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Afrikaans

Main Contents


Introduction

This page has 2 sentences and 6 words for you to learn

The youngest Germanic language

Flag of South Africa.svg

The name "Afrikaans" means literally "African". Afrikaans has its roots in 17th-century Dutch, but has since developed its own distinctive character and flavour in the three centuries that it developed mostly in South Africa and in parts of Namibia. Being a Germanic language, it is closely related to Dutch, English and to a lesser extent German. Compare the following:

  • English: I eat an apple.
  • Afrikaans: Ek eet 'n appel.
  • Dutch: Ik eet een appel.
  • German: Ich esse einen Apfel.

English has many more words of a Latin or French origin than Afrikaans, but a more archaic word can often show the similarities between the two languages.

  • English: hound, fowl, house, milk
  • Afrikaans: hond, voël, huis, melk
Provinces of South Africa where Afrikaans is in the majority. Note that Afrikaans is spoken all over the country and also in Namibia.

Most interestingly, consider these two sentences:

  • My hand is in warm water.
  • My pen is in my hand.

These two sentences can be either English or Afrikaans, and both have exactly the same meaning in both languages. But despite this, Afrikaans has significant differences from English. It might not be as easy to learn for an English speaker as, say, Esperanto, but it is still considered a relatively easy language to learn, and is advocated by some as a good introduction to learning Dutch and other Germanic languages in general.

Can Afrikaans people and Dutch people understand each other?

Afrikaans and Dutch are very closely related and are more or less mutually understandable. More about that here. Dutch's grammar is a bit more complex than Afrikaans', but they share a lot of the same vocabulary, albeit with slightly different spellings and pronunciations. Comparing Afrikaans and Dutch is somewhat like comparing Norwegian Bokmål and Danish.

It is a commonly held belief that Afrikaans people tend to understand Dutch quite well, and Dutch people generally need more time to understand Afrikaans. The truth of this claim may vary from individual to individual. Some Afrikaans people claim to understand written Dutch better than spoken Dutch.

Language of the oppressor?

Afrikaans is seen by some in a negative light because it was the language promoted by the apartheid regime. Some even claim that it should be forgotten. We acknowledge the terrible atrocities of that regime but still regard Afrikaans language and culture as beautiful and worthy of preservation. The past is the past; it cannot be changed. The future is what really counts. Should German language and culture be done away with because it was once advocated by the Nazi party?

Besides, many speakers of the language (about half!) were not white and were victims of the regime's many manipulations, including ripping apart families and forcefully moving whole communities.

Trivia

The Afrikaans monument.

<<Back to the main page

On to Pronunciation!>>


Pronunciation

Afrikaans1.jpg

Afrikaans uses the same alphabet as English. Notable differences include diacritics on the letters (like ê), while certain letters, such as c, exist but are infrequently used.

You'll soon find Afrikaans has a very phonetic (phonemic) spelling; that is, unlike in English, French or even its parent language Dutch, Afrikaans words are almost always spelled the way they sound.

This chart uses IPA - the international phonetic alphabet to show the exact Afrikaans pronunciation. You can read more about it here. The English words are only an approximate guide. Afrikaans pronunciation can be a bit tricky for English speakers because the language has quite a few sounds that don't exist in English. The best way to learn is to listen to native Afrikaans speakers. You can listen to streaming Afrikaans radio here and hear Afrikaans sound recordings at this site.

