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Afrikaans Language

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Afrikaans Language

Pronunciation [ɐfriˈkɑːns]
Native to South Africa, Namibia
Native speakers 7.1 million  (2011 census)Template:Infobox language/ref
Total: 15–23 million[n 1]
Language family
Writing system Latin (Afrikaans alphabet)
Afrikaans Braille
Official status
Official language in  South Africa
Recognised minority language in


Regulated by Die Taalkommissie
Language codes
ISO 639-1 af
ISO 639-2 afr
ISO 639-3 afr
Linguist List Template:Infobox language/linguistlist
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Linguasphere 52-ACB-ba
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Afrikaans /æfrɪˈkɑːns/[3] is a West Germanic language, spoken natively in South Africa, Namibia and to a lesser extent in Botswana and Zimbabwe. It is an offshoot of several Dutch dialects[4] spoken by the mainly Dutch settlers of what is now South Africa, where it gradually began to develop independently in the course of the 18th century. Hence, historically, it is a daughter language of Dutch, and was previously referred to as "Cape Dutch" (a term also used to refer collectively to the early Cape settlers) or "kitchen Dutch" (a derogatory term used to refer to Afrikaans in its earlier days).[n 2]

Although Afrikaans adopted words from languages such as Malay, Portuguese, the Bantu languages, and the Khoisan languages etc., an estimated 90 to 95 percent of Afrikaans vocabulary is ultimately of Dutch origin.[n 3] Therefore, differences with Dutch often lie in a more regular morphology, grammar, and spelling of Afrikaans.[n 4] There is a large degree of mutual intelligibility between the two languages—especially in written form.[n 5]

With about 7 million native speakers in South Africa, or 13.5 percent of the population, it is the third most spoken mother tongue in the country.[5] It has the widest geographical and racial distribution of all the official languages of South Africa, and is widely spoken and understood as a second or third language.[n 6] It is the majority language of the western half of South Africa — the provinces of the Northern Cape and Western Cape — and the first language of over 70% of Coloured South Africans (3.4 million people) and about 60% of White South Africans (2.7 million). About 600,000 black South Africans speak it as their first language.[6] Large numbers of Bantu-speaking and English-speaking South Africans also speak it as their second language.

In neighbouring Namibia, Afrikaans is widely spoken as a second language and used as lingua franca,[n 7] while as a native language it is spoken in 11 percent of households, mainly concentrated in the capital Windhoek and the southern regions of Hardap and Karas.[n 8]

Estimates of the total number of Afrikaans-speakers range between 15 and 23 million.[n 1]


The Afrikaans language gradually began diverging from the Northwestern European Dutch dialects in the course of the 18th century.[7][8] and developed in South Africa. As early as the mid-18th century and as recently as the mid-20th century, Afrikaans was known in standard Dutch as a "kitchen language" (kombuistaal), lacking the prestige accorded, for example even by the educational system in Africa, to languages spoken outside Africa; other early epithets setting apart Kaaps Hollands ("Cape Dutch", i.e. Afrikaans) as putatively beneath official Dutch standards included geradbraakt/gebroke/onbeskaafd Hollands ("mutilated/broken/uncivilised Dutch"), as well as verkeerd Nederlands ("incorrect Dutch").[9][10] An estimated 90 to 95% of Afrikaans vocabulary is ultimately of Dutch origin,[11][12][13] and there are few lexical differences between the two languages;[14] however, Afrikaans has a considerably more regular morphology,[15] grammar, and spelling.[16] There is a degree of mutual intelligibility between the two languages,[15][17][18] particularly in written form.[16][19][20]

Afrikaans acquired some lexical and syntactical borrowings from other languages such as Malay, Khoisan languages, Portuguese,[21] and of the Bantu languages,[22] and to a lesser extent, French. Afrikaans has also been significantly influenced by South African English.[23] Nevertheless, Dutch-speakers are confronted with fewer non-cognates when listening to Afrikaans than the other way round.[20] Mutual intelligibility thus tends to be asymmetrical, as it is easier for Dutch-speakers to understand Afrikaans than for Afrikaans-speakers to understand Dutch.[20] In general, research suggests that mutual intelligibility between Dutch and Afrikaans is better than between Dutch and Frisian[24] or between Danish and Swedish.[20] The South African poet writer Breyten Breytenbach, attempting to visualize the language distance to anglophones once remarked that the differences between (Standard) Dutch and Afrikaans are comparable to those between the Received Pronunciation and Southern American English.[25]

Afrikaans was considered a Dutch dialect in South Africa up until the early 20th century when it became recognised as a distinct language under South-African law, alongside Standard Dutch; which it eventually replaced as an official language.[26] A relative majority of the first settlers whose descendants today are the Afrikaners were from the United Provinces (now Netherlands and Belgium), though there were also many from Germany, a considerable number from France, and some from Madeira, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, and various other countries.

