So my original plan for today was to see how much South African vocab I could introduce in five minutes of writing, but then my seven-year-old boy who happens to steal my heart all over again every single day jumped into the challenge with great enthusiasm and has written for five minutes on the past three prompts: GO, KNOW and today’s word, SAY.

He even asked if I would post his writing on my blog.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Coming from a kid who refused my invitations to join in with Five Minute Friday during the past school year and the kid who is very self conscious about his writing, I simply couldn’t resist his nascent confidence.

I’ll translate below, in case some of you lack creativity in your spelling (or the ability to decipher a seven-year-old’s script).

Here’s what he wrote:


Caleb's Five Minutes of Writing - 2


I like to go to restaurants.ย  I like to play at the playground.ย  I think that the playground slides go so fast.ย  I also like to go on a plane.ย  Planes go crazy fast.


I like to know what food’s ingredients are.ย  I know a lot of math.ย  I know that tomato sauce is made with tomatoes.ย  I know what my favorite fruit is.ย  It is watermelon. I also know that I like plums and oranges and peaches.


I speak a lot.ย  I like to say a memory verse.ย  I like to say math problems.ย  I like to say my spelling words.ย  I like to say my favorite animal.ย  It is a lion.ย  I like to see birds flying in the sky.ย  I like to see animals.ย  I like supper and breakfast and lunch and I like my mom’s food.


Now tell me that’s not the most adorable thing you’ve seen on this blog.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

But just so I’m not accused of cheating in my own challenge, I’ll throw in my own five minutes on “say,” for what it’s worth — even though we all know I can’t top what’s already been said.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚


Here we go …


SA flag


Learning the differences between American and South African vocab were some of my favorite parts of cross-cultural living.

I still remember one flight on a South African Airways, where my sandwich was delivered to me in a cardboard box that had South African lingo explained on each side.ย  My box had the word “tekkies,” which are tennis shoes or sneakers.

There is a huge overlap with British vocab, such as bonnet and boot instead of a hood or trunk of a car.ย  Strollers are prams, diapers are nappies, pacifiers are dummies.ย  Grocery carts are trolleys, and ketchup is tomato sauce.

The most confusing for me is that jelly is jam there, and Jell-O is jelly.ย  Eggplants are brinjals and zucchini is baby marrow.

Pick-up trucks are bakkies and VW minibuses are kombis.

And those are all things that my brain had an American equivalent for … nevermind the biltong, vetkoek, koeksisters, and boerewors.

Oh, and the word “shame” is used so perfectly but inexplicably unless you’re there .. almost like, “agh, sorry, man,” or “that’s too bad,” … but my explanation doesn’t suffice.

My all-time favorite?ย  To honk the horn of your car is to toot the hooter.


This is Day 8 of 31 Days of Life in South Africa.ย  Each post has been written in just five minutes.ย 

Follow along by entering your e-mail address in the sidebar on the right, and posts will be delivered straight to your inbox!ย  Also, don’t miss each Friday in October, as there will be a different giveaway every week!



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15 thoughts on “lost in translation {day 8 :: say}

  1. “crazy fast”………that’s just adorable! I was thinking the other day that I needed to get my boy into this five minute writes. Today just might be the day! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. This is so adorable!! And such a great way to involve your kids! My 7 year old just started writing poems – such a great idea to put it on the blog!

  3. Yes. Adorable. And toot the hooter just made me laugh out loud. Thank you for sharing, and special thanks to your son… because there isn’t much that seeing a kid’s handwriting doesn’t fix… unless, of course, you’re the Mama slaving over making the kid write. =) Blessings to you!!!

  4. Ag, I love your words, they make me homesick…:)
    I still use many of these words and get strange looks from people when I say shame all the time. But it’s just so appropriate everyhere! ๐Ÿ™‚ My favorite is lekker which you can also use everywhere. That’s confusing here in Germany where this word only goes for food.
    Even better than the words is the sound. Whenever I hear the sound of SA English somewhere I have to turn around and talk to these people! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Eish batho! I love it! ๐Ÿ™‚ Both 5 minutes…People still look at me oddly when I say something had “gone off” rather than spoiled, or “knock off” rather than leave early. Shame! ๐Ÿ™‚ For real though, I thought I would lose this quickly, but it sneaks in. A “denkie” here or a “yebo” there….and all those strange looks I get!

    Also, your kid is brilliant! What sweet, honest writing….I love me some watermelon too, dude! ๐Ÿ˜€ I have some spotted “moon and stars” watermelon with orangish flesh in my garden that he’d go crazy for.

      • Robots!! Oh how I had a hilarious discussion about robots with a teacher in my school! I need to work that into my 31 days. Hehehehe! #cluelessAmerican

        And…you’re making me hungry. There better be some vetkoek around too! And what I would do for some samp and beans! I was always awful at making it…

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