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Language Information

Afrikaans is one of eleven official languages of the Republic of South Africa. It is spoken by over 6 million people—the 3 million white Afrikaaners, plus about 11 million other people speak it as a second language.

Afrikaans is a development of 17th-century Dutch brought to South Africa by the first settlers from Holland. The subsequent isolation of the people and their descendants caused increasing deviations from the original Dutch, so that Afrikaans may now be considered a separate language. Written Afrikaans can be most easily distinguished from Dutch by the indefinite article 'n, which in Dutch is een.

Afrikaans has served as the basis for other, more ephemeral, mixed languages in South Africa.It has complex origins - which it demonstrates in a rich variety of loanwords from Portuguese, Malay, Bantu languages and Khoisan languages. It has also borrowed from English and has in turn influenced the regional english of South Africa.

By Contrast with Dutch, Afrikaans has no noun gender: die man ' the man' , die vrou ' the woman' . A double negative, comparable to French ne...pas is the usual rule : hy staan nie op nie ' he does not stand up'.

Afrikaans has contributed numerous loanwords to English, including the notorious Apartheid, literally ' separateness'. Kraal 'enclosure' is in origin an Afrikaans loan from Portuguese curral 'farmyard', which is also the origin of American English Corral.

Afrikaans is spoken/used in the following countries:
Namibia, South Africa.

Language Family
Family: Indo-European
Subgroup: Germanic
Branch: Western

Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge.

Writing Sample

Writing Sample


This evening once again I longed
in vague, abysmal fear
of my own old, grey loneliness
that you were with me here,

that the cool reaches of your voice
about me I were feeling,
like the rippling of the summer rain
so softly o'er me stealing.

And when above the dark, cold wind
that round my cottage blew
I heard the latch, my heart leapt up
with joy to welcome you . .

And now we sit before the fire,
its flame-glow in our hair. .
Meanwhile the rain-wind murmurs through
the fallen leaves out there.

—W. F. G. LOUW, Quiet Evening