The workers and slaves who contributed to the development of Afrikaans were Asians (especially Malays), Malagasys, as well as the Khoi, Bushmen and Bantu peoples who also lived in the area. African creole people in the early 18th century — documented on the cases of Hendrik Bibault and patriarch Oude Ram — were the first to call themselves Afrikaner (Africans). Only much later in the second half of the 19th century did the Boers adopt this attribution, too.[27] The Khoi and mixed-race groups became collectively referred to as Coloureds.[28]


Following early dialectical studies of Afrikaans, it was theorised that three main historical dialects probably existed after the Great Trek in the 1830s. These dialects are defined as the Northern Cape, Western Cape and Eastern Cape dialects. Remnants of these dialects still remain in present-day Afrikaans although the standardising effect of Standard Afrikaans has contributed to a great levelling of differences in modern times.

There is also a prison cant known as soebela, or sombela which is based on Afrikaans yet heavily influenced by Zulu. This language is used as a secret language in prison and is taught to initiates.[29]

Expatriate geolect

Although Afrikaans is mainly spoken in South Africa and Namibia, smaller Afrikaans-speaking populations live in Argentina,[30] Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Lesotho, Malawi, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Swaziland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia and Zimbabwe.[31] Most, if not all, Afrikaans-speaking people living outside Africa are emigrants and their descendants. Because of emigration and migrant labour, there may be more than 100,000 Afrikaans speakers in the United Kingdom.


The linguist Paul Roberge suggests that the earliest 'truly Afrikaans' texts are doggerel verse from 1795 and a dialogue transcribed by a Dutch traveller in 1825. Printed material among the Afrikaners at first used only standard European Dutch. By the mid-19th century, more and more were appearing in Afrikaans, which was very much still regarded as a set of regional dialects.

In 1861, L.H. Meurant published his Zamenspraak tusschen Klaas Waarzegger en Jan Twyfelaar ("Conversation between Claus Truthsayer and John Doubter"), which is considered by some to be the first authoritative Afrikaans text. Abu Bakr Effendi also compiled his Arabic Afrikaans Islamic instruction book between 1862 and 1869, although this was only published and printed in 1877. The first Afrikaans grammars and dictionaries were published in 1875 by the Genootskap vir Regte Afrikaners ('Society for Real Afrikaners') in Cape Town.

The First and Second Boer Wars further strengthened the position of Afrikaans. The official languages of the Union of South Africa were English and Dutch until Afrikaans was subsumed under Dutch on 5 May 1925.

The main Afrikaans dictionary is the Woordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal (WAT) (Dictionary of the Afrikaans Language), which is as yet incomplete owing to the scale of the project, but the one-volume dictionary in household use is the Verklarende Handwoordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal (HAT). The official orthography of Afrikaans is the Afrikaanse Woordelys en Spelreëls, compiled by Die Taalkommissie.

The Afrikaans Bible

Main article: Bible translations (Afrikaans)

A major landmark in the development of the language was the translation of the whole Bible into Afrikaans. Before this, most Cape Dutch-Afrikaans speakers had to rely on the Dutch Statenbijbel. This Statenvertaling had its origins with the Synod of Dordrecht of 1618 and was thus in an archaic form of Dutch. This was hard for Dutch and Cape Dutch speakers to understand, and increasingly unintelligible for Afrikaans speakers.

C. P. Hoogehout, Arnoldus Pannevis, and Stephanus Jacobus du Toit were the first Afrikaans Bible translators. Important landmarks in the translation of the Scriptures were in 1878 with C. P. Hoogehout's translation of the Evangelie volgens Markus (Gospel of Mark, lit. Gospel according to Mark), however this translation was never published. The manuscript is to be found in the South African National Library, Cape Town.

The first official translation of the entire Bible into Afrikaans was in 1933 by J. D. du Toit, E. E. van Rooyen, J. D. Kestell, H. C. M. Fourie, and BB Keet.[32][33] This monumental work established Afrikaans as 'n suiwer en oordentlike taal, that is "a pure and proper language" for religious purposes, especially amongst the deeply Calvinist Afrikaans religious community that previously had been rather sceptical of a Bible translation that varied from the Dutch version that they were used to.

