Is there an standard English dialect to use for programming and documents?

This question came up today in one of my code reviews at work. Where I used colour (South Africa English/British English) instead of color. Our company’s opinion is to use American English for programming. Which is fine if they want to do it that way, I just wondered if there is a standard dialect to … Read more

Word for semi-open structure used for making braais in South Africa

I’m looking for a word for a semi-open structure that is traditionally used for making braais (barbecue) in South Africa. The one I have in mind had a thatched roof, but I reckon that is not necessarily a rule. The building stood in the backyard. The building had one wall on each end, and the … Read more

Plural of the term “South African” when referring to more than 1 person

I’m wondering about the plural of the term “South African” when used in context: There are two South African people standing there. My wife and I are South African here in Argentina. The first one sounds more correct as: South African The second one sounds more correct as: South Africans or is it South African … Read more

What is the etymology of “dwanky?”

Dwanky or Dwankie – someone or something that is lame, stupid, uncool, or generally undesirable. Generally used as an insult or in a derogatory way. Zef slang. Can be used as both a noun: “Look at those dwankies over there!” and an adjective “That’s dwanky.“ That’s a word we have in South Africa, “dwanky.” It’s … Read more

What are the South African words for crisps and French Fries?

Consider Exhibit A. Consider Exhibit B. In England, A is referred to as ‘Chips’ and B is referred to as ‘Crisps’. In the United States A is referred to as ‘French Fries’ and B is referred to as ‘Chips’. In Australia A is referred to as ‘Chips’ and B is referred to as ‘Chips’. My … Read more

Which version of English is most common in Switzerland?

Since I’m from South Africa (a former British colony) and attended a British school, I mostly write English in a British way. Given that there are also Americans in Switzerland, one also comes across American spellings in written text. This had me wonder which version of English would be “most standard” for use in Switzerland. … Read more

Is the phrase “I just sucked it out of my thumb” used in American English?

I was born and raised in South Africa. We frequently used the term “to suck out of one’s thumb”, implying that an answer was just a wild guess or the notion had no evidence but was rather just surmised. At best it was the product of a personal thought experiment. Is the phrase used elsewhere? … Read more

Dinky cars (toy cars)

I came across this term while proofreading an unpublished poem by an Irish poet. The context is not important so I’ll just say that it is clear that it means “toy cars”. I Googled the term and see that it refers to a brand-name of die-cast toy car made by the British company Meccano starting … Read more

Who speaks South African English (out of the many languages/ethnicities spoken in SA)?

From the limited experience I have of hearing English spoken by South Africans or even knowing someone is South African (from real life or movies), I find it impossible to really tell when someone is speaking with the accent called South African English (SAE). I’ve done some looking up at wikipedia: South African English, a … Read more

Different uses of ‘kaffir’ by white South Africans and Muslims

Back in apartheid-era South Africa and, in camera, probably even today, the word ‘kaffir’ is used in much the same way ‘nigger’ is used in the western world, ie. as a racist epithet directed at black people. Recently I realised that Muslims use the word to indicate non-muslims or non-believers. Is there any connection between … Read more