Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Afrikaans is a Low Franconian variety, derived from Dutch, mainly spoken in South Africa and Namibia with smaller numbers of speakers in Botswana, Angola, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Due to emigration and migrant labour, there are possibly over 100,000 Afrikaans speakers in the United Kingdom, with other substantial communities found in Brussels, Amsterdam, Perth, Western Australia, Toronto and Auckland. It is the primary language used by two related ethnic groups in South Africa: the Afrikaners and the Coloureds or kleurlinge/bruinmense (including Basters, Cape Malays and Griqua).
Geographically, the Afrikaans language is the majority language of the western one-third of South Africa (Northern and Western Cape, spoken at home by 69% and 58%, respectively). It is also the largest first language in the adjacent southern third of Namibia (Hardap and Karas, where it is the first language of 43% and 41%, respectively). It is the most widely used second language throughout both of these countries for the population as a whole, although the younger generation has better proficiency in English.
Afrikaans originated from the Dutch language. The dialect became known as "Cape Dutch". Later, Afrikaans was sometimes also referred to as "African Dutch" or "Kitchen Dutch", although these terms were mainly pejorative. Afrikaans was considered a Dutch dialect until the late 19th century, when it began to be recognised as a distinct language, and it gained equal status with Dutch and English as an official language in South Africa in 1925. Dutch remained an official language until the new 1961 constitution finally stipulated the two official languages in South Africa to be Afrikaans and English (although, curiously, the 1961 constitution still had a sub-clause stipulating that the word "Afrikaans" was also meant to be referring to the Dutch language). It is the only Indo-European language of significance that developed on the African continent.
There are basically three dialects, of which the northeastern variant (which developed into a literary language in the Transvaal) forms the basis of the written standard. Within the Dutch-speaking zones of the Netherlands, Belgium and Suriname, there is greater divergence among the dialects than there is between standard Dutch and standard Afrikaans. Although Afrikaans knows some typical Hollandic tones, there particularly exist striking similarities between Afrikaans and Zeeuws (the dialect of the Zeeland province of the Netherlands which has also similarities with West Flemish). Zeeland is a coastal province of the Netherlands and most of the Dutch spoken in former Dutch colonies is very much influenced by Zeeuws/the Zeeland dialect as many people from Zeeland were involved in The Netherlands' imperial/colonial expansion.
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, 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 the new Dutch-like language. 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), which is as yet incomplete due to the scale of the project, but the one volumed 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 the Taalkommissie.
Standardisation of Afrikaans
Afrikaans spelling is simpler than that of Dutch, and its grammar is similar to the same degree that English grammar is simpler than German grammar. Afrikaans also has a more diverse vocabulary, including words of English, Indian, Malay, Malagasy, Khoi, San and Bantu origins. Cape Dutch vocabulary diverged from the Dutch vocabulary spoken in the Netherlands over time as Cape Dutch absorbed words from other European settlers, slaves from East India and Indonesia's Malay, and native African languages. Research by J. A. Heese indicates that as of 1807, 36.8% of the ancestors of the White Afrikaans speaking population were of Dutch ancestry, 35% were German, 14.6% were French and 7.2% non-white (of African and/or Asian origins). (However, Heese's figures are questioned by other researchers.)
Besides vocabulary, the most striking difference between Dutch and Afrikaans is that Afrikaans has a much more regular grammar, which is likely the result of extensive contact with one or more creole languages based on the Dutch language spoken by the relatively large number of non-Dutch speakers (Khoikhoi, German, French, Cape Malay, and speakers of different African languages) during the formation period of the language in the second half of the 17th century. In 1710, slaves outnumbered free settlers, and the language was developing among speakers who had little occasion to write or analyse their new dialect.
