An introduction to
AFRIKAANS – THE AFRICAN DUTCH
Since the Dutch set foot on the southern tip of Africa, Dutch was one of the languages on the continent. There, at the Cape of Good Hope, in the second half of the seventeenth century, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) planted a refreshing station for the vessels that were halfway their voyages. Because of close contacts with non-Europeans the Dutch dialects evolved into what is now known as Afrikaans; this mature, modern language is the mother tongue of 16 million people. But the present government does not like Afrikaans, so the use of the language is actively abolished in schools, universities, courts and other public places.
Twenty years after the first settlement the VOC-employees started families. Asian slaves arrived to serve as workers in the small community. They were speaking an altered form of Portuguese with Malay elements. Such a basic, corrupted language is called pidgin. The Dutch on the Cape spoke diverse dialects of the western provinces of the Netherlands. Meanwhile, all families increased and here and there racial mixing took place. In the eighteenth century some indigenous Hottentot people (a Negroid tribe) also mixed with the Dutch and most Dutch families had Hottentot nannies to look after their children while they were working for the VOC, or for themselves on their own land (there were many free farmers).
The nannies spoke a corrupted form of western Dutch dialects that they were taught by their masters. The children unintentionally adopted this 'Learner's Hollandic Dutch'. Their parents often used sailor’s slang words and Malay terms for products and customs that had been hitherto unknown to speakers in the Dutch motherland. European and African Dutch were developing separately from each other.
In a later stage of the eighteenth century, hundreds of Northern and Western Germans were hired as Company workers, who mingled easily with the Dutch, leaving their traces in the local language. Still, the contribution of the nannies was the biggest; within one generation the initial Dutch dialects were extinct and the nannies’ learner’s Dutch was used instead by the new generation. Here we have white people speaking Dutch that was literally coloured by slaves and natives.
Soon this Cape Dutch worried the authorities and they tried to ‘dutchify’ the Capetonians, but they did not want to learn official Dutch. The ensuing -- third -- generation rather considered themselves African: "Africaander" and their language gradually became known as Africaansch; Afrikaans. They no longer lived only in Cape Town or the adjacent farming villages. Many of then migrated land inward, to eke out for an existence, free of ties to the Dutch dominating government.
But, in a way, Afrikaans was 'dutchified'; the Bible -- usually the only book a family had -- was written in Standard Dutch. This influenced vocabulary and grammar and it prevented the children’s pidgin from fully adopting their nannies' Creole. But it also prevented the new language from total annihilation by standard Dutch because the slightly standardised new language could function well on most levels of daily life. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries various language emancipation movements opposed to the official language, but they were also inspired by it; Dutch was an example because it completed the vocabulary. Its influence organised grammar and it unified the different local and ethnical varieties of Afrikaans. The nineteenth-century version of Afrikaans spoken by the white farmers in the eastern part of the vast Cape Colony became the official version. All other dialects were considered inferior. Afrikaner nationalism had, after being particularly ignited by the war with the British, made Afrikaans a modern, adaptive and full-fledged language that is suitable for every thinkable place and level of society.
Some characteristics of Afrikaans will be given here below. Compared to Dutch, Afrikaans looks like a simple, somewhat child-like variety of Dutch, which is understandable when we look at its history. Its simple spelling is the most characteristic. Although it was conceived by Dutch experts on orthography such as Koldewijn, written Afrikaans attracts a Dutch person’s attention by its similarity to spoken Afrikaans and/or a spoken dialect from the west of the Netherlands. This is because the experts firstly wanted the exact reflection of pronunciation to be met with. The -- also historically explicable -- parallels with Dutch dialects often arouse in Dutch people a feeling of homely recognition or it makes them laugh when they see ‘bad Dutch’ written out so explicitly in Afrikaans newspapers and books.
Another striking element of Afrikaans is its simple grammar. Verbs have no personal flexion (e.g. they don’t change when ‘he does’ something or when ‘they do’ something). Time tenses are also simple; there is present, past and future, but past can only be expressed by using the past particle and its auxiliary verb (e.g. ‘I have looked’ and not ‘I looked’). Like in English, but different to Dutch, the nouns have only one definite article (e.g. ‘the’ is always ‘die’, whereas in Dutch there are ‘het’ and ‘de’). Also worth mentioning is the deletion of medial ‘g’ in between vowels (cf.: Dutch regen > Afrikaans reën [rain]; Dutch bruggen > Afrikaans brûe [bridges]). Most other significant differences with standard Dutch have their origins in the Dutch motherland and cannot be considered Afrikaans changes.
Today Afrikaans is the dominant language of 15,2
million people, regardless racial backgrounds. It is the second largest
language of South Africa, leaving English on a fourth place.
