Zim Lingo Glossary
Zimbabwe has at least 16 official languages...
Chewa, Chibarwe, English, Kalanga, Koi-san, Nambya, Ndau, Ndebele, Shangani, Shona, Sign Language, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda and Xhosa.
English, Shona and Ndebele are the most widely spoken languages in the country. Approximately 70% of the population is Shona, using it as their first language, But the official language of Zimbabwe is English.
Afrikaans from neighbouring South Africa also has a large influence on Zimbabwean vernacular and spoken slang, particularly in the coloured (mixed) and white communities.
This further demonstrates how language isn't strictly confined to national borders, as many of these Zimbabwean languages listed are also spoken in neighbouring countries like Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique and of course South Africa.
Check out this short film introducing a few faces from Zimbabwe and other African regions.
African Astronauts Intro - Real Life Africans:
We have compiled a list of the lingo we have enjoyed designing onto our ZimXcite products, so you can dive deeper into their meanings and help strike up some interesting conversations about our small African nation of Zimbabwe.
ZimXcite Apparel Glossary
Are We Together?
(English) - Asking if you understand what has just been said and if we are all in agreement.
Short for braaivleis (Afrikaans), meaning - to grill (meat) over an open fire. AKA Barbecue
(Xhosa), [aysh] Is a colloquial exclamation of surprise, disapproval, exasperation or regret derived from.
Very similar to Eish
(Shona) - Short for "iri bho", meaning - it's good, it's okay or it's fine.
(English) - In a little while; very soon. In Zimbabwe, this could mean soon-ish! Quite a loose reference to the moment in question.
(Afrikaans) - Superb or fantastic, which is applied equally to a person, object or event.
(Shona) - Electricity
(Shona) - Oh my gosh! My goodness. My word!
Make A Plan
(English) - Devise a way of overcoming difficulties. To be very resourceful.
(Shona) - describing a difficult or bad situation.
(Shona) Means motorbike/motorcycle.
(English) - Used to refer to a time very shortly before or very soon after the moment of speaking.
(English) - Refers to traffic lights.
(Shona) - Porridge "in a solid state" made of ground maize or millet. A staple food in Zimbabwe.
(Shona) - Be brave, be courageous, be bold, be daring or resilient.
(Shona) - A millipede which curls up into a pinwheel-shaped coil when disturbed.
(English) - Using solar panels to gather the energy from the sun to produce electric power. A welcome alternative to the nationwide incessant power cuts for load shedding.
(Shona) - You've been left behind, you are being slow etc. Literal translation - you are outside.
(English) - Used sarcastically to answer "no" to a question where the negative answer should have been obvious. Just to add confusion, this phrase is often also the start of a reply to a statement that a person is in agreement with. Eg. It's so hot this Summer! ..."Yah no, it's super hot this season for sure!"
(Shona) - Things are lit! It's fun or it's happening! Literal translation - things are firing!