In 1983 a fresh translation marked the 50th anniversary of the 1933 version and provided a much needed revision. The final editing of this edition was done by E. P. Groenewald, A. H. van Zyl, P. A. Verhoef, J. L. Helberg and W. Kempen.

Afrikaans Version of the Lord's Prayer. Onse Vader.[34]

Onse Vader wat in die hemele is, laat U naam geheilig word. Laat U koninkryk kom, Laat U wil geskied, soos in die hemel net so ook op die aarde. Gee ons vandag ons daaglikse brood, en vergeef ook al ons sonde, soos ons ook ons skuldenaars vergewe. En lei ons nie in versoeking nie, maar verlos ons van die Bose. Amen.


Main article: Afrikaans grammar

In Afrikaans grammar, there is no distinction between the infinitive and present forms of verbs, with the exception of the verbs 'to be' and 'to have':

infinitive form present indicative form Dutch English German
wees is zijn / wezen be sein
het hebben have haben

In addition, verbs do not conjugate differently depending on the subject. For example,

Afrikaans Dutch English German
ek is ik ben I am ich bin
jy/u is jij/u bent you are (sing.) du bist
hy/sy/dit is hij/zij/het is he/she/it is er/sie/es ist
ons is wij zijn we are wir sind
julle is jullie zijn you are (plur.) ihr seid
hulle is zij zijn they are sie sind

The preterite looks exactly like the present but is indicated by adverbs like toe (when), the exceptions being 'to be', 'to be able to', 'to have to', 'to want to', and the modal verb 'shall'.

Afrikaans Dutch English German
present past present past present past present past
ek is ek was ik ben ik was I am I was ich bin ich war
ek kan ek kon ik kan ik kon I can I could ich kann ich konnte
ek moet ek moes ik moet ik moest I must I must ich muß ich musste
ek wil ek wou ik wil ik wilde/wou I will I would ich werde ich würde
ek sal ek sou ik zal ik zou I shall I should ich soll ich sollte

The perfect is sometimes preferred over the preterite in literature where the preterite would be used in Dutch or English, for example, in the case of the verb to drink:

Afrikaans Dutch English German
ek het gedrink ik dronk I drank ich trank

Note: In German, especially those spoken in the south of the German-speaking area, the opposite phenomenon prevails. The perfect is preferred in speech, whereas the preterite is mostly used in narrative texts.

In other respects, the perfect in Afrikaans follows Dutch and English.

Afrikaans Dutch English German
ek het gedrink ik heb gedronken I have drunk(en) ich habe getrunken

A particular feature of Afrikaans is its use of the double negative; it is classified in Afrikaans as ontkennende vorm and is something that is absent from the other West Germanic standard languages. For example,

Afrikaans: Hy kan nie Afrikaans praat nie. (lit. He can not Afrikaans speak not.)
Dutch: Hij spreekt geen Afrikaans.
English: He speaks no Afrikaans.
German: Er spricht kein Afrikaans.
French: Il ne parle pas Afrikaans.

Both French and San origins have been suggested for double negation in Afrikaans. While double negation is still found in Low Franconian dialects in West-Flanders and in some "isolated" villages in the center of the Netherlands (i.e. Garderen), it takes a different form, which is not found in Afrikaans. The following is an example:

Afrikaans Dutch English
Ek wil dit nie doen nie.* (lit. I want this not do not.) Ik wil dit niet doen. This, I do not want to do.

* Compare with "Ek wil nie dit doen nie", which changes the meaning to "I want not to do this." Whereas "Ek wil nie dit doen nie" emphasizes the unwillingness to act, "Ek wil dit nie doen nie" emphasizes the unwillingness to do the specified action.

The -ne was the Middle Dutch way to negate but it has been suggested that since -ne became highly non-voiced, nie or niet was needed to complement the -ne. With time the -ne disappeared in most Dutch dialects.