Although much of the vocabulary of Afrikaans reflects its origins in 17th century South Hollandic Dutch, it also contains words borrowed from Asian Malay (one of the oldest known Afrikaans texts used Arabic script; see Arabic Afrikaans), Malagasy, Portuguese, French, Khoi and San dialects, English, Xhosa and many other languages. Consequently, many words in Afrikaans are very different from Dutch, as demonstrated by these names of fruits:
* from Malay pisang (via Dutch East Indies history). Piesang (spelt as pisang) is also used colloquially in The Netherlands and in Indonesian Dutch. ** In Malay, nanas = pineapple. *** suur = sour (which is essentially the same as the Dutch word 'zuur'). Lemoen or limoen is also used in standard Dutch where it translates as 'lime', however.
Comparison with Dutch and English
Written Afrikaans differs from Dutch in that the spelling reflects a phonetically simplified language, and so many consonants are dropped (see also the grammar section for a description of how consonant dropping affects the morphology of Afrikaans adjectives and nouns). The spelling is also considerably more phonetic than the Dutch counterpart. A notable feature is the indefinite article, which, as noted in the grammar section, is "'n", not "een" as in Dutch. "A book" is "'n boek", whereas in Dutch it would be "een boek". (Note that "'n" is still allowed in Dutch; Afrikaans uses only "'n" where Dutch uses it next to "een". When letters are dropped an apostrophe is mandatory. Note that this " 'n" is usually pronounced as a weak vowel (like the Afrikaans "i") and is not as a consonant.
Other features include the use of 's' instead of 'z', and therefore, 'South Africa' in Afrikaans is written as Suid-Afrika, whereas in Dutch it is Zuid-Afrika. (This accounts for .za being used as South Africa's internet top level domain.) The Dutch letter 'IJ' is written as 'Y', except where it replaces the Dutch suffix —lijk, as in waarschijnlijk = waarskynlik. It is interesting to note that the use of the hard "k" is analogous to the pronunciation in parts of Flanders, which was once part of the United Provinces, and whence many Afrikaners came. Also noteworthy is that, although the first 90 Afrikaner settlers came from Haarlem in the Northern Netherlands, the majority of the population of that city at that time consisted of Southern Dutch immigrants.
The letters c, q and x are rarely seen in Afrikaans, and words containing them are almost exclusively borrowings from French, English, Greek or Latin. This is usually because words which had c and ch in the original Dutch are spelt with k and g repectively in Afrikaans (in many dialects of Dutch (including the Hollandic ones), a ch is spoken as a g, which explains the use of the g in Afrikaans language). Similarly original qu and x are spelt kw and ks respectively. For example ekwatoriaal instead of "equatoriaal" and ekskuus instead of "excuus".
Afrikaans uses 26 letters, just like English. Although it makes use of various diacritics to modify a letter: è, é, ê, ë, î, ï, ô, û, these should not however be regarded as special characters in addition to the 26 normal letters and may, indeed, be replaced by their normal equivalents in cases where it is impractical or impossible to use the diacritics (as in ASCII computer terminals — It is, however, considered erroneous to replace the letters where conditions do not necessitate it).
ŉ is regarded as two separate characters, and the "n" in 'n may never be written in upper case. When used at the beginning of a sentence, the second word's first letter should be capitalised. ŉ is the Afrikaans equivalent of the English "a/an," e.g. 'n Man loop ver or A man walks far.
Note: This page or section contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. See International Phonetic Alphabet for a pronunciation key.
Afrikaans is a very centralised language, meaning that most of the vowels are pronounced in a very centralised (i.e. very schwa-like) way. There are many different dialects and different pronunciations — but the transcription should be fairly standard.
An interesting sentence having the same meaning and written (but not pronounced) identically in Afrikaans and English is:
Similarly the sentence:
has almost identical meaning in Afrikaans and English although the Afrikaans warm corresponds more closely in meaning to English hot and Dutch heet (Dutch warm corresponds to English warm, but is closer to Afrikaans in pronunciation).