Letter IPA English Approximation Example Word
a ʌ, a, ɑː plus, jump, awesome kap
aa ɑː awesome daad
aai aːɪ why laai
ai thai baie
au ou goat auditorium
b b, p (final position) bat, mapp bevat
ch x loch chemie
c s (before e, i, and y), k sun, kick Celsius
d d, t (final position) dark, hat daar
dj c no English approximation djihad
e ɛ, iˑǝ, ə, æ bed, erie, about, cat bed
ê ɛː (final position), æ hair, cat
ee iˑe eerie een
eeu iːu east + took leeu
ei əi play seil
ey əi play ceylon
eu øː few euforie
f f fox familie
g x, g, ç loch, golf, hue geld
gh g, k (final position) golf, kick gholf
h h high hoe
i i, ə see, about idee
i.e. i see dankie
j j yes ja
k k kick kat
l l let lughawe
m m mall maak
n n, ŋ (before c, k, q, and x) nice, sing van
ng ŋ sing vang
ns the n is silent, and the previous vowel is nasalized no English approximation Afrikaans
o ɔ, oˑǝ bog, wisdom obligasie
ô ɔ cause môre
oe u loot voet
oei uiː phooey koei
oi oj row + yes boikot
oo uˑo loot soom
ooi ɔiː oil strooi
ou ɔʊ tow mou
p p map paar
r ɾ very rooi
s s sun sein
sj ʃ shin sjoe
t t top taal
tj tʃ (initial position), kj top + shin, kick + yes tjek
u ɵ urn uit
uu y breed duur
û œː no English approximation brûe
ui œy play lui
uy œy urn + east ly
v f fox voël
w v, w (after consonant) visit, winter water
y əi play ys
z z zulu zirkonium


<<Back to Introduction

On to Lesson One!>>


Lesson One

This page has 34 words and 3 sentences that you can learn
Afrikaans Les Een: The Basics

Flag of South Africa.svg

Vocabulary

These vocabulary words can be found through this lesson, in the examples, in the dialogues, and to assist you in doing the exercises. Anytime there is a word you don't know in the lesson, refer to this comprehensive list.

English Afrikaans
and en
be wees (present tense: is)
eat eet
food kos
good afternoon goeiemiddag
goodbye totsiens
good evening goeienaand
good morning goeiemôre
goodnight goeienag
hello hallo/goeiedag
hi haai
How are you? Hoe gaan dit (met jou/U/julle)?
I'm fine Goed dankie/ Dit gaan goed met my
My name is... My naam is.../ Ek is...
see sien
sleep slaap
thanks dankie


==Vocabulary similarities between English and Afrikaans ==

One can take just a few simple transformations to your English vocabulary and then acquire an Afrikaans vocabulary easily. Afrikaans is a part of the Indo-European language group thus its shares a lot of history that in language development as the its European counterparts. Take for example that all words in English ending in -tion you can replace with -sie to have the Afrikaans equivalent of the word. So the English words position, action, condition, etc. will be posisie, aksie, kondisie etc. And then with minor changes to the spelling such as replacing the c with k, because in Afrikaans the c changes to a k-sound. These are only a few of the "language tricks" that you can use to trans from your English into Afrikaans and gain a few nouns to your vocabulary.

Dialogue

Each lesson's dialogue will provide a conversation with features that will be discussed in the lesson, so that by the time you finish the lesson you should be able to understand without looking at the translation why the conversation is structured the way it is.

Valerie Goeiemôre!
Johan Hallo! Hoe gaan dit met u?
Valerie Dit gaan goed dankie. My naam is Valerie, en u?
Johan My naam is Johan.
Valerie Totsiens, Johan!

Translation

Valerie Good morning!
Johan Hello! How are you?
Valerie I'm fine, thanks. I'm Valerie, and you?
Johan My name is Johan.
Valerie Goodbye, Johan!

Greetings

Afrikaans greetings are used in the same way as English ones are. What this means is that when speaking informally, you will usually greet someone with a haai rather than saying hallo or goeiedag to them. It is important to know that goeienaand is how you greet someone in the evening while goeienag is something you say when you're leaving someone at nighttime. Finally, the informal way to ask how someone it is Hoe gaan dit with the addition of met jou at the end being optional. If you are in a formal situation, or speaking to more than one person, you will add met u (formal) or met julle (plural). The pronoun section will clarify when to use jou/u/julle, which all translate into English as you.

Pronouns

Subject Pronouns

The subject of a sentence corresponds to who is doing the action (She loves him).

English Afrikaans
I ek
you (singular, familiar) jy
you (singular/polite) u
he hy
she sy
it dit
we ons
you (plural) julle
they hulle so

Object Pronouns

The object of a sentence is who the action is directed towards (She loves him, I gave it to her).

