|Native to||South Africa, Namibia|
7.1 million (2011 census)|
10.3 million L2 speakers in South Africa (2002)
Official language in
|Regulated by||Die Taalkommissie|
Regions shaded dark blue represent areas of concentrated Afrikaans-speaking communities
Afrikaans (//, //, or //) is a West Germanic language spoken in South Africa, Namibia, and to a lesser extent, Botswana and Zimbabwe. It evolved from the Dutch vernacular of South Holland (Hollandic dialect) spoken by the mainly Dutch settlers of what is now South Africa, where it gradually began to develop distinguishing characteristics in the course of the 18th century. Hence, 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). The term is ultimately derived from Dutch "Afrikaans-Hollands" meaning "African Dutch". It is the first language of most of the Afrikaner and Coloured people of Southern Africa.
Although Afrikaans has adopted words from other languages, including Portuguese, the Bantu languages, Malay, German and the Khoisan languages, an estimated 90 to 95% of Afrikaans vocabulary is of Dutch origin. Therefore, differences with Dutch often lie in the more analytic morphology and grammar of Afrikaans, and a spelling that expresses Afrikaans pronunciation rather than standard Dutch. There is a large degree of mutual intelligibility between the two languages—especially in written form.
With about 7 million native speakers in South Africa, or 13.5% of the population, it is the third-most-spoken language in the country. It has the widest geographical and racial distribution of all the eleven official languages of South Africa, and is widely spoken and understood as a second or third language. 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 75.8% of Coloured South Africans (3.4 million people), 60.8% of White South Africans (2.7 million) and at 4.6% the second most spoken first-language among Asian South Africans (58,000). About 1.5% of black South Africans (600,000 people) speak it as their first language. Large numbers of speakers of Bantu languages and English-speaking South Africans also speak it as their second language. It is taught in schools, with about 10.3 million second language students. One reason for the expansion of Afrikaans is its development in the public realm: it is used in newspapers, radio programs, TV, and several translations of the Bible have been published since the first one was completed in 1933.
In neighbouring Namibia, Afrikaans is widely spoken as a second language and used as lingua franca, while as a native language it is spoken in 10.4% of households, mainly concentrated in the capital Windhoek and the southern regions of Hardap and ǁKaras. It, along with German, was among the official languages of Namibia until the country became independent in 1990, 25% of the population of Windhoek spoke Afrikaans at home. Both Afrikaans and German survive as recognised regional language in the country, although only English has official status within the government.
The Afrikaans language arose in the Dutch Cape Colony, through a gradual divergence from European Dutch dialects, during the course of the 18th century. 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" (Afr. 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/gebroken/onbeschaafd Hollands ("mutilated/broken/uncivilised Dutch"), as well as verkeerd Nederlands ("incorrect Dutch"). An estimated 90 to 95% of Afrikaans vocabulary is ultimately of Dutch origin, and there are few lexical differences between the two languages; however, Afrikaans has a considerably more regular morphology, grammar, and spelling. There is a degree of mutual intelligibility between the two languages, particularly in written form.
Afrikaans acquired some lexical and syntactical borrowings from other languages such as Malay, Khoisan languages, Portuguese, and of the Bantu languages, and Afrikaans has also been significantly influenced by South African English. Nevertheless, Dutch speakers are confronted with fewer noncognates when listening to Afrikaans than the other way round. Mutual intelligibility thus tends to be asymmetrical, as it is easier for Dutch speakers to understand Afrikaans than for Afrikaans speakers to understand Dutch. In general, mutual intelligibility between Dutch and Afrikaans is better than between Dutch and Frisian or between Danish and Swedish. The South African poet writer Breyten Breytenbach, attempting to visualize the language distance for anglophones once remarked that the differences between (Standard) Dutch and Afrikaans are comparable to those between the Received Pronunciation and Southern American English.
Beginning in about 1815, Afrikaans started to replace Malay as the language of instruction in Muslim schools in South Africa, written with the Arabic alphabet: see Arabic Afrikaans. Later, Afrikaans, now written with the Latin alphabet, started to appear in newspapers and political and religious works in around 1850.
