Your final stop if in search of original Afrikaans idioms translated into English, and sure to make you smile.
Afrikaans, a language rich in idioms and emotions, is the world’s youngest national language and one of South Africa’s 11 official languages. Born about 350 years ago through a blend of Dutch, German and French spoken by settlers in what is now South Africa, Afrikaans is part of the West Germanic languages and is currently spoken by approximately 13 million people found mostly in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Idioms are reputable for having a meaning not deductible from that of the individual words. Let’s see how some Afrikaans idioms translate into English.
1. Alle grappies op ‘n stokkie
English: All jokes on a stick
Meaning: On a more serious note
2. As die hemel val is ons almal dood
English: If heaven falls, we’re all dead
Meaning: To complain less; let’s not always think about what could go wrong
3. Die aap uit die mou laat
English: To let the monkey out of the sleeve
Meaning: To release the cat out of the bag; to spill the beans
4. Die berge het ‘n muis gebaar
English: The mountain gave birth to a mouse
Meaning: When you put in a lot of effort into a project but have very little to show for it
5. Die bobbejaan agter die bult gaan uithaal
English: To fetch a baboon from behind the hill
Meaning: To think or talk about problems that haven’t happened yet, thus possibly making them happen.
6. Dis die klein jakkalsies wat die wingerde verniel
English: It is the small jackals that ruined the vineyard
Meaning: Small mistakes can cause big troubles
7. Die doodskleed het geen sakke nie
English: A dead man’s suit does not have pockets
Meaning: When you die, your possessions mean nothing
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8. Die geel baadjie aan hê
English: To wear a yellow jacket
Meaning: To be jealous
9. Die poppe gaan dans
English: The dolls will dance
Meaning: There’s going to be trouble
10. Dis ‘n feit soos ‘n koei
English: It’s a fact like a cow
Meaning: It is a fact you can’t argue with
11. Dit weet die aap se stert
English: What the monkey’s tail knows
Meaning: Something everyone knows
12. Hang aan ‘n tak
English: Hanging onto a branch
Meaning: Hold on for a second
13. Hoe kaler die jakkals, hoe groter die stert
English: The more naked the jackal, the bigger its tail is
Meaning: Those who have the least to show for themselves, brag the most
14. Hy het ‘n klap van die windmeul weg
English: He’s been hit by a windmill
Meaning: To not be sound of mind
15. Hy skil sy aartappels nie twee keer nie
English: You don’t peel your potatoes twice
Meaning: Get it right the first time.
16. Iemand heuning om die mond smeer
English: To rub honey on someone’s mouth
Meaning: To butter someone up with flattery
17. Iemand ‘n gat in die kop praat
English: To talk a hole in someone’s head
Meaning: To find a way to persuade someone (to do something bad)
18. Jakkals trou met wolf se vrou
English: The jackal is marrying the wolf’s wife
Meaning: Used when the weather is surprising: it rains on a sunny day
19. Jy krap met ‘n kort stokkie aan ‘n groot leeu se bal
English: You scratch a big lion’s bollocks with a shot stick
Meaning: To be arrogant; to push one’s luck
20. Katjie van die baan
English: A kitten from the track
Meaning: Used to describe someone with social skills, with humor. It can also be used when children stay up too late at night.
21. ‘n Aap in die mou hê
English: To have a monkey up your sleeve
Meaning: To have something up your sleeve; to hide a mischievous plan
22. ‘n Hond uit ‘n bos gesels
English: To talk a dog out of a bush
Meaning: To have a great conversation or to describe someone very chatty
23. ‘n Gat in die dag slaap
English: To sleep a hole in the day
Meaning: To sleep very late
24. ŉ Man van twaalf ambagte en dertien ongelukke
English: A man of twelve trades and thirteen accidents
Meaning: Used to describe a Jack of all trades, but a master of none
25. Moenie die hoender ruk nie
English: Don’t shake the chicken
Meaning: Don’t overdo it
26. Nes ‘n aap op ‘n stokkie
English: Like a monkey on a stick
Meaning: To look perplexed
27. Nou nou
Meaning: In a little while, in a bit
28. So ‘n bek moet jam kry
English: such a mouth should get jam
Meaning: Used when someone says something you agree with or when someone is witty and deserves a praise.
29. So skaars soos ‘n tweedehandse doodskis
English: As scarce as a second hand coffin
Meaning: Something extremely rare
30. Sy kerk is uit
English: His church is out
Meaning:It’s all over for him; he doesn’t stand another chance.
31. Twee rye spore loop
English: To walk two lines of tracks
Meaning: To be drunk
32. Wors in die hondehok soek
English: To search for a sausage in a dog’s kennel
Meaning: To look for the needle in the haystack, to look for something you cannot find.
Lees: Babadiertjies van Afrika:
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