I came to complete.  No one has to ask where that came from, but more to the point of different perspectives: the phrases and/or influence of English society when compared to the culture of the States has a lot of Pros and Cons don’t you think?  I mean as annoyed as I was by Tea Time its not just about good digestion its about taking a small break from the Rat Race and appreciating those around you.  Not saying everyone who breaks for tea has this intent at heart but it sure is an interesting perspective to consider, dont you think?

Until Next time Salani Kahle!

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