Another interesting play on words:
Hallo! Hoe gaan dit? [ɦaləu ɦu xaˑn dət] Hello! How are you?
Baie goed, dankie. [bajə xuˑt danki] Very well, thanks.
Praat jy/u Afrikaans? [prɑˑt jəi afrikɑˑns] Do you speak Afrikaans?
Praat jy/u Engels? [prɑˑt jəi ɛŋəls] Do you speak English?
Ja. [jɑˑ] Yes.
Nee. [neˑə] No.
'n Bietjie. [ə biki] A little.
Wat is jou/u naam? [vat əs jəu nɑˑm] What is your name?
Die kinders praat Afrikaans. [di kənərs prɑˑt afrikɑˑns] The children speak Afrikaans.
My pen was in my hand. ([məi pɛn vas ən məi hɑnt])
My hand is in warm water. ([məi hɑnt əs ən varəm vɑˑtər])
Baie koud! [bajə kəʊt] It is very cold!
Buy a coat!
Baie dankie! Thank you very much!
Buy a donkey! Afrikaans phrases
Afrikaans is the first language of approximately 60% of South Africa's "Whites", and over 90% of the "Coloured" (mixed-race) population. Large numbers of "black" South Africans, Indians, and English-speaking whites (Anglo-Africans) also speak it as a second language. Some state that Afrikaanses should be used as a term for all people who speak Afrikaans, irrespective of ethnic origin, instead of "Afrikaners", which refers to an ethnic group, or "Afrikaanssprekendes" (lit. people that speak Afrikaans). Linguistic identity has not yet established that one term be favoured above another and all three are used in common parlance. argue that the primary cause of the uprising was one specific aspect of the government's language instruction decision: that non-White (i.e., Black, Coloured and Indian) South African children be denied instruction in all but the most basic topics of mathematics, sciences, fine arts, etc. The government justified this policy by claiming that non-White South Africans would never have an occasion to use such knowledge; see History of South Africa.
Under South Africa's democratic 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 (which have upset many Afrikaans speakers), the language has remained strong, with Afrikaans newspapers and magazines continuing 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, MK89, in 2005. A large number of Afrikaans books also continue to be published every year. Afrikaans music is also flourishing.
Afrikaans still shares approximately 85 percent of its vocabulary with Dutch, and Afrikaans speakers are able to learn Dutch within a comparatively short period of time. Native Dutch speakers pick up Afrikaans even more quickly, due to its simplified grammar, and Afrikaans speakers can learn a Dutch accent with little training. This has enabled Dutch companies to outsource their call centre operations to South Africa .
Afrikaans has two monuments erected in its honour. The first was erected in Burgersdorp, South Africa, in 1893, and the second, more well-known Afrikaans Language Monument (Afrikaanse Taalmonument) was built in Paarl, South Africa, in 1975. The South African filmmaker, Jamie Uys, made a documentary feature film on the rise of the Afrikaner and the development of the language entitled "Doodkry Is Min" (They Can't Oppress Us). It had its premiere at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria in 1961 and copies are preserved at the National Film, Video and Sound Archives.
Aardklop Arts Festival
List of Afrikaans language poets
List of English words of Afrikaans origin
Afrikaans speaking population in South Africa
South African Translators' Institute See also
Roberge, P. T., 2002. Afrikaans - considering origins, in Language in South Africa, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom. ISBN 0-521-53383-X
South African Afrikaans: History |Slang General
Litnet - Literature, culture and debate
Die Knoop - A very large list of links to Afrikaans websites
Woes.co.za - A popular multi-user blog
The New South African - Afrikaans - More about South Africa's official languages.
Kuier.co.za - A popular multi-user blog Organisations
Spel.co.za - Spell checker for Microsoft Office
WSpel - Spell checker for Microsoft Word
Translate.org.za - Spell checker for OpenOffice.org, Mozilla Firefox and Mozilla Thunderbird
Posted by so2374 at 10:28 AM