(In case you're wondering, Xhosa is pronounced with a click like this.)
Many South Africans loved the inside joke, says Lihle Ninie Sasa, 24, a South African college student who lives in Cape Town and is a Xhosa speaker. "We love Trevor. South Africans call him the 'national treasure,' " she says. "Using IsiXhosa [another way to refer to the language] at the Oscars was really cool."
There are some quibbles about his use of African languages in his comedy bits, though.
"He knows that speaking in a language full of clicks and sounds that Westerners generally won't ever hear will evoke a sort of fascination. Some feel like he exploits this," writes Zanie Ferreira, 28, a corporate intelligence analyst from Cape Town, via Twitter direct message. She is a white South African and does not speak Xhosa.
But she thinks the Oscars joke worked: "He knew only a small portion of people will get it. I think that's clever, and the reaction of the crowd was exactly what made it funny."
Ferreira likes that Noah represented her country at the largely Western event.
"Diversity in nationalities [at the Oscars] is long overdue. Add in a foreign language, spoken ... in the global south, and that's pretty special," she says.
Noah's phrase even sparked a trending hashtag on social media in South Africa, #KodwaAbayaziNdiyaXoka. It means "but they don't know that I'm lying," says college student Sasa.
She is a participant in the meme. Her contribution? What she says to boys when they ask for her number.