The Afrikaans language is a West Germanic language. Primarily originating from the Dutch language in the 17th century, Afrikaans also has clear linguistic influences from Portuguese, Malay and French. It is a native language to South Africa.
Three primary dialects emerged a couple of centuries ago; Northern Cape, Western Cape and Eastern Cape. However, these days, though there are accents for various regions of South Africa, these dialects have been effectively “smoothed out”, and the sound of the Afrikaans language is considerably less fractured than it was.
These days, the language has been heavily incorporated into South African English, with many words being adopted as everyday vocabulary. These are not just slang words, but common words used in the Afrikaans language. Learning Afrikaans can help you to understand more of South African English. If this is a language that you are interested in learning, it is fascinating to note that you can at the same time be picking up words that will help you to understand another cultures particular branch of English.
There are an estimated 6 million speakers of the Afrikaans language in South Africa alone. This is just over 13% of the population, and is the third most used language in this area of the world. It is used throughout the country, and is one of nine official languages, including English.
Today, the Afrikaans language is the first language of around 5.2 million South Africans, although many South Africans also speak Afrikaans as their second language. The language has travelled extensively, and you will find Afrikaans-speaking peoples in the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium and Kuwait, not to mention to a lesser extent in Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The Afrikaans language has 26 letters to its alphabet, but many other sounds comprise it. Nouns in the Afrikaans language do not have a gender, though there is a difference made between singular and plural noun forms. In an interesting twist to the language, adjectives are often the words of the sentence that are inflected. You will emphasis the adjective in the sentence even if it is not the primary focus of the sentence.
In the Afrikaans language, as with many South African languages, uses what is called the STOMPI Rule. This is a way to remember and to understand which fragments of the sentence come in which order. To break down this acronym, we can see that the sentence structure follows as thus: Subject, (First Verb), Time, Object, Manner, Place, (Second verb), Infinitive.
Another interesting feature of the Afrikaans language is the use of the double negative. Most languages around the world do not use double negatives in the correct version of their speech, while in the Afrikaans language it is perfectly acceptable to say, for example, “We did not go there not.” It is thought that this came as an influence from the French language.
Why Learn The Afrikaans Language?
If you are one of the 27 million people who either speak Dutch fluently or have learned Dutch, then picking up the Afrikaans language will be potentially rather easy for you, as 90% of Afrikaans words are of Dutch origin. Certain aspects of the language such as grammar and sentence structure are also very similar to Afrikaans.
Modern Dutch still has a great deal in common with modern Afrikaans, so if you know one of these languages then chances are it will be easier for you to pick up the other. For those of you who do not have knowledge of the Dutch language, there is no need to worry. Afrikaans has a very structured grammatical system, and anyone familiar with Germanic languages can pick this language up potentially quickly.
The Afrikaans language is used extensively throughout South African media. If you are looking to relocate to South Africa, particularly for work within the entertainment or advertising industries, then this language will be invaluable to you. Afrikaans language films are also starting to be made again, after nearly a decade long hiatus from 1998 to 2007, so if these are areas that you are looking to work in, then it is not a bad idea to begin learning the Afrikaans language.