English spoken by South Africans

Faerie   Tuesday, May 25, 2004, 09:44 GMT
I'm doing an English project for university on how the international community views the way South Africans speak English. I've come up with some interesting things though the most common is how long and drawn out our speech is, do we really slur our words together in a long drawn out fashion? Some of the terms we use also seem to stick out to other people eg. Just now, ja well no fine.
Any comments?
Paul   Tuesday, May 25, 2004, 13:51 GMT
Goodness Gracious
From a Canadian Standpoint, your speech is not slurred and it is not that long and drawn out.
Listen to a Male Texan, if you want to hear a real drawl.
British Accented English as spoken in Britian and India has more changes in pitch, and some british accents are more clipped making the speech faster but also harder to understand. South African is nicely in the middle in terms of tone and speed.
It would be good compromise between American English and British Accented English, clearly understandable clearly by both sides.
Canadian English is closer to American English.
An Austrailian English is in the middle but still more closer to British English.
Be happy.
Regards, Paul V.
P.S. We have a big South African community in Canada.
Ben   Tuesday, May 25, 2004, 16:19 GMT

I must say that as an American I find South Africans often quite hard to understand. This is apparenly owing to the fact that they often turn unaccented syllables into schwas.

A Canadian, incidentally, would probably understand a South African better than an American, since Canadian speech tends to be more tonal and less over-deliberate than American speech (though generally better pronounced).

Faerie, are you Dutch, British or Black South African?
Lost   Tuesday, May 25, 2004, 23:54 GMT
I was wondering, my neighbor is from South Africa, and she speaks with very hard R's, however, her parents speak with a softer R (I guess it's called non-rhotic). Is it common for this to happen or is it maybe her time spent in the US that caused a change in her speech?
AMDarkAmbience   Wednesday, May 26, 2004, 00:55 GMT
My friend Rachel from Johannesburg was increasingly difficult to understand, however after a couple days, I grew accustomed to the way she spoke. She speaks with a drawn out British accent that is used specifically when she doesn't speak Afrikaans. Sometimes she accidently confuses English words with Afrikaaner words and changes her sentences around, but other times she is very well off. South African English is hardly any different than common British English, even with the distance, South Africa has maintained it's British tie with their tongues. To get back on subject though, the accent is very drawn out and elongated in comparison to let's say the Australian and British accents. It's similar to the New Zealander English accent, but it has more of a British twang in addition.
Jim   Wednesday, May 26, 2004, 01:20 GMT
As an Aussie I think that South African English is pretty easy to understand. If you were to rank each of the dialects of English in the World according to how close they are to Australian English, South African would come second with first place going to New Zealand English obviously. Once I used the word "durry" to a South African friend of mine thinking that it was Aussie slang and that he wouldn't understand but, to my surprise, he knew exactly what I meant.
Faerie   Wednesday, May 26, 2004, 09:40 GMT
I'm actually an English South African, my parents are both British and grew up in England and Scotland, whereas I was born in Cape Town and grew up here. With regards to your neighbour's hard R's, Lost, it all really depends on where your neighbour grew up and what her first language is. Afrikaans and African languages have a lot of heavily rolled R's, I find I do it when I've been speaking alot of Afrikaans and then switch back to English. Do people in the US speak with hard R's? As for the Afrikaans girl speaking with a British accent when speaking English- what era did she grow up in? Did she learn English in the apartheid era?

My friend from Yorkshire said I sounded posh because my accent was a mix between south england and Aus- so do Aussies sound posh too?

I would like to have your permission to use this forum in my English project, all your comments have been so helpful and insightful.

Ps. What does "durry" mean?
Aussie bleeder   Wednesday, May 26, 2004, 11:28 GMT
South African English sounds almost Germanic-like with its heavy Dutch influence, nothing like an Australian accent.

An Australian accent is closer to a Southern England accent than a New Zealand one. Kiwis "schwa out" many more of their syllables.
Aussie bleeder   Wednesday, May 26, 2004, 11:29 GMT
A durry is a cigarette
Ben   Wednesday, May 26, 2004, 14:14 GMT
A English South African dialect, at least to my (American) ears, sound very similar to NZ/Australian accents. S. African English has the New Zealand tendency to tighten there e's so that they sound more like i's (i.e. "better" sounds like "bitter"), also heard in rural parts of Aust. (the "standard" accent in that country only sort of hints at this pronunciation).
Ryan   Wednesday, May 26, 2004, 14:52 GMT
People who spoke Afrikaans as their first language have a completely different accent than those who grew up in Anglo communities, so it's difficult to generalize a typical S. African accent. I take it we are referring to those who grew up in Anglo communities. To me, they sound like a mix between Australians and London English.
Faerie   Wednesday, May 26, 2004, 17:21 GMT
Hey I'm talking all SA accents, but the one that I was talking about above was the Anglo accent, that's what mine is. It would be interesting to know which one people are talking about when they say SA accent sounds nice or something like that. I know it's hard to tell the difference and name them especially if you don't know the country well.

Ryan, where are you from?
Ben   Wednesday, May 26, 2004, 18:21 GMT
Yeah, but all South Africans would still use the same model for English, wouldn't they? I remember seeing a documentary, and hearing Dutch South Africans speak with something that sounded like an Anglo SA accent overlaid with some foreign features.
Ryan   Thursday, May 27, 2004, 02:14 GMT
Faerie, I'm American.

I've watched rugby matches on TV and you can tell when the South African referees talk whether they are Anglo or Afrikaans speakers. The Anglo ones sound more like Australians while the ones who are native Afrikaans speakers have a "Dutch" sound to them almost.

The various ethinc groups in SA have different accents as well, I've heard (Africans, Coloureds, Asians).
Faerie   Thursday, May 27, 2004, 12:46 GMT
It's not just the different ethnic groups it's the region as well that makes the accents unique. What about South Africanisms? Does anyone know the most obvious ones? Or has there been times when a South African has said something and you just thought: What the...?