Languages of South Africa

Due to the variety of cultures and ethnic groups living in South Africa, the country has eleven official languages. Not everyone in South Africa can speak all eleven, so visitors need not worry. The majority of South Africans can speak and understand English, so tourists will be able to communicate with locals relatively easily. The eleven official languages are Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Xhosa, Zulu, Sesotho (Southern Sotho), Sesotho sa Leboa (Northern Sotho), Setswana, Swati, Tshivenda, and Xitsonga.

Many South Africans mix and match the languages together, which leads to South Africa having a very unique local language. A few words that could make life a little easier for foreign visitors are : Braai (A barbeque), Yebo (African word meaning yes), Lapa (The courtyard enclosed by a circle of Ndebele huts now used to refer to any outdoor enclosure built of mud or brick), Lekker (Afrikaans word meaning nice or enjoyable), Howzit (A simplified version of ‘How is it’), Robot (A traffic light), Garage or Petrol Station (Gas Station), Bakkie (Light pickup truck or van) and Stoep (Veranda or porch). Learning a local language can be an advantage and an exciting educational experience.

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