The double negative construction has been fully grammaticalized in standard Afrikaans and its proper use follows a set of fairly complex rules as the examples below show:

Afrikaans Dutch (literally translated) English More common Dutch English
Ek het nie geweet dat hy sou kom nie. Ik heb niet geweten dat hij zou komen. I did not know that he would be coming. Ik wist niet dat hij zou komen. I knew not that he would come.
Ek het geweet dat hy nie sou kom nie. Ik heb geweten dat hij niet zou komen. I knew (did know) that he would not come. Ik wist dat hij niet zou komen. I knew that he would not come.
Ek het nie geweet dat hy nie sou kom nie. Ik heb niet geweten dat hij niet zou komen. I did not know that he would not come. Ik wist niet dat hij niet zou komen. I knew not that he would not come.
Hy sal[35] nie kom nie, want hy is siek. Hij zal niet komen, want hij is ziek. He will not be coming, as he is sick. Hij komt niet, want hij is ziek.
(more commonly Hij komt niet omdat hij ziek is.)
He does not come because he is sick.
Dis (Dit is) nie so moeilik om Afrikaans te leer nie. Het is niet zo moeilijk om Afrikaans te leren. It is not so difficult to learn Afrikaans.

The word het in Dutch does not correspond to het in Afrikaans.

Afrikaans Dutch English
het heb, hebt, heeft, hebben have, has
die de, het the
dit het it

A notable exception to this is the use of the negating grammar form that coincides with negating the English present participle. In this case there is only a single negation.

Afrikaans Dutch English
Hy is in die hospitaal, maar hy eet nie. Hij is in het ziekenhuis, maar hij eet niet. He is in [the] hospital, though he eats not.

Certain words in Afrikaans arise due to grammar. For example, moet nie, which literally means "must not", usually becomes moenie; although one does not have to write or say it like this, virtually all Afrikaans speakers will change the two words to moenie in the same way as do not shifts to don't in English.


Main article: Afrikaans phonology

Afrikaans' sound system is similar to that of other West Germanic languages like Dutch or Frisian.


There are many parallels to the Dutch orthography conventions and those used for Afrikaans. There are 26 letters.

In Afrikaans, many consonants are dropped from the earlier Dutch spelling. For example, slechts ('only') in Dutch becomes slegs in Afrikaans. Part of this is because the spelling of Afrikaans words is considerably more phonemic than that of Dutch. For example, Afrikaans and some Dutch dialects make no distinction between /s/ and /z/, having merged the latter into the former; while the word for "south" is written "zuid" in Dutch, it is spelled "suid" in Afrikaans to represent this merger. Similarly, the Dutch digraph "ij", normally pronounced as /ɛi/, is written as "y", except where it replaces the Dutch suffix –lijk which is pronounced as /lœk/ or /lik/, as in waarschijnlijk > waarskynlik.

Another difference is the indefinite article, 'n in Afrikaans and een in Dutch. 'A book' is 'n boek in Afrikaans, whereas it is either een boek or 'n boek in Dutch. This 'n is usually pronounced as just a weak vowel, [ə].

The diminutive suffix in Afrikaans is "-tjie", whereas in Dutch it is "-tje", hence a "bit" is bietjie in Afrikaans and beetje in Dutch.

The letters "c", "q", "x", and "z" occur almost exclusively in borrowings from French, English, Greek and Latin. This is usually because words that had "c" and "ch" in the original Dutch are spelled with "k" and "g", respectively, in Afrikaans. Similarly original "qu" and "x" are spelt "kw" and "ks" respectively. For example "ekwatoriaal" instead of "equatoriaal", and "ekskuus" instead of "excuus".

The vowels with diacritics in non-loanword Afrikaans are: "á, é, è, ê, ë, í, î, ï, ó, ô, ú, û, ý". Diacritics are ignored when alphabetising, though they are still important, even when typing the diacritic forms may be difficult.

Initial apostrophes

A few short words in Afrikaans take initial apostrophes. In modern Afrikaans, these words are always written in lower case (except if the entire line is uppercase), and if they occur at the beginning of a sentence, the next word is capitalised. Three examples of such apostrophed words are 'k, 't, 'n. The last (the indefinite article) is the only apostrophed word that is common in modern written Afrikaans, since the other examples are shortened versions of other words (ek and het respectively) and are rarely found outside of a poetic context.[36]

Here are a few examples:

Apostrophed Version Usual Version Translation Notes
'k 't Dit gesê Ek het dit gesê I said it Uncommon, more common: Ek't dit gesê
't Jy dit geëet? Het jy dit geëet? Did you eat it? Extremely uncommon
'n Man loop daar A man walks there Standard Afrikaans pronounces "'n" as a schwa vowel.

The apostrophe and the following letter are regarded as two separate characters, and are never written using a single glyph, although a single character variant of the indefinite article appears in Unicode, ʼn.

Table of characters

For more on the pronunciation of the letters below, see World Heritage Encyclopedia:IPA for Dutch and Afrikaans.

