19 additional proudly-South African words have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary that reflect our country’s history and rich, diverse cultures.

Oxford University Press Dictionary content development manager Phillip Louw comments on the significance of the new South African-isms being added to the dictionary.

It is really exciting to be involved in the OED’s efforts to document South African English more comprehensively. As a historical dictionary, the OED not only captures the development of our unique variety of English, but also the history of our country as it’s reflected in the language that we use to define our reality. The picture is not always a simple one, though, and this latest update is no exception: the included words bear witness to a painful past and attempts at redress, while also casting light on the rich cultural diversity of our nation,” he says. 

Oxford English Dictionary announced in March that it had added the new words, which join a range of other South African words already in the dictionary.

A word qualifies for inclusion in the dictionary when independent examples from a reliable array of sources have been gathered and there is clear evidence that the word has been in use for a reasonable amount of time.

Of the 19 words, some have roots in Afrikaans language, some in social structures and some are references to the country’s history.

Here are the words now featured in the Oxford English Dictionary:

1. Black economic empowerment (noun)

Defined as the empowerment of black people to participate in the economy; spec. (in or with reference to South Africa) a government programme incentivizing the provision of employment and business opportunities for black people, with the aim of redressing their economic marginalization during apartheid

2. Black empowerment (noun)

Understood as the empowerment of black people; spec. (in or with reference to South Africa) a government programme incentivizing the provision of employment and business opportunities for black people, with the aim of redressing their economic marginalization during apartheid.

3. BEE 

An abbreviation for Black Economic Empowerment.

4. Bantu Education (adjective and noun)

Defined as the official system of education for black South Africans, initiated by the first Bantu Education Act of 1953.

5. Kgotla (noun) 

With heritage and roots in Sotho and Tswana, it refers to an enclosed area in a traditional village used for assemblies, court cases and meetings of leaders. It is considered a space where the village gathers.

Lekgotla (noun) 

Related to Kgotla, meaning an enclosure or public space where community assemblies take place. The word is used in the Sotho and Tswana language found in parts of South Africa.

6. Yebo (adverb and noun) 

Used to say yes or to express an affirmation, assent or agreement. It can sometimes be used as a noun.

7. Makgotla (noun) 

Defined as a traditional court of law consisting of village members; (in later use) a people’s court convened in a township. It is used Tswana and Sotho languages.

8. Lapa (noun)

A word that holds reference to a traditional Sotho homestead.

9. Koevoet (noun)

Refers to a paramilitary counter-insurgency unit of the South African police force, deployed in South West Africa (now Namibia) from 1979 until 1989.

10. Kanna (noun)

A South African succulent plant having white and yellow flowers with narrow, threadlike petals, Sceletium tortuosum (family Aizoaceae), the roots and leaves of which have traditionally been dried and chewed or smoked.

11. Jozi (noun)

A nickname for the city of Johannesburg

12. Joburg 

A nickname for the city of Johannesburg, because the first one was not enough.

13. Isicathamiya (noun) 

A Zulu word that refers to a style of unaccompanied singing originating amongst rural Zulu male choirs.

14. Imbizo (noun)

A meeting, an assembly; especially a gathering of the Zulu people, called by a traditional leader.

15. Hokkie (noun) 

An enclosure for domestic animals. Frequently with modifying word specifying the type of animal being kept.

16. Hok (noun) 

An enclosure for domestic animals. Frequently with modifying word specifying the type of animal being kept.

17. Hensopper (noun)

Refers to a Boer who surrendered to the British during the Boer War (1899–1902). Now also in extended use: a person who surrenders or who gives up on something.

18. Dof (adjective) 

Meaning stupid, dim-witted, uninformed, clueless; has roots in the Afrikaans language.

19. Bok (noun and adjective) 

South African word for an antelope.

A list of all South African words in the Oxford English Dictionary can be found here.

 

Picture: Pixabay

 

 

Article written by

Ishani Chetty

Ishani is a vegetarian who is passionate about animals, social issues, the environment and current affairs.