Gautrainer - Do you even speak South African?

2014-05-16 14:47

Ever looked at someone and think "what did you just say?" Do you  even speak South African?

In our great country we speak or rather acknowledge many languages,  encouraging is how, the Gautrainers, and maybe the rest of S.A. are creating our own unique language, mixing and adding and bending - and it is ours, proudly South African.

What is great for the optimist in me is that whatever does not grow or change with the times have the tendency to die or be discarded. So, in many ways we will keep many of our languages alive, but in a totally different form.  In an effort to amuse (mostly myself again) I have started compiling some of the lingo with scenario's to better explain the words. Please, if anyone has anything to add, maybe we can create our own South African dictionary, "speaking in rainbows" or something. This forum is too compact to list all, so I will only mention a few, I will however from time to time share new ones when I come across them.

  • On Monday morning  the bus stops suddenly and the driver opens the doors, a panting, red in the face woman enters the bus "Eish" she says and the whole bus burst out in laughter - Eish - probably our favorite word,  meaning -  I don't know - in her case I am pretty sure it meant " geez did you see that sprint?"
  • As I have mentioned, the train is sometimes a little overcrowded so it happens very often that you will literally step on someone's toes, and then you will hear " hey wena" with a very quick, "I'm so sorry, really, are you ok?" - Wena - meaning: you, person stepping on my toe.
  • Another favorite word these days is "leke" - in normal conversation you will hear "so how are you? "no, leke man, no problems" - leke meaning - very good (the spelling is correct seeing as there is currently no word like this and we tend to stretch it when saying it, so no double "k")

We also have our understanding and interpretations of words, many lost in translation, but funny.

  • Announcement : " train approaching, please step back from the platform edge" - Interpretation and action taken: take two steps forward, three if you are at the back (slide to the left, slide to the right) depending on where the trains stops.
  • Announcement: "please wait for customers to disembark" - Interpretation and action taken: storm in, no, press the button on the door until the light starts flickering (even if it does not work this way). Push in, if you are in the back push harder, you might get the seat of the dude that is trying to get out but can't.
  • Some of the stations  have placed lines strategically on the platform, red and green lines, and on these lines are written "stay clear" - I suspect this is an effort to curb the problem of the point mentioned above. Interpretation and action taken: people will stand between the lines and around it, but we will not stand directly on the lines, after all, it does say "stay clear"

Albert Einstein said " I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction" - how strange to see people not talking in the train but texting rather, or looking at something on their iPads - and please note, if a person has his or her headphones on its similar to a "do not disturb" sign.

At least the bobbing of the heads to totally different beats gives one a reason to smile. Our communication has deteriorated so badly that the other day on the train a person was telling a joke, to a group of friends I assume, and the one guy actually laughed with "LOL" he did not laugh he smiled and said "L.O.L" - 1 of dese days we r gonna wrte bks lke tht.

This week I would like to thank  the friendly Police Service guys, who gave up their seats, every morning, to able bodied people, even if we all have equal rights - and for passionately talking about their work, it is inspiring.

A thought though, I think the train is the perfect place for either a "flash mob" or a Leon Schuster prank - maybe that will get us talking to each other... well, at least for a little while.

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