Afrikaans letters and pronunciation
Grapheme IPA Examples and Notes
a /ɐ/, /ɑː/ appel ('apple'; /ɐ/), tale ('languages'; /ɑː/). Represents /ɐ/ at word end and before double consonants and /ɑː/ before single consonant-vowel
aa /ɑː/ aap ('monkey', 'ape')
aai /ɑːi/ draai ('turn')
ai /aj/ baie ('many', 'much' or 'very'), ai (expression of frustration or resignation)
b /b/, /p/ boom ('tree'). Represents /p/ word-finally
c /s/, /k/ Found mainly in borrowed words or proper nouns; the former pronunciation occurs before 'e', 'i', or 'y'; featured in the plural form -ici, as in the plural of medikus ('medic'), medici
ch /ʃ/, /x/, /k/ chirurg ('surgeon'; /ʃ/; typically 'sj' is used instead), chemie ('chemistry'; /x/), chitien ('chitin'; /k/). Found only in loanwords and proper nouns
d /d/ dag ('day'), deel ('part', 'divide', 'share')
dj /d͡ʒ/ djati ('teak'), djihad ('jihad'). Used to transcribe foreign words
e /ɛ/, /eə/, /ə/ bed ('bed'; /ɛ/), ete ('meal'; /eə/), se (/ə/; indicates possession, for example 'Johan se boom', meaning 'John's tree')
è /ɛ/ ('yes?', 'right?'), ('here, take this!' or '[this is] yours!')
ê /eː/, /ɛː/ ('to say'). Represents /ɛː/ word-finally
ë - Diaeresis indicates the start of new syllable, thus 'ë', 'ëe' and 'ëi' are pronounced like 'e', 'ee' and 'ei' respectively
ee /iə/ weet ('to know'), een ('one')
eeu /iːu/ sneeu ('snow'), eeu, ('century')
ei /ɛi/ lei ('to lead')
eu /iø/ seun ('son' or 'lad')
f /f/ fiets ('bicycle')
g /x/ goed ('good'), geel ('yellow')
gh /ɡ/ gholf ('golf'). Used for /ɡ/ when it is not an allophone of /x/; found only in borrowed words
h /ɦ/ hael ('hail'), hond ('dog')
i /i/, /ə/ kind ('child'; /ə/), ink ('ink'; /ə/), krisis ('crisis'; /i/ for first 'i' and /ə/ for second 'i'), elektrisiteit ('electricity'; /i/ for first and second 'i'; third 'i' is part of diphthong 'ei')
î /əː/ wîe (plural of wig; 'wedges' or 'quoins')
ï - Found in words such as beïnvloed ('to influence'). The diaeresis indicates the start of new syllable, thus 'ï' and 'ïe' are pronounced like 'i' and 'ie' respectively
ie /i/ iets ('something')
j /j/ jonk ('young')
k /k/ kat ('cat'), kan ('can' (verb) or 'jug')
l /l/ lag ('laugh')
m /m/ man ('man')
n /n/ nael ('nail')
ng /ŋ/ sing ('to sing')
ns /~s/ Afrikaans ('Afrikaans'). Nasalizes previous vowel followed by an /s/ (n is mute)
o /ɔ/ op ('on' or 'up')
ô /ɔː/ môre ('tomorrow')
ö - Found in words such as mikroörganisme ('micro-organism'). The diaeresis indicates the start of new syllable, thus 'ö' is pronounced the same as 'o'
oe /u/ boek ('book'), koel ('cool')
oei /ui/ koei ('cow')
oi /oj/ mooi ('pretty', 'beautiful'). Sometimes spelled 'oy' in loanwords and surnames
oo /uə/ oor ('ear' or 'over')
ooi /ɔːi/ nooi ('saying for little girl' or 'invitation')
ou /ɵu/ oupa ('grandpa', 'grandfather'), koud ('cold'). Sometimes spelled 'ouw' in loanwords and surnames, for example Louw.
p /p/ pot ('pot'), pers ('purple' or 'press' (indicating the news media)
q /k/ Found only in foreign words with original spelling maintained; typically 'k' is used instead
r /r/ rooi ('red')
s /s/, /z/, /ʃ/ ses ('six'), stem ('voice' or 'vote'), posisie ('position', /z/ for first 's', /s/ for second 's'), rasioneel ('rational', /ʃ/)
sj /ʃ/ sjaal ('shawl')
t /t/, /ʃ/ tafel ('table'), 'aktuaris' ('actuary'; /ʃ/)
tj /tʃ/, /k/ tjank ('whine like a dog' or 'to cry incessantly'). The former pronunciation occurs at the beginning of a word and the latter in "-tjie"
u /œ/ kus ('coast' or 'kiss')
û /œː/ brûe ('bridges')
ü - Found in words such as reünie ('reunion'). The diaeresis indicates the start of a new syllable, thus 'ü' is pronounced the same 'u', except when found in proper nouns and surnames from German, like Müller.
ui /œj/ uit ('out')
uu /y/ uur ('hour')
v /f/ vis ('fish'), vir ('for')
w /v/, /w/ water ('water'; /v/), kwart ('quarter'; /w/)
x /z/, /ks/ xifoïed ('xiphoid'; /z/), x-straal ('x-ray'; /ks/).
y /ɛi/ byt ('bite')
z /z/ Zoeloe ('Zulu'). Found only in onomatopoeia and loanwords

