How do you translate that?

South Africans are very colourful people. This element of their personalities is very much showcased in their song lyrics. The Afrikaans language, in particular, is incredibly expressive and descriptive and really can paint a picture with just a sentence or two.

This past week one of my long-time friends, Ricus Nel, released a music video (he is a South African singer) and it made me realised once more that South Africans are a very unique type of person. We love laughing and poking good-natured fun at each other. We also love a good slapstick song where your feet just itch to tap along to the beat and your tongue can’t help but to lick the lyrics into the air.

Rebecca is a very old song that is about a guy and his supposedly ugly girlfriend.   My understanding is that she was not always a very nice person and the guy describes her appearances in great detail. He is reminiscing over their relationship since cheated on her and they went their separate ways.  But despite her unfortunate looks and his cheating, love prevails and they end up together.

I tried to translate this to my English-speaking hubby and one of our friends last night, but I’m suspicious of the fact that they were left utterly confused by us South Africans’ weird taste in song lyrics (and the fact that I found it so funny and could not stop laughing long enough to translate it properly!).

 


Here goes:

 

Rebecca was my meisie met die sparkling eyes

Rebecca was my girlfriend with the sparkling eyes

Rebecca was my cherrie en nie altyd nice

Rebecca was my bird and she was not always nice

Rebecca was mos lekker vet en rond

Rebecca was very chubby and round

Oh I loved Rebecca when the sun goes down

 

Sy’t n lyfie soos reier en n nekkie soos n pou

She has a body like a heron and a neck like peacock

‘n Groot paar pote soos n wilde makou

A huge pair of feet like a wild muscovy

Litterige tone soos n veld volstruis

Knobbly toes like a bush ostrich

Ongesonde lippe soos n skeerbekmuis

Unhealthy chapped lips like a shrew

 

Ek vra Rebecca van Jeppestown

I’m asking Rebecca that is from Jeppestown

Ek sal met jou trou dan settle ons down

I’ll marry you then we can settle down

Ek kry Rebecca by n Lieberstein jol

I met Rebecca at a Lieberstein rave

Vertel haar van my liefde en my hart so vol

I told her how much I love her and she is always in my heart

 

Ag Rebecca Terblanche gee my nog n kans

Oh Rebecca Terblance please give me another chance

Sy sê toe saggies: ‘Vat maar nog n dans’

She tells me quietly ‘let’s go for another dance’

My knieë het gebewe en my hart slaan oor

My knees are wobbling and my heart skips a beat

Daar’s ‘n gaatjie in my tjoepie en my pomp het verloor

There’s a hole in my tube and my pump has gotten lost

 

Sy’t n lyfie soos reier en n nekkie soos n pou

She has a body like a heron and a neck like peacock

‘n Groot paar pote soos n wilde makou

A huge pair of feet like a wild muscovy

Litterige tone soos n veld volstruis

Knobbly toes like a bush ostrich

Ongesonde lippe soos n skeerbekmuis

Unhealthy chapped lips like a shrew

 

Ek sê Rebecca van Jeppestown

I’m telling Rebecca of Jeppestown

Los my uit ek wil huis toe gaan

Leave me alone, I want to go home

Ek skei Rebecca by Papendorp

I divorce Rebecca at Papendorp

Vertel haar van Johanna en haar bloedrooi Ford

I tell her about Joanna and her scarlett Ford

 

Rebecca is my meisie met die sparkling eyes

Rebecca is my girlfriend with the sparkling eyes

Rebecca is my cherrie en sy’s altyd nice

Rebecca is my bird and she is always nice

Rebecca is mos lekker vet en rond

Rebecca is very chubby and round

Rebecca se gesig is ook so lekker bont

Rebecca’s face is also very spotty

 

Sy’t n lyfie soos reier en n nekkie soos n pou

She has a body like a heron and a neck like peacock

‘n Groot paar pote soos n wilde makou

A huge pair of feet like a wild muscovy

Litterige tone soos n veld volstruis

Knobbly toes like a bush ostrich

Ongesonde lippe soos n skeerbekmuis

Unhealthy chapped lips like a shrew

 

Ek sê Rebecca van Jeppestown

I tell Rebecca that is from Jeppestown

Ek sal met jou trou dan settle ons down

I’ll marry you then we can settle down

Ek kry Rebecca by n Lieberstein jol

I meet Rebecca at a Lieberstein rave

Vertel haar van my liefde en my hart so vol

I tell her how much I love her and she is always in my heart

 


Happy Valentine’s day everyone!

 

Listen to Rebecca on YouTube

 

Feature image:

Photo by How-Soon Ngu on Unsplash

 

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