One of my all time favourite languages (apart from Swedish) has got to be Afrikaans. I rarely feel as passionate about a language as I do with Afrikaans, possibly because I feel as if it’s one I was meant to speak.
Afrikaans is often considered to be a language of controversy, many modern day South Africans regard it as a language of oppression due to Apartheid. Years ago, Afrikaans and English were the only official language of South Africa, where as now there are 11 official languages.
Where Afrikaans came from
Afrikaans is West Germanic language, and historically it is a daughter language of Dutch. Before Afrikaans became an official recognized language, it was often referred to as ‘Cape Dutch’ or ‘Kitchen Dutch’. due to it being a mere slang form of Dutch. The term ‘Afrikaans’ is actually Dutch for ‘African’.There is a large degree of mutual intelligibility between the languages, due to the fact that around 95% of Afrikaans vocabulary derives from Dutch, however it is easier for Dutch-speakers to understand Afrikaans than for Afrikaans-speakers to understand Dutch. Afrikaans first originated from 17th century Dutch dialects and as a result, it is the youngest of the Germanic language branch.
Why Afrikaans is considered an easy language
Afrikaans is the fourth most spoken Germanic language in the world after English, German and Dutch, hence why it is seen to be a great entrance into the Germanic world for English speakers. One reason why Afrikaans is easier than other Germanic languages such as German is due to the lack of complicated grammar. Firstly, unlike German, there is no gender in Afrikaans which is easier for English speakers. Secondly, the grammar in Afrikaans may not be entirely the same as English but it is very simple and can make things easier when one starts to learn Dutch or German.
A bit of grammar
In order to make a statement in Afrikaans negative, the word ‘nie‘ is added after the verb and at the end of the sentence.
Ek praat Afrikaans (I speak Afrikaans)
Ek praat nie Afrikaans nie (I don’t speak Afrikaans)
The past tense in Afrikaans is formed by using Het (has/have) along with the past particle of the verb ge
Ek praat (I speak)
Ek het gepraat (I spoke)
The Future of Afrikaans
In terms of South African media, Afrikaans is making a prevalent return, particularly in the film and music industry. Films like Bakgat (an Afrikaans teen film) and Verraaiers (a drama set during the Boer war) are a beginning of a new breakthrough in Afrikaans cinema. The same can also be said for Afrikaans music, bands such as Straatligkinders and singers like Bok Van Blerk are examples of the rise of Afrikaans in the media.
In my opinion, Afrikaans is one the most beautiful and expressive languages in the world, and I don’t just say this because it is a very easy language. I taught myself Afrikaans using an older edition of ‘Teach Yourself Afrikaans’ along with listening to a variety of Afrikaans music and speaking with South African friends. Some English speakers may also be aware of Afrikaans words such as ‘Braai’ which means barbecue, which have been incorporated into South African English. So if you ever get the chance to visit South Africa, or get into contact with South Africans, then learn Afrikaans, whilst being one the most geographically spread languages of South Africa, it will make your experience all the more enjoyable and amazing.