The meaning of taxi language

“Sho’t right”, “sho’t left”, “after robot”, “bridge”, “circle” and “dankie” are some of the phrases you’ll hear if you make use of taxis to get around Johannesburg. Although it might sound like a confusing mass of words at first, once you grasp the basics, it’s not that difficult to follow taxi lingo.

When making use of the efficient taxi service in the City of Gold, it’s imperative that you familiarise yourself with taxi language or you’ll end up jumping off at the wrong stop or ending up far from your intended destination!

More than 14-million South Africans make use of taxis on a daily basis. Many commuters in Johannesburg use taxis. They provide transport for workers, students, elders and school children of all ages.

In recent years taxi drivers have had to find a way to communicate with consumers as “around the corner” or “Michael Street” just was not working. What better way than to create a language that would be universally understood.

*Tshepho, a taxi driver who uses the Louis Botha/Alexander route says it’s important that commuters know what language to use in a taxi. “Sometimes you get people who just say thank you and we don’t stop because we don’t know what that means. He continues, “If someone says sho’t left then I know I am making a stop at the next left.”

The most commonly used phrases include:  “four four mas’hlalisane” (four people per seat), “sho’t right” (next stop on the right}, “circle” (stop at the next circle), “after robot” (at next robot), “bridge” (at the bridge) and “Jozi” (to town).

So whether you’re in Alberton or Rosebank, Dunkeld or Sandton, Marlboro or Soweto, taxi lingo is one language you need to familiarise yourself with, especially if you want to go places in this golden concrete jungle.

And let’s not forget the finger signals when waiting for a taxi: Single finger raised – to town; finger pointing down – local; fingers spread – to Wanderers taxi rank from either Cresta, Auckland Park or Braamfontein.