Communication In Namibia

The official language of Namibia is English - as the majority of Namibians speak English as a second or third language many local terms have been adopted - this new hybrid language is often referred to as Namlish! Here we will try to guide you through a few of these terms and expressions.

Baas Literally boss, often used to refer to any white male.
Babbelas Hangover
Bakkie A pick up truck / utility truck. They come in various shapes and forms and owning a large powerful one is more of a status symbol than owning a Porsche
Biltong Dried meat - sometimes likened to jerky but a completely superior product. South Africans will claim biltong as their own invention - but everyone knows that Namibia has the best biltong! An essential for long road trips.
Braai A barbeque - taken to completely unfathomable social heights
Broetchen A bread roll - so common is the usage that even those Namibian's who profess English to be there mother tongue may initially look at you blankly if you ask for a bread roll!
Cherrie Pretty girl or girlfriend. 'I met my cherrie at the shebeen, then we hopped in my bakkie and drove around town drinking beer'
Cuca Shop A bar (mainly in the northern areas of Namibia - while central and southern Namibia would usually use the term Shebeen), the name was derived from a Portuguese beer once sold in Angola.
Dankie Thank you
I Will Phone You Back You will never hear from me again
It's Ntja! Everythign is great!
Koppie A small hill rising out of the veld
Lapa Thatched outside living area. Often equipped with a braai and a bar
Meme Polite term for an older lady
Nawa Nice or good
Oom Literally the Afrikaans for uncle - but used as a term of respect towards older people
Paining It hurts ( eg. My head is paining? Is it because you have a babbelas? No baas! you know I never drink during the week!)
Potjie A three legged cooking pot - designed for being placed on an open fire or coals. Potjiekos - is the food produced in the pot.
Reinheitsgebot German purit law from 1516. Amongst other things regulated that the only ingredients used for the brewing of beer must be Barley, Hops and Water. A source of pride for all Namibians is that our beers are brewed in accordance to these regulations making them very ntja!
Robot A traffic light. Once you leave Windhoek these are not something you will frequently encounter.
Sharp Sharp! Things are doubly sharp (good)
Shebeen A cuca shop not situated in northern Namibia. Once was used only for unlicensed drinking places - but most now have official shebeen licences.
Skinner Gossip
Sosatie Meat on a stick - basically a Kebab
Stoep Verandah
Takkies Sneakers / running shoes
Tate A term of respect for an older man
Tjaila Time to leave work
Tombo Locally produced sorghum beer
Tsotsi A criminal
Wors Or Boerewors (literally 'farmers sausage'). A staple at braais around the country

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