Afrikaans (/ˌæfrᵻˈkɑːns, ˌɑːfri-, -ˈkɑːnts, -ˈkɑːnz/) is a West Germanic language spoken in South Africa, Namibia and, to a lesser extent, Botswana and Zimbabwe. It evolved from the Dutch vernacular of South Holland (Hollandic dialect) spoken by the mainly Dutch settlers of what is now South Africa, where it gradually began to develop distinguishing characteristics in the course of the 18th century. Hence, it is a daughter language of Dutch, and was previously referred to as "Cape Dutch" (a term also used to refer collectively to the early Cape settlers) or "kitchen Dutch" (a derogatory term used to refer to Afrikaans in its earlier days). However, it is also variously described as a creole or as a partially creolised language.[n 1] The term is ultimately derived from Dutch Afrikaans-Hollands meaning "African Dutch". It is the first language of most of the Afrikaners and Coloureds of Southern Africa.
Although Afrikaans has adopted words from other languages, including Portuguese, the Bantu languages, Malay, German and the Khoisan languages, an estimated 90 to 95% of Afrikaans vocabulary is of Dutch origin.[n 2] Therefore, differences with Dutch often lie in the more analytic morphology and grammar of Afrikaans, and a spelling that expresses Afrikaans pronunciation rather than standard Dutch.[n 3] There is a large degree of mutual intelligibility between the two languages—especially in written form.[n 4]
With about 7 million native speakers in South Africa, or 13.5% of the population, it is the third-most-spoken language in the country. It has the widest geographical and racial distribution of all the eleven official languages of South Africa, and is widely spoken and understood as a second or third language.[n 5] It is the majority language of the western half of South Africa—the provinces of the Northern Cape and Western Cape—and the first language of 75.8% of Coloured South Africans (3.4 million people), 60.8% of White South Africans (2.7 million) and at 4.6% the second most spoken first-language among Asian South Africans (58,000). About 1.5% of black South Africans (600,000 people) speak it as their first language. Large numbers of speakers of Bantu languages and English-speaking South Africans also speak it as their second language. It is taught in schools, with about 10.3 million second-language students. One reason for the expansion of Afrikaans is its development in the public realm: it is used in newspapers, radio programs, TV, and several translations of the Bible have been published since the first one was completed in 1933.
In neighbouring Namibia, Afrikaans is widely spoken as a second language and used as a lingua franca,[n 6] while as a native language it is spoken in 10.4% of households, mainly concentrated in the capital Windhoek, Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and the southern regions of Hardap and ǁKaras.[n 7] It, along with German, was among the official languages of Namibia until the country became independent in 1990, 25% of the population of Windhoek spoke Afrikaans at home. Both Afrikaans and German survive as recognised regional languages in the country, although only English has official status within the government.
The writing system of Afrikaans uses the Latin alphabet along with some diacritics for vowels. Below are the letters, diacritics, and some digraphs and trigraphs:
|b||/b/||î||/əː/||ch||/ʃ/, /x/, /k/|
The characters ⟨ë⟩ and ⟨ï⟩ also exist with the same pronunciation as the vowels without the diaeresis. This indicates that the vowel begins a new syllable.
The grammar of Afrikaans is derived from and is similar to Dutch. Main clauses use a V2 word order, meaning the finite verb is always in the second position. Other verbs appear at the end of the main clause.
Afrikaans uses double negation. For a sentence consisting of a subject, a negated verb, and an object, only one negating word is required:
- Ek kom hom nie
- I know him not
- "I do not know him"
For a sentence with the subject negated, the negating word nie is required in addition to negating the subject.
- Niemand kom hom nie
- Nobody knows him not
- "Nobody knows him"
Nouns in Afrikaans do not have gender and inflect only for number. Most nouns are pluralized by adding s or e to the end. Pronouns do inflect for case.
Many adjectives in Afrikaans inflect based on their position by adding the ending e. An adjective can take the ending if it is used attributively (directly modifying the noun). Almost all adjectives with more than one syllable inflect this way. Monosyllabic adjectives inflect based on their endings:
- Die kat is vinnig
- The cat is fast
In this sentence, the adjective vinnig does not inflect as it is used predicatively.
- Die vinnige kat
- The fast cat
In this phrase, the adjective inflects as it is used attributively.
Almost all verbs have the same present and infinitive form, the exceptions being wees ("to be") and hê ("to have"). Verbs do not conjugate to match the subject. Almost all verbs use the perfect tense for the past which usually consists of adding the prefix ge to the verb stem, exceptions including modals and wees.
- A Grammar of Afrikaans by Bruce Donaldson
|West Afrikaans Dutch English German Old English|