In 1875, a group of Afrikaans-speakers from the Cape formed the Genootskap vir Regte Afrikaanders (Society for Real Afrikaners), and published a number of books in Afrikaans including grammars, dictionaries, religious materials and histories. In 1925, Afrikaans was recognised by the South African government as a real language, rather than simply a slang version of Dutch proper.
Afrikaans was considered a Dutch dialect in South Africa 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. A relative majority of the first settlers whose descendants today are the Afrikaners were from the United Provinces (now Netherlands and Flanders), though up to one-sixth of the community was also of French Huguenot origin, and a seventh from Germany.
The workers and slaves who contributed to the development of Afrikaans were Asians (especially Malays) and Malagasys, as well as the Khoi, San, 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. The Khoi and mixed-race groups became collectively referred to as 'Coloureds'.
The Afrikaans Language Monument (Afrikaans: Afrikaanse Taalmonument) is located on a hill overlooking Paarl, Western Cape Province, South Africa. Officially opened on 10 October 1975, it commemorates the 50th anniversary of Afrikaans being declared an official language of South Africa in distinction to Dutch. It was erected in Paarl on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners (Society of Real Afrikaners), an organisation which helped to strengthen Afrikaners' identity and pride in their language.
The linguist Paul Roberge suggested 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
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. 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 belongs to its own West Germanic sub-group, the Low Franconian languages. Its closest relative is the mutually-intelligible mother language, Dutch language. Other West Germanic languages related to Afrikaans are German, English and the Frisian languages and the unstandardised languages Low German and Yiddish.
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. The white Afrikaans-speaking community started being referred to colloquially as "The Boere". The terms "boerseun" (farm boy) and "boeremeisie" (farm girl) became popular among young white Afrikaners for expressing national pride, regardless of whether or not they actually grew up on a farm.
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.
Many South Africans living and working in Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and Kuwait are also Afrikaans-speaking. They have access to Afrikaans websites, news sites such as Netwerk24.com and Sake24, and radio broadcasts over the web, such as those from Radio Sonder Grense 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 (American "sneakers", British "trainers", Canadian "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. Afrikaans is more widely spoken than English in the Northern and Western Cape provinces, several hundred kilometres from Soweto. The Black community's opposition to Afrikaans and preference for continuing English instruction was underlined 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. Also, due to Afrikaans being viewed as the language of the white oppressor by some, pressure has been increased to remove Afrikaans as a teaching language in South African universities, resulting in bloody student protests in 2015.
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. In addition, a pay-TV channel in Afrikaans called KykNet was launched in 1999, and an Afrikaans music channel, MK (Musiek kanaal) (lit. 'Music Channel'), 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. The Afrikaans film trilogy Bakgat (first released in 2008) caused a reawakening of the Afrikaans film Industry (which has been dead since the mid to late 1990s) and Belgian-born singer Karen Zoid's debut single Afrikaners is Plesierig (released 2001) caused a resurgence in the Afrikaans music industry as well as gave rise to the Afrikaans Rock genre.
Afrikaans has two monuments erected in its honour. The first was erected in Burgersdorp, South Africa, in 1893, and the second, nowadays 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. The author of the article, Bronwyn Davies, was an English-speaking South African.
Modern Dutch and Afrikaans share over 90 percent 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.
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 – than any of the other official languages, except English. More than 300 book titles in Afrikaans are published annually. South African census figures suggest a growing number of speakers in all nine provinces, a total of 6.85 million in 2011 compared to 5.98 million a decade earlier. The South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) project that a growing majority will be Coloured Afrikaans speakers. Afrikaans speakers experience higher employment rates than other South African language groups, though half a million remain unemployed.
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 several 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. The Afrikaans Film industry started gaining international recognition via the likes of big Afrikaans Hollywood film stars, like Charlize Theron ( Monster (2003 film)) and Sharlto Copley (District 9) promoting their mother tongue.
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. 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%), ǁKaras (36.1%), Erongo (20.5%), Khomas (18.5%), Omaheke (10.0%), Otjozondjupa (9.4%), Kunene (4.2%), and Oshikoto (2.3%).
