Just a little something about Afrikaans

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.bly-kalm-en-praat-afrikaans-1


About Elliot Conway

My name is Elliot Conway and I am recent graduate in International Relations from the University of Lincoln. My passion in life is learning, and encouraging others to learn foreign languages. This bog will contain posts about specific languages, my experiences learning languages, as well as helpful guides to help you become an efficient language learner.
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6 Responses to Just a little something about Afrikaans

  1. Bert-Jan says:

    Interesting article. I am Dutch and I like reading Afrikaans on the web. In the Netherlands there is a renewed interest in Afrikaans. There is even an Afrikaans language festival in Amsterdam with music and movies. http://www.festivalvoorhetafrikaans.nl

  2. myhartjie says:

    Weet nie hoekom nie, maar is altyd opgewonde om te hoor nie-Afrikaners leer die taal.

  3. Die reis says:

    As an Afrikaans speaking person I’m passionate about Afrikaans, but I always figured that it might be because I’m extremely sentimental. Everyone probable feels this way about their home language. That is why it is so nice to read about people who share my passion for this language even though it’s not their home language. It’s surprising how many there are of you. Like Steff Bos put it: “Dis ’n liefde wat nou lankal die stadium van verliefdheid verby is. Dit het ná al die jare diep onder my vel begin kruip en sou ek dit wil los, is dit nie moontlik nie, want dis nou ’n deel van my.”

  4. Ek voel om Afrikaans te wees om my erfenis taal as my familie kom oorspronklik van Suid-Afrika. Ek het dus omhels dit as my eie.

  5. Pingback: Bestselling Author Jack Singer Won’t Be Returning to South Africa | Chris Keys

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