Speaking South African

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It’s no revelation that language defines our lives. Through our interactions and understanding, our laughter, comfort and our survival, language plays a leading role in every little moment. We all know the value of a smart and beautifully crafted script, which is why our tribal Scriptwriters are so cherished and much loved!

But the magic and the evolution of language was bough home to me by a commercial I heard on Radio Five in South Africa recently. It made me recall the time I spent living in LA when I was driving up La Cienega Blvd having picked up my hired Mustang from LAX, and the radio jockeys were slipping seamlessly between Spanish and English as they presented their show. For me, as a Spanish student-wannabe it was so beautifully lyrical and, as I came to learn in those three month, so representative of an Angelino’s everyday life.

I thought little of that radio experience consciously until now in KwaZulu-Natal driving along the beach road to Ballito and finding myself giggling at a vibrant mix of slang and dialect on the local radio station. Bear in mind there are 11 official languages in South Africa! I grew up speaking three – English, Afrikaans and a bit of Zulu. But they always seemed to be their own individual entities, so I loved hearing this new natural and easy flow that pulled the best from all three and mixed them in a vibrant and truly individual language of South African.

A country, community and society have evolved their own language, one that works for the everyday needs and reflects their new identity. It is its own beautiful mix of all the good, the expressive and the real. And yussus, it’s just awesome, impela!

Header photo taken at the Nelson Mandela capture site in the Natal Midlands, Kwazulu-Natal


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