Afrikaans phrases

Afrikaans is a very centralised language, meaning that most of the vowels are pronounced in a very centralised (or schwa-like) way. Although there are many different dialects and accents, the transcription would be fairly standard.

Afrikaans IPA Dutch English German
Hallo! Hoe gaan dit? [ɦaləu ɦu xaˑn dət] Hallo! Hoe gaat het (met je/jou/u)?
Also used: Hallo! Hoe is het?
Hello! How is it going? (Hello! How are you?) Hallo! Wie geht's? (Hallo! Wie geht's dir/Ihnen?)
Baie goed, dankie. [bajə xuˑt daŋki] Heel goed, dank je. Very well, thank you. Sehr gut, danke.
Praat jy Afrikaans? [prɑˑt jəi afrikɑ̃ˑs] Spreek/Praat je Afrikaans? Do you speak Afrikaans? Sprichst du Afrikaans?
Praat jy Engels? [prɑˑt jəi ɛŋəls] Spreek/Praat je Engels? Do you speak English? Sprichst du Englisch?
Ja. [jɑˑ] Ja. Yes. Ja.
Nee. [neˑə] Nee. No. Nein.
'n Bietjie. [ə biki] Een beetje. A bit. Ein bisschen.
Wat is jou naam? [vat əs jəu nɑˑm] Hoe heet je? / Wat is jouw naam? What is your name? Wie heißt du? / Wie ist dein Name?
Die kinders praat Afrikaans. [di kənərs prɑˑt afrikɑ̃ˑns] De kinderen spreken Afrikaans. The children speak Afrikaans. Die Kinder sprechen Afrikaans.
Ek is lief vir jou.
Less common: Ek het jou lief.
[æk əs lif vɯr jəʊ] Ik hou van je/jou.
Common in Southern Dutch: Ik heb je/jou/u lief.
I love you. Ich liebe dich.
Also: Ich habe dich lieb. (Colloquial; virtually no romantic connotation)

It should be noted that in the Dutch language the word "Afrikaans" means African, in the general sense. Consequently Afrikaans is commonly but incorrectly denoted as "Zuid-Afrikaans". This ambiguity also exists in Afrikaans itself and is either resolved in the context of its usage, or by using "Afrikaan" for an African person, and "Afrika-" in the adjective sense.

The following Afrikaans sentence, which has the same meaning in English, is also written identically though its pronunciation differs:

  • My pen was in my hand. ([məi pɛn vɑs ən məi ɦɑnt])

Sample text

Psalm 23. 1983 Translation:

  1. Die Here is my Herder, ek kom niks kort nie.
  2. Hy laat my in groen weivelde rus. Hy bring my by waters waar daar vrede is.
  3. Hy gee my nuwe krag. Hy lei my op die regte paaie tot eer van Sy naam.
  4. Selfs al gaan ek deur donker dieptes, sal ek nie bang wees nie, want U is by my. In U hande is ek veilig.

Translation dependant: Afrikaans:

  1. Die Here is my Herder, niks sal my ontbreek nie.
  2. Hy laat my neerlê in groen weivelde; na waters waar rus is, lei Hy my heen.
  3. Hy verkwik my siel; Hy lei my in die spore van geregtigheid, om sy Naam ontwil.
  4. Al gaan ek ook in 'n dal van doodskaduwee, ek sal geen onheil vrees nie; want U is met my: u stok en u staf die vertroos my.

  1. The Lord is my shepherd I shall not be in want.
  2. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.
  3. He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
  4. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and staff they comfort me.
Lord's prayer (Afrikaans New Living translation)
Ons Vader in die hemel, laat U Naam geheilig word.

