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
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.
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)