Township talk met bra Lebo

In Watkykjy Interviews deur griffinRek jou bek

Eish bra's, ek spy nou die dag so flaai boekie (Township Talk) met lekker nca slang in soos die bra's hom gooi innie townships. Nooit, skiem ek en ringa die man in charge – Lebo Motshegoa – virre interview oor die Scamto vibe.

Vir die ou's wat verward pluk, Scamto is straattaal soos originally ontstaan het in die strate van Sophiatown. Oorspronklik is dit gebruik sodat die Ore nie die mense kon verstaan nie. Vandaar dan ook die naam Tsotsitaal. Interessant genoeg het die ouens (onder wie die Mapantsulas) ook baie Afrikaans ingegooi.

Woorde soos "askies", "die ding" en "kort-kort" word net so gebruik terwyl ander outjies, soos "frostun" (vir verstaan), "groot man" (vir ouer broer) en "va?" (vir waar) bietjie gemodify word. Ja, daai paar woorde wat ons whiteys ken (soos "five bob" en "amagents" en "yebo" en "madala" is ook daar. Moenie worry nie, jy kan dit nog steeds sê as jy petties ingooi by die Engen.

Later, met die ontstaan van kwaito het die ding nog groter geword as 'n tipe youth lingo van als wat cool is in die township, jy frostun? Die manne noem byvoorbeeld 'n BMW 'n "G-string" oor sy grill soos ene lyk. "1 down" is eenuur, 'n "tiger" is R10 en Black Label is "Tamati" of "Red Bull". 'n "Times Five" is 'n BMW X5, alhoewel meeste van ons eerder iets soos 'n "Starter pack" (Tazz) of 'n "Nanana" (ou Mini) ry.

Punt is, dis 'n moerse interessante boekie wat bra Lebo bymekaargesit het. Hy het ook al 'n spul pryse gewen, van dit vir sy vorige Scamto dictionary. CHopper het hom 'n paar dinge loop vra.

CHopper: Baie woorde in die dictionary kom uit Afrikaans. Why do you think black people in the old SA used it, if it was the language of the opressor?

Lebo: It was also developed as a lingo to avoid arrest and detection from police for various crimes. TsoTsi also used the lingo so that they could discuss amongst themselves about how to pursue their acts or avoid detection by police.

CHopper: You didn't mark all the Afrikaans-influenced terms as "derived from Afrikaans" e.g. "domkop", "festere", "fokof", "frostun" etc. Any specific reasons?

Lebo: No special reason really.

CHopper: Are some of the terms ethno-centric e.g. will I get bliksemed if I call a black man a darkie?

Lebo: I would advise you to use certain words on your chomis. Some people, like myself have no problem being called a darkie, however a Nigerian will have a problem being call a Kwere-Kwere (which means foreigner).

CHopper: The dictionary is organised by the Tsotsi-taal terms, rather than its English equivalent. This means you can't quickly look up a word in English. What's the thinking here?

Lebo: It was important not to apologies for the lingo. Even though the dictionary was also compiled for di N’gamla (English folks) to frostun Township Lingo, I still have to put Kasi first and reflect how it is pronounced. Therefore look up the kasi word for the English translation.

In the same breath, there are some words in Township lingo that are not translatable into English or Afrikaans, simply because it is a black thing. For example check out “after tears” (a farewell party held after funerals for the deceased).

CHopper: Are most of the words from any one specific language e.g. Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, etc?

Lebo: Not particularly, it is influences of all Mzansi languages (including Afrikaans too boss). It is a cross-cultural language; therefore it builds relations, fusing Sesetho, Setswana, English, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Zulu, into ONE.

CHopper: Did you leave out specific words of an offensive nature i.e. racist, sexist or homophobic terms?

Lebo: No! Not this time. With the first one, Scamto Dictionary, I was lenient so that the language would be accepted by marketers and put use it as mainstream communication tool between them and black consumers. The booklet was distributed within the South African Advertising industry and indeed got rave reviews, with some copywriters even requesting for their own copies. In 2003 and 2004 it bagged Loerie awards.

So the Township Talk Dictionary is truly township life captured in a dictionary. It is raw. So for all the lanies who always wanted to know what their fellow darkies are laughing about, well geleza this dictionary.

CHopper: Would you say the diction differs quite a lot between regions i.e. Soweto and Gugs?

Lebo: Not this one. I spent two years wondering Mzansi townships capturing words which I saw as generic. However lingo does differ in other townships, like for example in P’tori “mense” means a guy, but in here in Msawawa (Jozi) a guy is referred to as a “Authi”. Therefore the lingo has different dialects, which serve as identifiers of the area one is from.

So how did I strike a balance? Well, I compiled generic words, words that used in Mzansi music like Kwaito and TV series like Gazlam and radio stations like Metro FM.

CHopper: It seems that possible persecution by the police had an influence in developing Tsotsi-taal in the beginning. What were some of the words for describing amaphoyisa?

Lebo: Gatas, vader, metsi and fieke.

CHopper: You state that township talk is the language of the urban black communities at the moment. I've noticed some of the words getting used by urban whiteys as well. Do you see a general urban lingo developing with words from a couple of different sub-cultures?

Lebo: In your first email you said you noticed that there are a lot of Afrikaans words in township lingo. In the same breath I think through this dictionary we will see just how similar white and black South Africans are. For example, the word “cherry” used to be used only by Afrikaans folks.

Also new words, slang terms, shorthand and codes are passed down, reinvented and adopted from generation to generation. Each generation strives to be more innovative and in touch that its predecessors, and the language they use is central to demonstrating this difference. A 21st century word like wigger ( a white n*gger) never existed before.

CHopper: Do you talk like this yourself?
Lebo: Foshizi my nizzy.

CHopper: I can see laaities rapping like this, but surely the old ones (or "krimpies" in Afrikaans) do not condone it?
Lebo: They will always do so because they fear that we will lose our culture.

CHopper: Have you checked out watkykjy's Afrikaans slang section? Wat skiem jy?

Lebo: It is nca!

CHopper: Maak jy uit van Afrikaanse slang? By the way, is there a word for Afrikaans people in township talk – apart from amaBhunu?

Lebo:

  • White person = N’gamla
  • Coloured person = Dushi
  • Indian = Janandra
  • Black = darkie

CHopper: Tune us what's up with Sowetorocks.COM?

Lebo: Sowetorocks.com is an online, lifestyle magazine that focuses on activities in and around Soweto. The magazine tackles shebeens, taxi ranks, restaurants, vendors, language, insight, businesses, music, day life, nightlife and of course cutting edge news in and around Soweto. The magazine is a product of my company, Foshizi Productions – a black consumer insight agency.

CHopper: Any last words?
Lebo: Yeah. Hook up more copies of the book. Moja!

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