Namlish (a portmanteau of the words Namibian and English) is a form of English spoken in Namibia.[1] The term was first recorded in 1991.[2]

English is the country's official language since independence in 1990. Because it is the second or third language for the majority of the Namibians, local usage can vary significantly from usage elsewhere in the English-speaking world. Namibian English, or Namlish, shares many similarities with South African English, having been influenced both by Afrikaans and indigenous African languages.

Examples of Namlish


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Namlish English Notes
Baas Afrikaans: Boss submissive appellation towards a male employer.
Babelas as verb and noun Afrikaans: (having a) hangover
Bakkie Pick-up truck
Biltong Dried meat; jerky
Braai Afrikaans: A barbecue or social grilling event
Cucca Shop A bar The name was derived from a beer once sold in Angola[3]
Eish Oh my goodness expression of surprise, shock, disdain, etc.
Mêmê Mother term of respect towards older women
Oom Afrikaans: uncle term of respect towards older men
Robot Traffic lights
Shebeen Bar or club
Tekkies Sneakers


Namlish English Notes
hoezit? What's up? A common greeting.
Is it? Really?
Are we together? Is it clear? Do you understand me? This expression is used a lot in meetings and workshops. The first expression is also used in other varieties of English such as British English.
I will do that now now. I will do it in a minute. Doubling words emphasises their literal meaning.
... and what what. ... et cetera (probably from the idiom "... and whatnot") Used a lot in meetings and workshops and what what.
It's !na. It's ok!/It's great. It has a tongue-click sound common in native languages.
How is the morning? How are you? Comes from Oshiwambo, Walalepo?
The time is going. We're running out of time.
So.. Otherwise? Apart from the obvious, how are you? Used as a greeting/to fill a gap in a conversation.
somehow (as an adjective) so-so

Literal translations

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Namlish comes from literal translations, mostly from Oshiwambo, Kavango languages and Afrikaans, but occasionally from Damara, Herero or other tribal languages. Namlish is generally spoken by the Oshiwambo and Kavango speaking people. In the Oshiwambo language, the "l" and "r" are exchanged. In Kavango, they are not exchanged.

Some observations


As Namlish is its own dialect of English, it has its own pronunciation of English words. For instance, clothes is almost always pronounced with two syllables. Even Hifikepunye Pohamba (Namibia's former president) pronounces it this way.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Namlish
  2. ^ Lambert, James. 2018. A multitude of 'lishes': The nomenclature of hybridity. English World-wide, 39(1): 28. DOI: 10.1075/eww.38.3.04lam
  3. ^ "Namibia Official Language".
  4. ^ Amupadhi, Tangeni (12 August 2002). "Pohamba's Namlish Offers Light Relief". The Namibian.