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 the Northern Cape, Western Cape, and Eastern Cape dialects. Northern Cape dialect may have resulted from contact between Dutch settlers and the Khoi-Khoi people between the Great Karoo and the Kunene, and Eastern Cape dialect between the Dutch and the Xhosa. 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.
The term Kaapse Afrikaans ("Cape Afrikaans") is sometimes erroneously used to refer to the entire Western Cape dialect; it is more commonly used for a particular sociolect spoken in the Cape Peninsula of South Africa. Kaapse Afrikaans was once spoken by all population groups. However, it became increasingly restricted to the Cape Coloured ethnic group in Cape Town and environs.
- The 1st person singular pronoun ik as in Dutch as opposed to Afrikaans ek
- The diminutive endings tje, pronounced as in Dutch and not as /ki/ as in Afrikaans.
- The use of the form seg, cf. Dutch zegt as opposed to Afrikaans sê
Kaapse Afrikaans has some other features not typically found in Afrikaans.
- The pronunciation of j, normally /j/ as in Dutch is often a /dz/. This is the strongest feature of Kaapse Afrikaans.
- The insertion of /j/ after /s/, /t/ and /k/ when followed by /e/, e.g. kjen as opposed to Afrikaans ken.
An example of characteristic Kaapse Afrikaans:
|Dutch:||En ik zeg (tegen) jullie: wat zoeken jullie hier bij mij? Ik zoek jullie niet! Nee, ga nu weg!|
|Kaapse Afrikaans||En ik seg ve' djille, wat soek djille hie' by my? Ik soek'ie ve' djille nie! Nei, gaat nou weg!|
|Afrikaans:||En ek sê vir julle, wat soek julle hier by my? Ek soek julle nie! Nee, gaan nou weg!|
|English (direct):||And I say to you, what seek you here by me? I seek you not! No, go now away!|
|English:||And I'm telling you, what are you looking for here? I don't want you here! No, go away now!|
The term Oranjerivierafrikaans ("Afrikaans of the Orange River") is sometimes erroneously used to refer to the Northern Cape dialect; it is more commonly used for the regional peculiarities of standard Afrikaans spoken in the Upington/Orange River wine district of South Africa.
Some of the characteristics of Oranjerivierafrikaans are the plural form -goed (Ma-goed, meneergoed), variant pronunciation such as in kjerk (Church) and gjeld (money) and the ending -se, which indicates possession.
Although Afrikaans is mainly spoken in South Africa and Namibia, smaller Afrikaans-speaking populations live in Argentina, Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Lesotho, Malawi, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Swaziland, the UAE, the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, the USA, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Most Afrikaans-speaking people living outside Africa are emigrants and their descendants. Because of emigration and migrant labour, more than 100,000 Afrikaans speakers may live in the United Kingdom.
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 (gewesen)|
In addition, verbs do not conjugate differently depending on the subject. For example,
|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|
Only a handful of Afrikaans verbs have a preterite, namely the auxiliary wees ("to be"), the modal verbs, and the verb dink ("to think"). The preterite of mag ("may") is rare in contemporary Afrikaans.
|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 had to||ich muss||ich musste|
|ek wil||ek wou||ik wil||ik wilde/wou||I want||I wanted||ich will||ich wollte|
|ek sal||ek sou||ik zal||ik zou||I will||I would||ich werde||ich wurde|
|ek mag||(ek mog)||ik mag||ik mocht||I may||I might||ich mag||ich mochte|
|ek dink||ek dog||ik denk||ik dacht||I think||I thought||ich denke||ich dachte|
All other verbs use the perfect tense (hê + past participle) for the past. Therefore, there is no distinction in Afrikaans between I drank and I have drunk. (Also in colloquial German, the past tense is often replaced with the perfect.)
|ek het gedrink||ik dronk||I drank||ich trank|
|ek het gedrink||ik heb gedronken||I have drunk||ich habe getrunken|
When telling a longer story, Afrikaans speakers usually avoid the perfect and simply use the present tense, or historical present tense instead (as is possible, but less common, in English as well).
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. / Hij kan geen Afrikaans praten.
