South Africans and Now?

Last Update: April 11, 2018

Us South Africans have a rather strange and complicated relationship with the concept of "now".

If you are anywhere else in the world now means now. In South Africa this is a completely different story. I can literally picture in my mind all the South Africans reading this post nodding in understanding and all the non-South Africans shaking their heads in puzzlement thinking well what on earth is this woman talking about? Now means now... duh?

I recently had a conversation with someone from the UK and she asked me when she can expect my email and I replied "just now". Which lead to a series of misunderstandings...

So here it goes. There is not just one version of now for us. There are in fact 4 different versions and it goes like this:

Now - this is really the most vague version of now. It should be simple but it really is not. In fact I never say now because it doesn't explain a thing. Yes it should but it just doesn't.

Right now - this is probably what you all (as in non-South Africans) consider to be now. This is immediately as in drop everything and do it... well now. Are you confused yet? Well you should be and it gets worse.

Now now - this means soon. It is not right now, or now... but soon.. well soon-ish. It is certainly NOT now.

Just now - this means later. It is not now, right now or now now... this could be in the next 20 minutes or maybe even tomorrow. This is the standard response my husband gives when I ask him when he is going to do the dishes and his response is "just now". This means he will do it... one day but I can't pin him down to exactly when or get him to really commit.

If you are in South Africa and I ask you if you understand you will probably answer with another strange saying - ja nee. (yes no).

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JillAlexaVA Premium
Hi Lynne, Had a good laugh. It is so true. We are really a funny bunch.
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LynneHuy Premium
Ja nee :)
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MojalefaR Premium
On point! Ha, ha, ha...!
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LynneHuy Premium
Yeah never say just now to a foreigner Mojalefa - its just a mess from then on LOL
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Maine3623 Premium
Lol, you are right
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Maine3623 Premium
I will be very careful not to coach questions to you that require an answer that might need "now". :)

Mike
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LynneHuy Premium
Get a time commitment lol.
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Nick-at-WA Premium
I can somehow relate...lol
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