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Lost in translation

While Americans have had their own English for many years now,
South Africans are just starting to redefine the language.

Herewith a brief summary of new definitions :

“QUIET DIPLOMACY” shall mean the act of thanking former
comrades in arms by standing aside or offering moral and/or
material support, while they implode an entire region.

“MCBRIDING” shall mean the act of rolling a motor vehicle,
denying you’re intoxicated and redefining the laws of your

(* Sometimes McBriders are reluctantly suspended and then

“ALCOHOL ANONYMOUS” shall mean the hysterical blindness suffered
by an entire political party in appointing, then retaining
a Cabinet Minister despite overwhelming evidence of

It can be used in sentences, eg “We need a Manto do this

“JUSTICE” (Botswana) shall mean an individual’s desire to
leave the Big Brother house and return home, or the act of
convicting a current South African minister of health.

“VLOK DIT VIR ‘N GRAP!” shall mean the act of digging up relics
for prosecution. It has no bearing on the Antiques Roadshow.

Like “trek” and other Afrikaans words, it will take its place
in the English dictionary.

“BROTHERS” shall mean Vlok dit for Chikanery, the living
proof that twins, while “identical”, can be so different.

Do not adjust your picture.

“NOZIZWED” shall mean the act of being too transparent.

It’s similar to wearing your heart on your sleeve, which
is precisely where the organ shall land if you continue to
push your luck.

“TOKYO” shall mean the former Japanese holiday destination
much beloved by white South Africans, now the name of a
presidential hopeful, much beloved by white South Africans.

“PRICE CONTROLS” (Zimbabwe) shall mean the act of freezing
prices despite market forces dictating otherwise.

See also our section on “Surviving in a country where there
isn’t even a roll of toilet paper on the shelves”.

Zimbabweans who felt really “bugged” by price controls are
now really being bugged by the Interceptions of Communications

“JUSTIN KEMP” shall mean (by his mother) a pinch hitter who during
the 50-overs World Cup scored 49 off just 567 897 564 345 345
balls … Hence “He’s Just in”.

And you thought only Zimbabweans knew the meaning of freezing.

“KALLIS” shall mean Vlok dit vir ‘n grap without the political
connotation. Perhaps he might be careful not to appear too


  • Mike Trapido is a criminal attorney and publicist having also worked as an editor and journalist. He was born in Johannesburg and attended HA Jack and Highlands North High Schools. He married Robyn in 1984 (Mrs Traps, aka "the government") and has three sons (who all look suspiciously like her ex-boss). He was a counsellor on the JCCI for a year around 1992. His passions include Derby County, Blue Bulls, Orlando Pirates, Proteas and Springboks. He takes Valium in order to cope with Bafana Bafana's results. Practice Michael Trapido Attorney (civil and criminal) 011 022 7332 Facebook

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