I’m in the process of doing final edits on my upcoming Kilimanjaro book (which is one reason why the posting frequency here on Joburg Expat might have recently slowed down – visit my Author Website for more book news), and I came across a passage where I described our training hike in Groenkloof Nature Reserve near Pretoria. Mike, one of my co-hikers, had urged us all to carry twelve kilograms of bricks in our backpacks, which had prompted me to write the following:
By the way, I’m not sure what’s harder: carrying twelve kilograms worth of bricks, or pronouncing “Ghghghghgroenkloof.”
This deserves a bit of explanation, so I thought it would make a fun blog post for future (and current) expats in South Africa.
I get that they have their language and are entitled to all the throat-clearing they can muster, but where I get irritated is when every G out there gets appropriated as if it were their own. As in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana. Or the radio advertisement I used to hear on Radio Jacaranda, where an announcer was praising the virtues of a Volkswaghghghgen. I felt like driving straight to that studio, pulling the guy out of his chair by his lapels, and growling: “This is our G, and it is a proper one, do not ever mess with it again!”
Don’t even get me started on Xhosa, another one of South Africa’s eleven official languages. While a guttural sound is at least in the realm of what’s possible with the average human vocal chords, I am not so sure if tongue-clicking is entirely of this world. You think you can click with your tongue when you first hear it. But then you realize that a) you cannot produce at least five different sounding clicks, and b) you cannot possibly click with your tongue and speak at the same time. It’s either one or the other. I’m sure when I try to pronounce anything in Xhosa, I sound like a hopeless stutterer.
|Do you see what I see?|
|Yep, giraffes! That’s what I love about life in Joburg. You could bump into a giraffe anytime.|
|A good look at the Voortrekker Monument. See here for more pictures and the story.|
|View of Pretoria from Groenkloof|
|This was when Noisette and I had gone off in the wrong direction. Groenkloof is definitely
big enough to get lost in, even though it’s practically in the city.