Joburg Expat: We Will Give You a Tinkle

June 2, 2011

We Will Give You a Tinkle

There are quite a few South Africanisms I find endearing. As you know I've been hearing "just now" quite a bit and have written an entire story about it, I love the word lekker for something yummy (but also for something pretty or something sexy), and I smile at how South Africans pronounce "year" (like yurr) and "milk" (mulk). They also enunciate their "t's" as in "letter" much better than Americans, which makes them sound very British (but not as stuffy). It's never "yes" but always "ja" instead which sounds like "yaw" and usually makes me want so salute and snap my heels together and yell "jawohl!" I now happily shout "well done" at netball matches instead of "good job," I point and say "that side" instead of "over there" and I automatically shoot back a "goodnyou?" when asked how I am doing.

But of all those things, nothing has amused me as much as what I heard today. I was at the uniform store, once again, this time for beanies (it has gotten cold in Joburg!), and the clerk informed me that unfortunately they were out of them. "But we will give you a tinkle when they arrive" he offered helpfully. I tried to keep a straight face while I backed out of the store and said that yes, I would definitely appreciate a tinkle. I refrained from educating him on the definition of "to tinkle" that I later found in the Urban Dictionary: "Often used by mothers when asking very young children if they need to use the toilet." Then again, South Africans probably aren't asked when it comes to editorial decisions of the Urban Dictionary.


For more South African terms I've accumulated, click here.

5 comments :

Bing said...

Singaporeans speak in a similar way. Haha.. We say "Ya" alot for "Yes". And we would say "that side" and "well done" too. =) Of course we are most famous for saying "CANNOT" for "No". Lol!

Sine said...

...and "-lah" after every other word!

Wayne said...

My son is a newly graduated engineer looking for a job. I purchased him the book "Cracking the Hidden Job Market" by Donald Asher. I have been reading the book and came across the phrase "tickle list" to refer those who receive short quick reminder messages. The author travels world-wide, but is American.

Sine said...

What do you know, I've never heard of a Tickle List. We had a name for those follow-ups in B-School but I can't remember now, but definitely had nothing to do with tickling!

W. A. Jeffrey said...

Very funny. It never ceases to amaze me how the same words and phrases can mean entirely different things in different countries. A particular favorite of mine is how South Africans say "around here."

I have also heard that certain common phrases in Afrikaans that when spoken to the Dutch sound hilarious.