- English: He speaks no Afrikaans. / He can not speak Afrikaans. / He can't speak 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 centre of the Netherlands (i.e. Garderen), it takes a different form, which is not found in Afrikaans. The following is an example:
|Ek wil dit nie doen nie.* (lit. I want this not do not.)||Ik wil dit niet doen.||I do not want to do this.||Ich will dies nicht tun.|
* 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 a lack of want to act, Ek wil dit nie doen nie emphasizes the act itself.
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:
The Dutch word het ("it" in English) does not correspond to het in Afrikaans. The Dutch words corresponding to Afrikaans het are heb, hebt, heeft and hebben.
|het||heb, hebt, heeft, hebben||have, has||habe, hast, hat, habt, haben|
|die||de, het||the||die, der, das|
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.
|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.||Er ist im Krankenhaus, aber er isst nicht.|
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.
- As phonemes, /iː/ and /uː/ occur only in the words spieël /spiːl/ 'mirror' and koeël /kuːl/ 'bullet', which used to be pronounced with sequences /i.ə/ and /u.ə/, respectively. In other cases, [iː] and [uː] occur as allophones of, respectively, /i/ and /u/ before /r/.
- /y/ is phonetically long [yː] before /r/.
- When stressed, /ə/ is closer than mid, i.e. [ɨ̞].
- /əː/ is always stressed (and therefore is also closer than mid, that is [ɨ̞ː]), and occurs only in the word wîe 'wedges'.
- The closest unrounded counterparts of /œ, œː/ are central /ə, əː/, rather than front /ɛ, ɛː/.
- /œː, ɔː/ occur only in a few words.
- As a phoneme, /æ/ occurs only in some loanwords from English, such as pêl /pæl/ 'pal', as well as in some words such as vertrek /fərˈtræk/ 'departure'. As an allophone of /ɛ/ before /k, χ, l, r/, [æ] occurs dialectally, most commonly in the former Transvaal and Free State provinces.
- As a phoneme, /æː/ occurs only in some loanwords from English (such as grênd [græːnt] 'grand'), as well as before /k/ in some words. [æː] also occurs as an allophone of /ɛː/ before /r/ and the sequences /rs, rt, rd/.
|Starting point||Ending point|
- All obstruents at the ends of words are devoiced, so that e.g. a final /d/ is realized as [t].
- /ɡ, dʒ, z/ occur only in loanwords. [ɡ] is also an allophone of /χ/ in some environments.
- /χ/ is most often uvular [χ ~ ʀ̥]. Velar [x] occurs only in some speakers.
- /r/ is usually an alveolar trill [r] or tap [ɾ]. In some parts of the former Cape Province, it is realized uvularly, either as a trill [ʀ] or a fricative [ʁ].
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. Also, 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 (as well as dialectal Dutch writings) to represent this merger. Similarly, the Dutch digraph ĳ, normally pronounced as /əi/, 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. For example, geëet instead of the 3 e's alongside each other: geeet, which can never occur in Afrikaans, or sê, which translates to "say", whereas se is a possessive form.
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.
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 Wikipedia:IPA for Dutch and Afrikaans.
|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')|
|ai||/aj/||baie ('many', 'much' or 'very'), ai (expression of frustration or resignation)|
|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/||nè ('yes?', 'right?'), dè ('here, take this!' or '[this is] yours!')|
|ê||/eː/, /ɛː/||sê ('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')|
|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||/f/||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|
|k||/k/||kat ('cat'), kan ('can' (verb) or 'jug')|
|ng||/ŋ/||sing ('to sing')|
|o||/ɔ/||op ('on' or 'up')|
|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')|
|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|
|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'), sjokolade ('chocolate')|
|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/, /yː/||kus ('coast' or 'kiss'), skadu ('shade'). The latter is rare and most commonly found as the word u (formal 'you')|
|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.|
|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/).|
|z||/z/||Zoeloe ('Zulu'). Found only in onomatopoeia and loanwords|
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.
|Hallo! Hoe gaan dit?||[ɦɐlœu ɦu χɑːn dət]|| Hallo! Hoe gaat het (met jou/je/u)?|
Also used: Hallo! Hoe is het?
