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Afrikaans (/ˌæfrᵻˈkɑːns, ˌɑːfri-, -ˈkɑːnts, -ˈkɑːnz/)[5][6] is a West Germanic language spoken in South Africa, Namibia and, to a lesser extent, Botswana and Zimbabwe. It evolved from the Dutch vernacular[7][8] of South Holland (Hollandic dialect)[9][10] 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.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13] 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.[1] 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.[1]

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.[1] Both Afrikaans and German survive as recognised regional languages in the country, although only English has official status within the government.

Estimates of the total number of Afrikaans speakers range between 15 and 23 million.[n 8]

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