Laat U koningsheerskappy spoedig kom. Laat U wil hier op aarde uitgevoer word soos in die hemel. Gee ons die porsie brood wat ons vir vandag nodig het. En vergeef ons ons sondeskuld soos ons ook óns skuldenaars vergewe het. Bewaar ons sodat ons nie aan verleiding sal toegee nie; en bevry ons van die greep van die Bose. Want van U is die koninkryk, en die krag, en die heerlikheid, tot in ewigheid. Amen

Original (Suiwer Afrikaans) Onse Vader:

Onse Vader wat in die hemel is, laat U Naam geheilig word; laat U koninkryk kom; laat U wil geskied op die aarde, net soos in die hemel. Gee ons vandag ons daaglikse brood; en vergeef ons ons skulde soos ons ons skuldenaars vergewe en laat ons nie in die versoeking nie maar verlos ons van die Bose Want aan U behoort die koninkryk en die krag en die heerlikheid tot in ewigheid. Amen


Some state that instead of "Afrikaners" which refers to an ethnic group, the terms Afrikaanses or "Afrikaanssprekendes" (lit. Afrikaans speakers) should be used for people of any ethnic origin who speak Afrikaans. Linguistic identity has not yet established which terms shall prevail, and all three are used in common parlance.[37]

Afrikaans is also widely spoken in Namibia. Before independence, Afrikaans had equal status with German as an official language. Since independence in 1990, Afrikaans has had constitutional recognition as a national, but not official, language. There is a much smaller number of Afrikaans speakers among Zimbabwe's white minority, as most have left the country since 1980. Afrikaans was also a medium of instruction for schools in Bophuthatswana Bantustan.[38]

Many South Africans living and working in Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and Radio Pretoria.

Afrikaans has been influential in the development of South African English. Many Afrikaans loanwords have found their way into South African English, such as 'bakkie' ("pickup truck"), 'braai' ("barbecue"), 'naartjie' ("tangerine"), 'tekkies' (AE "sneakers"/BE "trainers"/CE "runners"). A few words in standard English are derived from Afrikaans, such as 'aardvark' (lit. "earth pig"), 'trek' ("pioneering journey", in Afrikaans lit. "pull" but used also for "migrate"), "spoor" ("animal track"), "veld" ("Southern African grassland" in Afrikaans lit. "field"), "commando" from Afrikaans "kommando" meaning small fighting unit, "boomslang" ("tree snake") and apartheid ("segregation"; more accurately "apartness" or "the state or condition of being apart").

In 1976, secondary school pupils in Soweto began a rebellion in response to the government's decision that Afrikaans be used as the language of instruction for half the subjects taught in non-White schools (with English continuing for the other half). Although English is the mother tongue of only 8.2% of the population, it is the language most widely understood, and the second language of a majority of South Africans.[39] Afrikaans is more widely spoken than English in the Northern and Western Cape provinces, several hundred kilometers from Soweto. The Black community's opposition to Afrikaans and preference for continuing English instruction was underscored when the government rescinded the policy one month after the uprising: 96% of Black schools chose English (over Afrikaans or native languages) as the language of instruction.[40]

Under South Africa's Constitution of 1996, Afrikaans remains an official language, and has equal status to English and nine other languages. The new policy means that the use of Afrikaans is now often reduced in favour of English, or to accommodate the other official languages. In 1996, for example, the South African Broadcasting Corporation reduced the amount of television airtime in Afrikaans, while South African Airways dropped its Afrikaans name Suid-Afrikaanse Lugdiens from its livery. Similarly, South Africa's diplomatic missions overseas now only display the name of the country in English and their host country's language, and not in Afrikaans.

In spite of these moves, the language has remained strong, and Afrikaans newspapers and magazines continue to have large circulation figures. Indeed, the Afrikaans-language general-interest family magazine Huisgenoot has the largest readership of any magazine in the country.[41] In addition, a pay-TV channel in Afrikaans called KykNet was launched in 1999, and an Afrikaans music channel, MK(Musiek kanaal)(lit. 'Music Chanel'), in 2005. A large number of Afrikaans books are still published every year, mainly by the publishers Human & Rousseau, Tafelberg Uitgewers, Struik, and Protea Boekhuis.

Afrikaans has two monuments erected in its honour. The first was erected in Burgersdorp, South Africa, in 1893, and the second, better-known Afrikaans Language Monument (Afrikaanse Taalmonument) was built in Paarl, South Africa, in 1975.