|Hello! How goes it? (Hello! How are you?)||Hallo! Wie geht's? (Hallo! Wie geht's dir/Ihnen?)|
|Baie goed, dankie.||[bɐiə χut dɐŋki]||Heel goed, dank je.||Very good, thank you.||Sehr gut, danke.|
|Praat jy Afrikaans?||[prɑːt jəi ɐfrikɑ̃ːs]||Spreek/Praat jij/je Afrikaans?||Do you speak Afrikaans?||Sprichst du Afrikaans?|
|Praat jy Engels?||[prɑːt jəi ɛŋəls]||Spreek/Praat jij/je Engels?||Do you speak English?||Sprichst du Englisch?|
Also: Nee. (Colloquial)
|'n Bietjie.||[ə biki]||Een beetje.||A bit.||Ein bisschen.|
|Wat is jou naam?||[vɐt əs jœu nɑːm]||Hoe heet jij/je? / Wat is jouw naam?||What is your name?|| Wie heißt du? / Wie ist dein Name?|
|Die kinders praat Afrikaans.||[di kənərs prɑːt ɐfrikɑ̃ˑns]||De kinderen spreken/praten Afrikaans.||The children speak Afrikaans.||Die Kinder sprechen Afrikaans.|
|Ek is lief vir jou.|
Less common: Ek het jou lief.
|[æk əs lif fər jœu]|| Ik hou van jou/je.|
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)
In the Dutch language the word "Afrikaans" means African, in the general sense. Consequently, Afrikaans is commonly 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.
A handful of Afrikaans words are exactly the same as in English. The following Afrikaans sentences, for example, are exactly the same in the two languages, in terms of both their meaning and spelling; only their pronunciation differs.
- My pen was in my hand. ([məi pɛn vɐs ən məi ɦɐnt])
- My hand is in warm water. ([məi ɦɐnt əs ən vɐrm vɑːtər])
Psalm 23 1983 translation:
Die Here is my Herder, ek kom niks kort nie.
Hy laat my in groen weivelde rus. Hy bring my by waters waar daar vrede is.
Hy gee my nuwe krag. Hy lei my op die regte paaie tot eer van Sy naam.
Selfs al gaan ek deur donker dieptes, sal ek nie bang wees nie, want U is by my. In U hande is ek veilig.
Psalm 23 alternative translation:
Die Here is my Herder, niks sal my ontbreek nie.
Hy laat my neerlê in groen weivelde; na waters waar rus is, lei Hy my heen.
Hy verkwik my siel; Hy lei my in die spore van geregtigheid, om sy Naam ontwil.
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.
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
Lord's Prayer (Original translation):
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
- Aardklop Arts Festival
- Afrikaans literature
- Afrikaans speaking population in South Africa
- Arabic Afrikaans
- Handwoordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal (Afrikaans Dictionary)
- Differences between Afrikaans and Dutch
- IPA for Afrikaans
- Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (Arts Festival)
- Languages of South Africa
- List of Afrikaans language poets
- List of Afrikaans singers
- List of English words of Afrikaans origin
- South African Translators' Institute
- Afrikaans is a daughter language of Dutch; see Booij 1999, p. 2, Jansen, Schreuder & Neijt 2007, p. 5, Mennen, Levelt & Gerrits 2006, p. 1, Booij 2003, p. 4, Hiskens, Auer & Kerswill 2005, p. 19, Heeringa & de Wet 2007, pp. 1, 3, 5.
Afrikaans was historically called Cape Dutch; see Deumert & Vandenbussche 2003, p. 16, Conradie 2005, p. 208, Sebba 1997, p. 160, Langer & Davies 2005, p. 144, Deumert 2002, p. 3, Berdichevsky 2004, p. 130.
Afrikaans is rooted in seventeenth century dialects of Dutch; see Holm 1989, p. 338, Geerts & Clyne 1992, p. 71, Mesthrie 1995, p. 214, Niesler, Louw & Roux 2005, p. 459.
Afrikaans is variously described as a creole, a partially creolised language, or a deviant variety of Dutch; see Sebba 2007, p. 116.
