Monday, May 5, 2014

Language Profile: Afrikaans

This week we're taking a brief look at Afrikaans, an official language of South Africa. It is a Germanic language that is very closely related to Dutch. Afrikaans is also a recognized regional language of Namibia.

Afrikaans is the third most spoken native language in South Africa, and is also a popular choice as a second or third language in the largely multilingual nation. In Namibia, it is primarily used as a second language, but is also considered an important lingua franca.

Camps Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
The Afrikaans language is considered to be a daughter language of Dutch. This is because it developed from several Dutch dialects that were used by Dutch settlers in the region that is now South Africa. Starting around the 18th century, these dialects began to develop independently from Dutch spoken in the Netherlands, and over the years Afrikaans gained recognition as a distinct language.

Nevertheless, there is still a high degree of mutual intelligibility between Dutch and Afrikaans, especially in their written forms. The main differences between the two languages are found in their morphology, grammar, and spelling choices. 

In terms of its lexicon, over 90% of the vocabulary of Afrikaans is thought to have Dutch origins. It does, however, contain some loanwords from languages such as Portuguese, Malay, French, and Bantu languages.

Finally, here's a bit of trivia you can impress your friends with: The sentences "My pen was in my hand" and "My hand is in warm water" are identical in meaning and writing in both English and Afrikaans, though the pronunciation is slightly different.