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Eselgat

4 July 2007

The Americanisation of South African English.

When I look at the latest posts from South African bloggers on Amatomu I see an increasing use of American terms like “asshole”. When used by South Africans it translates into Afrikaans as “eselgat”, and then back into American as “burro burrow”.

I’ve heard radio panel discussions where one person will use the good old South African harass, while another will use the American harass — perhaps the influence of too many American cop TV programmes during the days of sanctions.

A similar change in stress, though I think it is more generational than geographical, is that people under thirty say “as well”, while those over thirty say “as well“.

On another blog I saw a comparison of American and South African business terms, where the blog author said that the American equivalent of the South African “retrench” is “lay off”. I think, however, one will find that “lay off” is the British equivalent. The American term is “downsize”. Where a South African would say “I’ve been retrenched”, and American would say “I’ve been downsized”. What both mean, of course, is “I’ve lost my job because the company I worked for retrenched/downsized”. Retrenchment and downsizing are synonyms, meaning cutting down on operations to reduce expenditure.

As someone once put it, “I say Carmeena, you say Carminea; let’s Carl the whole thing Orff.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kellen permalink
    4 July 2007 5:57 pm

    We say “as well” over here.

  2. 6 July 2007 1:36 pm

    Another variation is “aaAAAs well”, rising in the middle. I have always felt that this feature came from Zimbabwe/Rhodesia, for some reason, more than being age-related.

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