Afrikaans - South African Language Afrikaans

/ The Afrikaans Language is one of South Africa's official Languages
South African Languages

Afrikaans Language

Afrikaans Language Monument outside Paarl
Afrikaans Language Monument outside Paarl

The Afrikaans language is one of South Africa’s official languages and a large proportion of the local population uses it as their first or second language. It is still taught in schools.

Afrikaans has a fascinating history of its own, and a heritage and culture that are deeply entwined in its character.

The language is also widely spoken in Namibia and, to a lesser degree, in Zimbabwe, Botswana and other surrounding countries. Some believe that Afrikaans is a dying language, however, it remains spoken all over the country and respected for its origins.

“Afrikaans” is a Dutch word that means “African”. Afrikaans was formed as a language in Cape Town, thanks mainly to the French and Dutch settlers of centuries ago. Today, the Mother City is still home to a smorgasbord of nationalities. Historically, the main nationalities that contributed to South African society were Indonesians, Madagascans, Khoi, the Dutch settlers and West Africans.

Afrikaans is heavily based on the Dutch language. Today, the original dialect is still referred to as Kitchen Dutch, Cape Dutch or African Dutch. It was only in the late 19th century that Afrikaans was actually recognised as a separate language to Dutch. In 1961, Afrikaans became one of the official languages of the country, along with English.

South African School Children
South African School Children
Dutch and Afrikaans are differentiated by their grammar and the vocabulary. Afrikaans is considered to be a language containing “regular” grammar. This is ascribed to certain influences by Dutch-creole languages. A huge proportion of vocabulary shows evidence of its South-Hollandic Dutch origins. The Afrikaans language contains influences and roots from English, Khoi, Xhosa, Asian Malay, Malagasy, San, Portuguese and French; although many of these words do sound extremely different.

The dialect in the north-east was a form of Afrikaans and the written standard was developed from this. Afrikaans is spoken as a first language by 60% of white South Africans and by about 90% of the local coloured folk. Many South African races use Afrikaans as their second or third language.

Afrikaans has been labelled by critics as being an "ugly language" for its guttural quality. This has not prevented it from gaining popularity in many other countries, though. Universities in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Russia and Poland are also teaching Afrikaans.

In 1975, Afrikaans-Language Monument (photo above) was built near the town of Paarl in the Western Cape Province. The structure was extremely impressive and was created to commemorate and honour the Afrikaans language.

Afrikaans has made its mark on local culture and the South African identity.

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The Afrikaans Language and Culture
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