A History and Dictionary of Gay Language in South Africa

Ken Cage in collaboration with Moyra Evans


ISBN:  1-919931-49-X            

210 x 148 mm,116 pages


Price:  R135                           

July 2003 

Jacana Media                        

Gay Culture



Varda that Beulah! What a lunch! Such a picnic basket! Vast Mitzi. I’d love to Sally her, but she looks so Dora. She’s a chicken, and probably Rita to boot, or maybe even Priscilla, and I don’t need Jennifer Justice in my life right now. - And who needs a visit from Auntie Aida? I suppose I’ll have to go home and Tilly ­ the lot of an Olga pixie!”


The Lavender Languages of gay communities around the world are an accepted phenomenon in linguistic studies, but the emphasis in research to date has been on American GaySpeak and British Polari, with little, if any, research being conducted into other gay ‘languages’ from other cultures, which exist around the world.


This book is a fascinating analysis and historical overview of the birth and evolution of the gay language, ‘Gayle’, in South Africa. It highlights the linguistic apartheid from 1948 - 1994, which gave rise to two distinct gay 'languages' - one amongst Indo-European speakers (Gayle), and the other amongst Niger-Congo Kordofanian Bantu speakers (Isingqumo).


The focus of this book is on the English/Afrikaans register and examines the origins and features of the anti-language, including lexical items, feminisation, heterophobia, homophobia and reginisation in what was originally referred to as “Moffietaal”, but has subsequently evolved into “Gayle”. This book includes not only a dictionary of the words used in Gayle, but also an historical record of the language, its development, its form and its various functions, none of which has been documented before and little of which has previously been made public.



Ken Cage currently works at Massey University in New Zealand and lives in Auckland. He completed an MA degree in Applied Linguistics at the Rand Afrikaans University, where he did his dissertation on the form and function of gay men's speech patterns in South Africa.

Cage was born in Johannesburg and spent his formative years in Port Elizabeth, where he attended Grey High School. After completing his schooling he studied at the University of the Witwatersrand, where he qualified as a teacher and completed a degree in African Languages. He lectured both Zulu and Southern Sotho at the Johannesburg College of Education, and did an Honours degree in African Languages and Linguistics before leaving the college to start his own Training Consultancy with his partner Deon.


Orders to:  Jacana Media



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