Playing Football with the English Language: “Robot”


SA Loguers Ben and Trekker – respectively, an American in SA, and a South African in the US – are kicking the English language around.

The robot is red.
The robot is yellow.
The robot is green.
Turn right at the robot.

Abstract metaphysical sci-fi poetry? No – phrases of normal South African English, heard every day! “Robot”, down here, refers to what everyone else in the English-speaking world calls a “stoplight” or “traffic light”.

Not following? Here are some visual aids to help you get the hang of it. Print the photos out, make flashcards, and speak each card’s appropriate phrase as quickly as you can. We’ve made the robot difficult to spot, so that you have to try extra-hard!

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The Robot is Green
The Robot is Green

On a slightly less wacky note – if you think about it, the term “robot” in the context of stoplights makes sense: stoplights are mechanized contraptions that do a job which people used to do. They’re robots!

Over to you, Trekker!