Nevertheless, it is on the demise. English is widely promoted by the
government, dismissing Afrikaans in most public institutions and
services. The status that Afrikaans had yesterday, is
Afrikaans - the African Renaissance
Afrikaans; South Africa's cultural
Consumerism and its devastating effects on local
cultures and economies
The Need for Bilingualism
-- Marcel Bas, Voorschoten, Netherlands
November , 2001.
Do you want to send feedback? Send De Roepstem an e-mail:
| Homepage of this web-site | Bestel het boek 'Zwarte Piet: discriminerend of fascinerend? - Een pleidooi voor de zwarte Zwarte Piet', door Marcel Bas | Omstreden naamsveranderingen in Zuid-Afrika | Apartheid is gelukkig al lang afgeschaft | De snelle verbreiding van Engels voor academische doeleinden (EAP) | The rapid spread of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) | De eenzame strijd van Adriaan van Dis | Ter Verdediging van Zwarte Piet | Over Orania: een Nederlandstalige verklaring | Onderhoud met Marcel Bas in tydskrif In Diepte | Identiteitspolitiek in Nederland | Bezoek aan Zuid-Afrika in 2007 | Traditionele muziek van eigen bodem en van de Afrikaners | Menno van Coehoorn en de vesting van Namen | De Vier Heemskinderen | Wallonië is deel van de Nederlanden | Virginia Woolf's class consciousness | Boekbespreking: Hermann Wirth | Engelbert Dollfuss: corporatisme in Oostenrijk | António Salazar: corporatisme in Portugal | A la recherche du sens perdu? | De noodklok luidt voor het Afrikaans | De knieval van de Mondriaan Stichting | The Meaning of Tradition in Homer's Odyssey (English) | The demise of the Scots spelling system (English) | Waarom een Hollander een (halve) Vlaming is | Vlaanderen, de Calimero van West-Europa | Het Waalse aandeel in de Opstand | Haarlem heeft een Vlaams gezicht | Zannekin Jaarboek 2005 | Turkije is geen Europees land | Tegen EU-toetreding Turkije | Invloed van Afrikaans op Zuid-Afrikaans Engels | De Reformatie in de Nederlanden | Op besoek by die Boere-Sports in Patagonië, Argentinië | De Vlaamse Beweging en de (toekomstige) Macht | Verengelsing in Nederland en Suid-Afrika | Afrikaans, die Sondebok | Leiden, een Heel-Nederlands succesverhaal | Zuiderse kijk op de Nederlanden | Nederlandse handelscompagnies (1602-1795) en verbreiding v/d Nederlandse taal en cultuur | Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer en de Scheuring van de Nederlanden | Die trotse honderdjarige gemeenskap van Afrikaners in Argentinië (1902-2002) | De Engelse Ziekte van Tijdschrift Cosmopolitan | Van der Postgastehuis in Philippolis, SA | Pieter Geyl in Zuid-Afrika | Kleurrijk en Cultuurrijk Nederland / Kleurryk en Kultuurryk Nederland | De Nederlanden in de 21ste eeuw | Bezorgde kanttekeningen bij Euro en EU | De herrijzenis van de vertrapte Afrikaner taal en cultuur | "Er zijn geen Belgen!" | Bijdragen aan De Roepstem van Stichting Taalverdediging | Frans Vlaanderen | Prof. dr Geyl: "Zuid-Afrika in Heel-Nederlands verband" | Groot-Nederland versus Heel-Nederland? | Taalverslapping is Taalverloedering | Afrikaans - Nederlandse Valse Vrienden | De Nederlanden in het Verenigd Europa | Boere-oorlog: Genl. De Wetherdenking in Nederland | ANC-cultuurimperialisme bedreigt Afrikanercultuur | Paul Kruger en zijn Volk | "Julle Nederlanders vermoor julle eie taal!" | Afrikaans-Nederlandse opmerkelijke verschillen | De twee Nederlandse Volksliederen | Die Suid-Afrikaanse Volksliedere | Die Vlaamse Volkslied; De Vlaamse Leeuw | Die Volkslied 'Die Afrikaanse Leeu' | Het Wilhelmus, volledig en oorspronkelijk | Het Surinaamse Volkslied | Deel I Discussie: Prof. P.C. Paardekooper| Deel II Discussie: Hans van Zelsts Reactie | Deel III Discussie: Reactie Van Oostrum op Van Zelst en v.v. | "Die Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners" | Introduction to Afrikaans and the discrimination it faces (English) | The united Europe as an antidote to a democratic nation-state in the ideas of F. Nietzsche (English) | Het Gehele Ingescande Boek van Edmondo de Amicis 'Holland and its People' (English) |
Tuisbladsy toe / To Homepage
Na bo / To top