Well, sometimes it does, as in: the knife is sharp, or the woman has a sharp tongue (why is it always a woman? 🤔), the razor is still good for one more shave, etc. But overall, informal South African English saw sharp evolving into an expression of approval or agreement.
“How’s the bunny chow (a favourite curry dish)? Not too hot?”
“Nay, it’s sharp.” Meaning it’s good (approval), not that the curry with or without added chili, is stripping the very skin off your tongue.
In fact, we love this word so much that we tend to double up and express our approval as sharp-sharp. And to make pronunciation a bit easier, we lose the silent “r” around which we are unable to get our African tongues, and indicate our agreement with shap-shap.
These exclamations, of course, go hand in hand with familiar gestures like a thumbs-up signal – you know, as in the emoji 👍 So, when we like what we see, feel, hear, taste or smell, be it a panoramic view, a cute baby, a handsome boy/girl (whichever is your choice), a good wine, lekker (good) food – you indicate your agreement with a thumbs-up signal.
One thumb up and a single sharp means good.
Two thumbs up and sharp doubled up into sharp-sharp means excellent.
Pumping those two thumbs up and down, accompanied by shap-shap and a broad smile and/or a little jiggly dance means that you and I have hit the jackpot, reached the ultimate agreement. We are a passionate people and we show our feelings with enthusiasm.
It is also said that sharp and variations thereof are used in greetings upon meeting or parting. Yeeeees, maybe in some quarters, but it’s not like “Hi” and “Goodbye”. It’s more like:
“Hallooo! How are you?”
“Shap-shap.” I’m good. This is a nice surprise. I’m happy to see you. Approval.
“Hey my man! Long time no see. Good to see you!”
“Shap-shap.” I also feel that way. Agreement.
“I’ll come see you again tomorrow, Mama.”
“Shap-shap.” I’d like you to come. Approval.
Thank you for setting this challenge Linda, and all those who read this and learned about our shap-shap culture.
Linda said: Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “sharp.” Use it in any or all of its definitions. Have fun!
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To see the rules for this weekly challenge and all the entries for Saturday 8 August 2020, visit Linda G Hill.
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