With only three tenses, Afrikaans is not only one of the easiest languages to learn, but it’s full of hilarious phrases that should exist in English. By translating Afrikaans to English, these Afrikaans idioms will definitely make you giggle.
Afrikaans is one of the official languages of South Africa and is one of the world’s youngest languages with roughly 8 million speakers. Due to its germanic origins, it’s relatively easy for English speakers to learn.
Sadly, there isn’t nearly enough learning material out there on the internet compared with other languages such as French, Italian, and Spanish. Without these resources, it makes it difficult for foreigners like me to pick up the language. In the interests of bringing more awareness to this baie lekker language, I thought I’d call upon my South African partner and friends to help me collate a list of common hilarious expressions that will spark your interest in learning Afrikaans. I’ve also create a free downloadable guide with a bunch of useful Afrikaans phrases for travellers to use.
This list is full of direct Afrikaans to English translations of everyday Afrikaans idioms. So you’ll certainly hear and use them often. Enjoy!
Let’s get started!
1. Now now
Translation: Nou nou
Meaning: In a little while, in a bit
2. Hang onto a branch
Translation: Hang aan ń tak
Meaning: Hold on a sec(ond)
3. The jackal is marrying the wolf’s wife
Translation: Jakkals trou met wolf se vrou
Meaning: Used when it’s raining and the sun shines at the same time
4. Walk in two lines
Translation: Twee rye spore loop
Meaning: To be drunk
5. Like a monkey on a stick
Translation: Nes ń aap op ń stokkie
Meaning: To look perplexed
6. Have a monkey up your sleeve
Translation: ń Aap in die mou hê
Meaning: To hide mischievous plans
7. Be hit by a windmill
Translation: ń Klap van die windmeul weg hê
Meaning: To not be in your right mind
8. All jokes on a stick
Translation: Alle grappies op ń stokkie
Meaning: All joking aside
9. Talk a dog out of a bush
10. Don’t shake the chicken
Translation: Moenie die hoender ruk nie
Meaning: Don’t overdo it
11. Scratch a lion’s ball with a short stick
Translation: Jy krap met ń kort stokkie aan ń groot leeu se bal
Meaning: Being arrogant or to push one’s luck
12. Let the baboon out of the sleeve
Translation: Die aap uit die mou laat
Meaning: Let the cat out of the bag, spill the beans
13. The mountains gave birth to a mouse
Translation: Die berge het ń muis gebaar
Meaning: To put in a lot of effort and have nothing to show for it
14. Search for a sausage in a dog stable
Translation: Wors in die hondestal soek
Meaning: To look for something you can’t find
15. Rub honey around someone’s mouth
16. Chase away fright with a bladder of peas
Translation: Jy kan hom met ń blaas ertjies die skrik op die lyf jag
Meaning: A person who is scared or scares easily
17. Such a mouth should get jam
Meaning: Used as an interjection for doing something with no particular reason, just because
19. Loose head
Meaning: Used to explain forgetful or odd behaviour
20. Kitten of the track
21. Fetch a baboon from behind the hill
Translation: Die bobbejaan agter die bult te gaan haal
Meaning: To think or talk about problems that haven’t happened yet and thus possibly making them happen.
22. Talking a hole in someone’s head
23. It’s a fact like a cow
Translation: Dis ń feit soos ń koei
Meaning: A fact you can’t argue with.
24. Stick a spoon in the roof
Translation: Lepel in die dak steek
Meaning: Euphemism for someone dying
Translation: Sy kerk is uit
Meaning: It’s all over for him
Heading to South Africa, brush up on your Afrikaans with my free travel phrase guide.
Interested in learning a language? Head over to my language learning resource page.
Over to you!
Which one of these Afrikaans idioms is your favourite? Do you know any funny Afrikaans to English translations?
Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.
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