South African cereal box

This morning, during breakfast, my eye was caught by an image that looked very familiar, so familiar it was like glowing on that cereal box.

It reminded me of the old days of the single-channel MBC, when TV programmes were broadcast only during certain hours of the day (and, of course, of the night). I can’t remember exactly what the schedule was, but you might have something moving on your screen between say 9 or 10 in the morning until 11 or 12 in the night. The rest of the time, you had that fix coloured picture — for those who had a colour TV, which wasn’t our case for quite some time —, which I believe is called a “mire” in standard French. (I’m afraid I don’t know its English name.)

Therefore I picked the cereal box to see what was written on it, but it was in an undecipherable language which must be Afrikaans. In fact that whole side of the box was covered with “interesting” information, half of it in English, half of it in “African Dutch”. Isn’t it funny how easily you can get yourself dragged into reading something that is just lying there?

Unfortunately, I don’t know Afrikaans. It would have helped me understand what “sig” can be. Have you noticed where that damn Sig is hiding?

(Click the image to enlarge and read.)

Somehow it is fascinating, and a bit frustrating, to look at the side of a box printed in an English-speaking country and understand only half of it. Obviously, what is written in Afrikaans is not translated in English, and vice versa. It’s as if Bokomo, the company manufacturing this product, is saying that children need to know both languages.

Normally I don’t eat that stuff, which is primarily for children, but today I had some. May my brain (and my sig) be boosted.


14 réponses à “South African cereal box

  1. Yes, cereal boxes, if left on the breakfast table, do beg to be read.

    Those images broadcast when no program was on were called test patterns in the US.

  2. If you’re curious about it, Afrikaans is a Google Translate language, so you could type in whatever bits you wanted to and get them translated. (I don’ t feel ambitious enough to type it all in myself.)

  3. Après recherche et sous toute réserve :

    gevoel = feeling
    gehoor = heard
    sig = sight

    Sig, ces céréales vont peut-être vous donner une longue vue à moins que ce ne soit le don de double vue. Attention toutefois à ne pas nous en mettre plein la vue !

  4. Oui, Zerbinette, une longue-vue et un grand chapeau ! (Le poisson lapin devrait aussi manger des carottes.)

    John, I’ve never used Google Translate and I don’t even know where to start. (By googling “google translate” maybe.)

    Yes, Empty, the English word does seem to be test pattern. Some of them apparently date back from the end of the 30s, in black and white of course:

    If by any chance an Afrikaans-speaking person pops in, could he/she drop a comment here to let know what « Die brein word in twee helftes verdeel, wat versikillende akwiteite beheer » means? “Die brein word in twee helftes” must be “the brain works in two halves”, but the rest is just as mysterious as the brain itself. And, of course, to confirm whether “sig” is sighthindsight maybe, given the location shown on the image.

  5. « Die brein word in twee helftes verdeel, wat versikillende akwiteite beheer » >>> Google Translate >>> « The brain is divided into two halves, which control versikillende akwiteite »


    Who the hell is this Versikillende Akwiteite?

  6. Die brein word in twee helftes verdeel, wat versikillende akwiteite beheer

    By analogy with German, this might mean, or have been intended to mean, « the bran was divided into two halves. This [verb] [adjective] {noun] ». tells me verskillen means « fresh kill ». Hope that helps.

  7. More precisely: in a breakfast context, perhaps « bran » was meant. Although I used to get scrambled eggs and calf brains for breakfast when I visited my grandparents in Mississippi, lo ! these 50 years ago.

  8. That Indian head test pattern was very familiar. When our local station went off the air, they would show the test pattern for a while. It would also sometimes be on in the morning if we got up very early for cartoons. My father used it to align our TV antenna.

    If you use the Firefox browser, there is a FoxLingo toolbar with all the translation services, including Google Translate.

    One thing I try with German words is to separate them into pieces, in the hope that I will separate the base word from any prefixes and suffixes. Trying this with Versikillende Akwiteite, I find that « Versi killen de Ak wit eite » breaks down into « Lyric shiver de Ak white eite ». I’m tentatively calling this « autonomic responses are controlled by the white matter » (as opposed to the gray matter used for thinking). Creative, if nothing else.

  9. A. J. P. Crown

    The brain is divided in two halves that control different activities. Did any Germanic language speaker seriously not understand that? I’m sure Grumbly did, he’s just being coy.

  10. A. J. P. Crown

    The wikipedia article on James Barry says he or she performed the first caesarian in Africa, not just South Efrica (he or she was Scots or Irish, lived in England, Canada & Jamaica and died in London).

  11. « Die brein word in twee helftes verdeel, wat versikillende akwiteite beheer » .

    Il y a une erreur de transcription, Sig. Il s’agit de verskillend et non versikillend.

    Dès lors, il ne paraît pas très compliqué de retrouver l’anglais « skill » dans verskillend . Beheer me rappelle l’allemand « beherschen », brein l’anglais « brain », Aktiviteit le français « activité ». twee helftes signifie manifestement « deux moitiés ».

    On peut donc tenter une approximation : le cerveau est divisé en deux moitiés qui travaillent séparément pour contrôler toutes les activités intelligentes…

  12. Actually, children in South Africa do need to know both languages. I’m not entirely sure about the specifics these days, as I’ve been out of school a long time, but Afrikaans and English were both required subjects at school, one done as a first language, and one as a second language. Failure in either one of these subjects was enough to fail you for the year/term. Most people in SA, speak or at least understand more than one language. There are 11 official languages, lots of them african languages, and then english and afrikaans. Not EVERYONE knows both english and afrikaans, but most know enough of their non-home language other to get by. I’m fully bilingual, as my wife is Afrikaans. So where I could read and write it, but not speak it very well at school, I now speak it fluently.

  13. And in answer to a previous question :
    Die brein word in twee helftes gedeel wat versikillende akwiteite beheer
    The brain is divided into two halves which control different activities.

  14. Michael, thanks for the translation. But do you know what “sig” means? (See the back part of the brain on the illustration.)

    children in South Africa do need to know both languages
    I understand it was the case in the past, but is it still so? And only two languages (English and Afrikaans)? Isn’t at least one African* language compulsory too nowadays?

    I went to South Africa for the first time in 2004 and I was very surprised to see that some African people would be able to speak and understand Afrikaans but not English (that was in a rural part of the Cape).

    my wife is Afrikaans
    Isn’t “Afrikaner” (meaning “African” once again?) the word used when speaking of people, or can “Afrikaans” be used for people as well?
    * i.e. an African language other than Afrikaans, which itself means “African” if I’m not mistaken

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