When the British design magazine Wallpaper described Afrikaans as "one of the world's ugliest languages" in its September 2005 article about the monument, South African billionaire Johann Rupert (chairman of the Richemont Group), responded by withdrawing advertising for brands such as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Montblanc and Alfred Dunhill from the magazine.[42] The author of the article, Bronwyn Davies, was an English-speaking South African.

Modern Dutch and Afrikaans share 90-plus per cent of their vocabulary. Afrikaans speakers are able to learn Dutch within a comparatively short time. Native Dutch speakers pick up written Afrikaans even more quickly, due to its simplified grammar, whereas understanding spoken Afrikaans might need more effort. Afrikaans speakers can learn Dutch pronunciation with little training. This has enabled Dutch and Belgian companies to outsource their call centre operations to South Africa.[43]

Future of Afrikaans

Use of Afrikaans as a first language by province
Province 1996[44] 2001[44] 2011[44]
Western Cape 58.5% 55.3% 49.7%
Eastern Cape 9.8% 9.6% 10.6%
Northern Cape 57.2% 56.6% 53.8%
Free State 14.4% 11.9% 12.7%
KwaZulu-Natal 1.6% 1.5% 1.6%
North West 8.8% 8.8% 9.0%
Gauteng 15.6% 13.6% 12.4%
Mpumalanga 7.1% 5.5% 7.2%
Limpopo 2.6% 2.6% 2.6%
 South Africa 14.4%[45] 13.3%[46] 13.5%[47]

Post-apartheid South Africa has seen a loss of preferential treatment by the government for Afrikaans, in terms of education, social events, media (TV and radio), and general status throughout the country, given that it now shares its place as official language with ten other languages. Nevertheless, Afrikaans remains more prevalent in the media – radio, newspapers and television[48] – than any of the other official languages, except English. More than 300 book titles in Afrikaans are published annually.[49] South African census figures suggest a growing number of speakers in all 9 provinces, a total of 6.85 million in 2011 compared to 5.98 million a decade earlier.[50] The South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) project that a growing majority will be Coloured Afrikaans speakers.[51] Afrikaans speakers enjoy higher employment rates than other South African language groups, though half a million remain unemployed.[50]

Despite the challenges of demotion and emigration that it faces in South Africa, the Afrikaans vernacular remains competitive, being popular in DSTV pay channels and a number of internet sites, while generating high newspaper and music CD sales. A resurgence in Afrikaans popular music since the late 1990s has invigorated the language, especially among a younger generation of South Africans. A recent trend is the increased availability of pre-school educational CDs and DVDs. Such media also prove popular with the extensive Afrikaans-speaking expatriate communities who seek to retain language proficiency in a household context.

After years of slumber, Afrikaans language cinema is showing signs of new vigour. The 2007 film Ouma se slim kind, the first full-length Afrikaans movie since Paljas of 1998, is seen as the dawn of a new era in Afrikaans cinema. Several short films have been created and more feature-length movies, such as Poena is Koning and Bakgat (both in 2008) have been produced, besides the 2011 Afrikaans-language film Skoonheid, which was the first Afrikaans film to screen at the Cannes Film Festival. The film Platteland was also released in 2011.[52]

Afrikaans seems to be returning to the SABC. SABC3 announced early in 2009 that it would increase Afrikaans programming due to the "growing Afrikaans-language market and [their] need for working capital as Afrikaans advertising is the only advertising that sells in the current South African television market". In April 2009, SABC3 started screening several Afrikaans-language programmes.[53] Further latent support for the language derives from its de-politicised image in the eyes of younger-generation South Africans, who less and less often view it as "the language of the oppressor". Indeed, there is a groundswell movement within Afrikaans to be inclusive, and to promote itself along with the other indigenous official languages.

In Namibia, the percentage of Afrikaans speakers declined from 11.4% (2001 Census) to 10.4% (2011 Census). The major concentrations are in Hardap (41.0%), Karas (36.1%), Erongo (20.5%), Khomas (18.5%), Omaheke (10.0%), Otjozondjupa (9.4%), Kunene (4.2%), and Oshikoto (2.3%).[54]

See also




Further reading

External links

  • Afrikaans English Online Dictionary at Hablaa
  • Federasie van Afrikaanse Kultuurvereniginge (FAK) – Federation of Afrikaans Cultural Associations
  • World Digital Library
  • Web dossier African Studies Centre, Leiden (2011)

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