- Afrikaans borrowed from other languages such as Portuguese, Malay, Bantu and Khoisan languages; see Sebba 1997, p. 160, Niesler, Louw & Roux 2005, p. 459.
90 to 95% of Afrikaans vocabulary is ultimately of Dutch origin; see Mesthrie 1995, p. 214, Mesthrie 2002, p. 205, Kamwangamalu 2004, p. 203, Berdichevsky 2004, p. 131, Brachin & Vincent 1985, p. 132.
- For morphology; see Holm 1989, p. 338, Geerts & Clyne 1992, p. 72. For grammar and spelling; see Sebba 1997, p. 161.
- Dutch and Afrikaans share mutual intelligibility; see Gooskens 2007, p. 453, Holm 1989, p. 338, Baker & Prys Jones 1997, p. 302, Egil Breivik & Håkon Jahr 1987, p. 232.
For written mutual intelligibility; see Sebba 2007, p. 116, Sebba 1997, p. 161.
- It has the widest geographical and racial distribution of all the official languages of South Africa; see Webb 2003, pp. 7, 8, Berdichevsky 2004, p. 131. It has by far the largest geographical distribution; see Alant 2004, p. 45.
It is widely spoken and understood as a second or third language; see Deumert & Vandenbussche 2003, p. 16, Kamwangamalu 2004, p. 207, Myers-Scotton 2006, p. 389, Simpson 2008, p. 324, Palmer 2001, p. 141, Webb 2002, p. 74, Herriman & Burnaby 1996, p. 18, Page & Sonnenburg 2003, p. 7, Brook Napier 2007, pp. 69, 71.
An estimated 40% have at least a basic level of communication; see Webb 2003, p. 7 McLean & McCormick 1996, p. 333.
- Some 85% of Namibians can understand Afrikaans; see Bromber & Smieja 2004, p. 73.
There are 152,000 native speakers of Afrikaans in Namibia; see Deumert & Vandenbussche 2003, p. 16.
Afrikaans is a lingua franca of Namibia; see Deumert 2004, p. 1, Adegbija 1994, p. 26, Batibo 2005, p. 79, Donaldson 1993, p. xiii, Deumert & Vandenbussche 2003, p. 16, Baker & Prys Jones 1997, p. 364, Domínguez & López 1995, p. 399, Page & Sonnenburg 2003, p. 8, CIA 2010.
- Afrikaans is spoken in 11 percent of Namibian households; see Namibian Population Census 2001. In the Hardap Region it is spoken in 44% of households, in the ǁKaras Region by 40% of households, in the Khomas Region by 24% of households; see Census Indicators, 2001 and click through to "Regional indicators".
- What follows are estimations. Afrikaans has 16.3 million speakers; see de Swaan 2001, p. 216. Afrikaans has a total of 16 million speakers; see Machan 2009, p. 174. About 9 million people speak Afrikaans as a second or third language; see Alant 2004, p. 45, Proost 2006, p. 402. Afrikaans has over 5 million native speakers and 15 million second language speakers; see Réguer 2004, p. 20. Afrikaans has about 6 million native and 16 million second language speakers; see Domínguez & López 1995, p. 340. In South Africa, over 23 million people speak Afrikaans, of which a third are first-language speakers; see Page & Sonnenburg 2003, p. 7. L2 "Black Afrikaans" is spoken, with different degrees of fluency, by an estimated 15 million; see Stell 2008–2011, p. 1.
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|Afrikaans edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
|Wikivoyage has a phrasebook for Afrikaans.|
|Wikibooks has a book on the topic of: Afrikaans|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Afrikaans|
- Afrikaans English Online Dictionary at Hablaa
- Afrikaans-English Online Dictionary at majstro.com
- Learn Afrikaans Online (Open Learning Environment)
- Federasie van Afrikaanse Kultuurvereniginge (FAK) – Federation of Afrikaans Cultural Associations
- Dutch Writers from South Africa: A Cultural-Historical Study, Part I from the World Digital Library
- Afrikaans Literature and Language Web dossier African Studies Centre, Leiden (2011)