it’s all greek to me!

wow!!! what an eventful few months!

ironically, just as i got my fingers back on the keyboard, life conspired to get me busy doing the other thing i do really well, actually, the thing i do best. acting.

i booked a role in a german movie which was shooting in cape town and from one week to the next, i had to organize a house/dog-sitter and haul ass down to the sea.

flashback 30 or so years:

i meet Wolfgang who becomes my first boyfriend, then i meet my terrible twin, sylvia – both germans. soon we are all hanging out ALL the time and they’re speaking ze cherman around me and almost by osmosis i’m beginning to understand a lot of it. so i decide to do german intensive during my third year at uct. i didn’t do spectacularly, but having been exposed to two native speakers, my german accent is really not bad and i lied, it’s not entirely greek to me.

over the years that smattering of german has stood me in really good stead. well, not that often, but it was there when i needed it. like in moscow circa 1991, seeing that i basically understood “spasiba”, “dobra utra”, “dasvadanya” and as most russians  spoke no english back then in the ice-age ;), for any kind of communication, we had to fall back on our common second-language: german! next came budapest in 1997 and once again my little knowledge of german helped to get me around the city and in the general direction of where i needed to be.

a few years later: i’m cast in another german movie and once the lead actress hears me speaking german, that’s it. she insists that i act in german and that they not dub me. (a little aside here: on these movies the german actors all do their dialogue in german and the local cast speaks either english or afrikaans and are then dubbed, at great expense, back in germany. apparently german voice-over artists are some of the highest-paid performers in the country! it’s a peculiar thing, this acting in different languages – invariably, language which to the other person is as incomprehensible as the gibberish spoken between baby twins in those viral you-tube videos. it really takes some doing.

flash forward to mid-november: i get cast in this latest movie and i (overconfidently) tell the director and producer that i will attempt the dialogue in german. this before i read the script. before i realize  just how big the part is and how many monologues i will have to master! suffice to say that it was one of the most challenging things i’ve had to do in a long time. normally, i do my prep for a day’s shoot, but i never really learn the words till i finally get to run the dialogue with the other actors. that way the performance stays fresh and much more believable. it feels that way for me, at least. well, this time around, unless i put in endless-nights-in-my-hotel-room-worth of prep-time, there was no way i would be able to get through the scenes. my brain did gymnastics. my tongue twisted. all while i was slathered in layers of fake-tan, make-up, a lace-front wig and stilettos to die for (and good as they looked, i sure felt like i was dying after each day’s shoot – of back-pain )!

it was scary and exhilirating and mind-expanding and it’s making me explore going to the goethe institute here in johannesburg this year and taking some more lessons so i can finally master this infernal language, instead of being it’s sub.


we were fooling around on set and in that outfit i just had to do a kim k impersonation! 🙂

so, that was some of my experience with the germans. lots more transpired these last few months, but i’ve been so verbose,  it’ll have to wait till next time.

oh, and happy new year!!! 🙂

somewhere over the rainbow


so this was meant to be a funny post inspired by blog-mate, po’s post about “debbin”.
hey i love language (i write a blog, don’t i?). i love the common roots of language and how i can figure out some foreign languages simply because they have the same origins as the ones i know.  i love the sound of language. i love accents. how the same words on the page, can come out of different mouths sounding like they have nothing in common.
in fact most people outside of america refer to the place i lived for 12 years as los ange-lees, whereas no native angeleno calls it anything but los ange-liss – in fact, it’s a dead give-away. hey, you say potato… 
so when someone posted the VITAL GUIDE TO SABC TV PRONUNCIATION on the notice board at work, i thought it was funny and pretty apt. if you know the average black south african accent, you’ll know it’s pretty spot on. which is what makes it funny. so i searched for it online and found it. 

Beck – not the front
Beds – doves, vultures, etc.
Ben – to set alight
Cut – a small vehicle drawn by a donkey
Errors – districts, e.g. “Ebbon errors” (urban areas)
Farra – The man that is married to your Marra
Feather – implies distance – Cape Town is feather than Johannesburg
Fok – pronged cutlery, often used with a knife.
Guddin – around your house, where you grow plunts
Get – a hinged opening in a fence
Hair – as opposed to him
Hiss – masculine form of hairs
Itch – as in “itch and aviary pairsin”
Kennel – Army officer
Len – to acquire knowledge
Marra – The Woman that is married to your Farra
Mills – Food – what the Poh Pee-Pull have to some how go without
Pee-Pull – Die Mense / people
Poh Pee-Pull – Die Mense / people who are financially challenged
Phlegm – the hot part at the end of a candle
Piss – symbolised by white doves
Suffa-Ring – as in “the pee-pull are suffa-ring”
Parrot Teksi – not a mamba of the teksi assoseshen
Soaka – A sport, often played between Kaiser Chiefs and Pirates.
Texis – Mini Bus capable of conveyeying entire Civilizations from point to point
Toks – Negotiations
Weaner – the weaner takes all
Wekkas – they do the wek
Weld – The Earth
Wok – what you must learn to do before you can run.

but you know how the internet is. one click leads to another. and another. (look for what i found at the bottom of this post – it’s worth a smile).

and i was chuckling away to myself, reading some of the definitions, when i looked at the website it was on and the kinds of comments people on this website were making. it was another one of a rash of sites which has sprung up over the last few years – full of  racist, bigoted invective. making jokes about how, now that one supposedly cannot use the k-word (for those of you not from africa, it’s basically the n-word), you instead use the word jacks – acronym for “just another confused k#@fer”.

