What is Tsotsitaal

[ 2 ] April 14, 2014 |

Tsotsitaal is a word of two languages, tsotsi – a Sesotho slang word which directly translates to “thug” and/or “robber” and taal – an Afrikaans word meaning “language”. Tsotsitaal is made up of a variety of languages spoken in the surrounding townships of Johannesburg City and Soweto, the South Western Township of South Africa.

Here’s a movie about crime, directed by Gavin Hood, starring Presley Chweneyage titled Tsotsi. This movie pretty much sums up a tsotsi and the language. It will also give you a visual indication of a South African Gauteng township thug.

Another South African crime movie, which will help you understand a ‘high income’ Tsotsi is Ralph Ziman’s  2008 Gangsters Paradise: Jeruselema is inspired by a true story, it stars Rapulana Seiphemo and Robert Hobbs among other South Afrcian A-list actors.

Tsotsitaal is an ever-evolving language created by hoodlums of lowerclass South Afrcian society who constructed the language on several Native African languages as to hide meaning from the common man. Tsotsitaal is predominantly spoken in South Africa’s Gauteng province.

Yet another movie to showcase Tsotsitaal is The Forgotten Kingdom.


Click to learn the language


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