In South Africa, there are 11 official languages. Stop and think about that for a minute… 11 languages can be an amazing culmanation of cultures and ideas as well as a source to barriers to communication and conflict. I have been emersed in an enviornment that is rich in so many ways yet I have witnessed on many occasions conflict due to misunderstandings. One of the courses that was choosen for the leadership academy was communication strategies and picked for good reason. The essential need to be understood by others creates trust and unity. This past week on November 9th the leadership class learned about ways to better communicate and to be aware of possible barriers. It was interesting to hear one of the learners recognize the need for communication as we discussed a key issue in this community. She went on to say “we hear, we know but we fail to want to understand”. How many times have you been in a meeting where people nod and agree yet after the meeting nothing is done or what is done is the exact opposite where people start bad talking the idea for implementation. This is such a key point. So many times people hear, and know but don’t want to understand due to thier own frustrations, attitudes and judgements without airing out what is on their mind during the conversation/meeting.
On a fun note, I have had some fun learning different phrases and words used by South Africans and may are in the english language but used so differently. I sometimes giggle to myself and sometimes out loud how a certain word can be used and mean something totally different. Here are some examples:
- “Just Now” i.e see you just now now – This means in the future, now being in a little while and now now meaning sometime soon but not in the next couple minutes. If you think about how Americans use “just now” it’s usually to discribe the past, usually happening just now not something going to happen.
- “Proper” i.e. You need to experience a proper braii (BBQ) – This is straight forward but they use proper when describing something of high quality. At home we don’t tend to use proper often but when we do it’s usually describing someing in a formal sense.
- “Pleasure” i.e. Thank you … Pleasure. – They say these instead of your welcome. No one says your welcome here. They say Pleasure not my pleasure but pleasure. This one makes me giggle.
- “Neh” or “Nah” – i.e. This is the way you do it Neh? – They use this usually as a question as we would say yeah?
- “Bro or Brew, or Oak” – i.e. Yo, brew can you pass me the ball – This is used for in as a freindly form of the word friend or buddy. Back at home bro could work but brew would probably mean beer and oak would probably mean a kind of tree.
- “Lekker” – i.e. I lekker coke – This is slang for liking something. This one is fun but to say it you have to roll your r and I am not so good at doing that.
- “Standard” – i.e. These pants are not up to standard – This is straight forward but back at home we don’t tend to say standard more like the norm. Here things seem to differ in quality so they use standard a lot like proper to describe something not up to par.
- “Sho or Eish” – This is used in replace of saying, Are you kidding? or No way or That’s not right.
- “What What” – ie. So he was telling me about how to build the shack and what what. This means and so on and so on. Back at home we would probably say yada yada.
- “Shap or Shap Shap” – i.e. How is everything? Shap. This means good typically. You use it to indicate everything is OK. Back at home we’d just say ok or good.
With only one month left there are still so many things still to do but I feel good about how things have gone so far within my assignment and the progress. My next post I will share with you the vision statements the 7 Hubs have created on their operational plans. Until then… Thanks for reading and enjoy the South African slang!