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Afrikaans is a Low Franconian West Germanic language descended from Dutch and spoken mainly in South Africa and Namibia. There are also speakers of Afrikaans in Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, Germany, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the UK, the USA, Zambia and Zimbabwe. About 7.2 million people speak Afrikaans as a native language, and a further 8-15 million speak it as a second language.

Afrikaans at a glance

  • Native name: Afrikaans [ɐfriˈkɑːns]
  • Linguistic affliation: Indo-European, Germanic, West Germanic, Low Franconian, Dutch
  • Number of speakers: c.15-23 million
  • Spoken in: South Africa and Namibia
  • First written: 19th century
  • Writing system: Arabic and Latin alphabets
  • Status: official language in South Africa and Namibia

Afrikaans retains some features of 18th century Dutch, together with vocabulary from various Bantu and Khoisan languages and also from Portugese and Malay. Speakers of Afrikaans can understand Dutch, though Dutch speakers tend to need a while to tune into Afrikaans.

From about 1815 Afrikaans started to replace Malay as the language of instruction in Muslim schools in South Africa. At that time it was written with the Arabic alphabet. Afrikaans, written with the Latin alphabet, started to appeared in newspapers and political and religious works in about 1850. Then in 1875 a group of Afrikaans speakers from the Cape formed the Genootskap vir Regte Afrikaanders (Society for Real Afrikaners), and published a number of books in Afrikaans, including grammars, dictionaries, religious material and histories. They also published a journal called the Patriot.

During the early years of the 20th century there was a blossoming of academic interest in Afrikaans. In 1925 Afrikaans was recognised by the government as a real language, instead of a slang version of Dutch. Afrikaans has changed little since then.

Afrikaans alphabet

A a B b C c D d E e F f G g H h I i
aa bee see dee ee ef gee haa ie
J j K k L l M m N n O o P p Q q R r
jee kaa el em en oo pee kuu er
S s T t U u V v W w X x Y y Z z  
es tee uu vee wee ex y set  

Afrikaans pronunciation

Afrikaans pronunciation

Sample text in Afrikaans

Alle menslike wesens word vry, met gelyke waardigheid en regte, gebore. Hulle het rede en gewete en behoort in die gees van broederskap teenoor mekaar op te tree.

Hear a recording of this text by Marius Kock


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Sample video in Afrikaans

See more videos like this on Wikitongues

Information about Afrikaans | Afrikaans phrases | Afrikaans kinship terms | Tower of Babel in Afrikaans | Afrikaans learning materials


Information about Afrikaans

Online Afrikaans lessons

Hear the sounds of the Arikaans alphabet

Afrikaans and Dutch humour newsletter

Afrikaans phrases

Online Afrikaans dictionaries

Online Afrikaans Radio

Online news Afrikaans - a blog in Afrikaans

Language translation services

Germanic languages

Afrikaans, Alsatian, Bavarian, Cimbrian, Danish, Dutch, Elfdalian, English, Faroese, Flemish, German, Gothic, Icelandic, Low German / Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, Norn, North Frisian, Norwegian, Old English, Old Norse, Pennsylvania German, Saterland Frisian, Scots, Shetland(ic), Swedish, Swiss German, West Frisian, Yiddish

Other languages written with the Latin alphabet