this site talks about how south africa is going to the dogs. you know, another whine about “the good ole days” when men were boere and the jacks knew their place. it really makes me sick. those of you who regularly read my blog know that i am extremely ambivalent about being back in south africa. i abhor the crime, i cringe at the lack of ethics and the plunging morale, but i think we are all responsible. and to quote mr gandhi,  i think we all need to be the change. i sometimes think i live in such a bubble. in the states i’m “black”, here i’m “coloured” (in fact, i still have an i.d. book from the old south africa which classifies me as “other coloured”). whatever! if you want to put me in a pigeonhole, put me in the one labeled “human”. i don’t identify with a lot of racial issues – i’m more interested in what’s on your mind, than the state of your melatonin.  

so, i had my bubble burst, once again – rather rudely. and i hate to say it, but it seems to me the colors of our rainbow nation are running in the wash, and if we’re not careful, we’re going to be bleeding all over each other. 

on that upbeat note, hope you’re having a great weekend.


Egg shelly: actually
eh: a
eh eh eh eh eh eh: erhm
foket/fogget: forget
Fore runners: people from other countries/ xenos
I wel keel you: I love you and speek in metafors
Jaadge: Spineless person in Zooma’s pocket known as “The judge” 
Kots: Deeh ples wehr Zooma en hiss loyas go to rape justees
veh-geh-tah-bel: what you eat to cure AIDS



An anagram for Gauteng: get a gun.

A survivor’s guide to SABC TV pronunciation in the new SA:

AWA – as in “awa dee-mands”

BAD – You sleep on it in the badroom

BECK – not front

BEDS – doves, vultures, etc

BEN – to set alight

CHE – something you sit on

CHEALDREN – our future is in their hands

CHETZ – where worshippers go on Sundays

CUDS – you can play poker or rummy with them

COMPOOTA – Intel’s marvellous invention

CUT – a small donkey-drawn vehicle

DEEKSHUNRY – where you wind weds

DETTY – opposite of clean

DIE’LAAS – as in drug die’laas

DOE – a hinged device for closing a hole in the wall

DRIVA – holds the steering wheel of the teksi

DUCK – very duck at night when the lights are all off

DUTS – a sport somewhat unlike sorka

EBBEN – you get ebben erriors and rural erriors

ERRORS – districts, eg “Ebbon errors”

EWWAYS – eg. SAA and Comair

FEATHER – not klossa (“he heet the bol feather than Jonty”)

FEMS – companies eg. Anglo – American

FEST – the one before second and therd

FOK – used with nifes

FUM – you can fum with ship or kettle

FUMMA – he owns the fum

GUDDIN – around your house, where you grow “kebbi-gees”

GEAVE – you must geave, I WILL take

GET – a hinged device in a fence

HAIR – as opposed to him

HEPPI – state of elatement eg I’m so heppi – I just voted

HISS – masculine form of hairs

HUBBA – where sheeps dock

JEMS – little bugs that give you the flu

ITCH – as in “itch and aviary pair-sin shal hev wun”

KAH – what you drve around in

KATTOGRY – in a system of clasification

KEBBIJEES – a green vegetable

KENNEL – ummy officer

KIPPER – one who kips, as in goalkipper

KLEENIX – where nesses weck

KU – small teksi

LEEDA – As in awa leeda, the president

LEN – to acquire knowledge

LUNGWISH – weds what are spokkin

MICK – those who shall inherit the earth

MIENING – what is the miening of this attack

MUCH – a protest, usually involving toyi-toying

NESSES – they weck in kleenix and hospitaals

PEE PULL – powa to da pee pull

PAPPA – one way to get the news

PEES-TOX – between John Major and the IRA

PESSON – one of pee pull

PHLEGM – the benning top at the end of a kendal

PISS – symbolised by white doves

REEVA – Limpopo, Vaal,

REGIME – anything to describe pre-1994

REE KWEST – replaced by dee mands

RENT – n/a – word obsolete

SCOTCHED ETH – guerilla tactic

SHEEP – what move on water

SHET – item of clothing

SHEX – houses in a squatter camp

SHIP – what graze on de land

SHIT OF PEPPA – something to write on

SHUCK ATTACK – if the shuck-net is brokkin

SPITCH – what politicians make at a relly

SUFFA-RING – as in “the pee-pull are suffa-ring”

SUTH – opposite of North

SWEMAS – compete in a sweaming pul

TEPS – solvent to thin enamel paint

TECK – see geave

TEKSI – public transport vehicle

PARROT TEKSI – not a mamba of the teksi assoseshen

FLET – a common problem with teksi tayas

PEVMUNT – where you wak nex to the strit, and where some teksi’s druv

TENNING POINT – the top of a parabola

THEST – ice cold Coke will relieve it on a hot day

TIPI KALLY – characteristic

TOKS – negotiations

UMMY – military force

WEE MEN – ladies

WE PON – a gun

WEAN-DOW – with glus for throwing bricks through

WEANED – gone with the weaned

WEANER – takes all

WECKLISS – the unemployed pee pull

WEKKAS – they do the wek

WELD – the earth

WEDS – what the deekshunry is made up of , things that form a sentence (not an “inkusareshen”)

WEMS – small crawly creachaars

WETH – she is weth her weight in gold.

Seetees of the Nu Suth Efreeka:

KEPTAN – on western coast, renowned for “treffik conges-shen”

DEBBIN – on other coast, where “sefas” go to “ketch wevs”

E-SLUNNIN – near “St Judges Puk” for the “kreekut”

JENNISBEG – keptital seetee