English Afrikaans
me my
you (singular, familiar) jou
you (singular/polite) u
him hom
her haar
it dit
us ons
you (plural) julle
them hulle

The most obvious difference is the three forms of "you". Jy is most like the English "you", and is used more generally and when addressing a friend. U is the formal or polite version of "you", and is used when addressing an elder, your boss, a stranger or anyone whom you wish to show respect. Note that it is capitalized when referring to the Christian God. Julle is used when addressing more than one person.

Word Order

In Afrikaans, simple, present tense sentences are in SVO word order. English is an SVO language too. SVO stands for subject-verb-object. This means who does the verb comes first, then the verb comes next, and lastly, if the verb is directed towards something or someone it comes last. For example, in the sentence "I eat fruit" "I" is the person doing the action so it is first. "Eating" is what I'm doing so it comes second, and the eating is done to the fruit, so it's the object. So "I'm eating food" in Afrikaans is therefore "Ek eet kos".

Verb "To Be"

The infinitive is the form of a verb when it has no subject. In English this is to+verb, or just the verb. In Afrikaans the infinitive is the "regular" form you'll find in the dictionary, but even easier than English, the present tense and the infinitive are the same so the only difference between them is one has a subject and one doesn't. What this means is that while in many languages the verb changes forms when talking about different people ("I love-->She loves"), in Afrikaans we depend on the subject. There are two big exceptions to this, and we're going to learn the first one in this lesson. "To be" in Afrikaans is "wees" (infinitive form). The present form of "wees" is "is"—similar to English.

Another important thing to know is that the Afrikaans present can be both regular present and the present continuous ("Sally eet" can mean either "Sally eats" or "Sally is eating").

Exercises

Translate these sentences into English.

  • Jy is Johan.
  • Hoe gaan dit?
  • Valerie slaap.
  • Goeienag!
  • Ek sien hulle.
  • Sy is goed.
  • Ek eet kos.

Translate these sentences into Afrikaans.

  • I am Sally.
  • My name is Johan.
  • You (plural) eat it.
  • We are sleeping.
  • Hi!
  • You (formal) see him.

Exercise Answers

Answers to the above exercises.

  • You (singular) are Johan.
  • How are you? (informal)
  • Valerie sleeps/is sleeping.
  • Goodnight
  • I see them.
  • She's fine.
  • I eat food.


  • Ek is Sally.
  • My naam is Johan.
  • Julle eet dit.
  • Ons slaap.
  • Hallo!
  • U sien hom.

<<Back to Pronunciation

On to Lesson Two!>>


Lesson Two

Afrikaans Les Twee: Descriptions

Definite and Indefinite Articles

Gender

Many languages will give words grammatical gender, but this is not the case for Afrikaans, just like English, there is no gender and thus nouns have no classification.

The

In English we use the word "the" to point out a specific thing. If someone says, "I ate all of the cake", they aren't referring to any cake, it's a specific one. Afrikaans has the same thing. In Afrikaans this word is "die", and just like in English, it can be used for the singular and the plural.

English: the dogs, the tree, the walls

Afrikaans: die honde, die boom, die mure.

A/An

The Afrikaans word for "a" or "an" is " 'n". This is called the indefinite article because it means one thing, but it cannot refer to a specific thing such as in the sentence "I ate a cake". This could be any cake. 'n Is always written with an apostrophe (') and is never capitalized, even if it starts a sentence. If it starts a sentence, then the first letter of the following word gets capitalized.

Forming Questions

There are two main ways of forming question words: by starting out with a question word (What language are you learning?) or by turning a statement into a question (You are learning Afrikaans becomes Are you learning Afrikaans?).

Question Words

English Afrikaans
what wat
who wie
whose wie se
why hoekom / waarom
where waar
when wanneer
which watter
how hoe
how much/many hoeveel

When making simple sentences, these questions will have question word-verb-object word order.

  • English: Who is the president of South Africa?
  • Afrikaans: Wie is die president van Suid-Afrika?
  • English: Where do you live?
  • Afrikaans: Waar woon jy?

Questions Beginning with Verbs

Often we ask questions that don't start with question words, but with verbs. Afrikaans does this too. The difference in word order: in English we say "Do you write letters?" but in Afrikaans it would read "Write you letters?". The verb comes first, followed by the subject, than the object. It is important to remember however that word order will change when we add more complex elements.

  • English: Do you smoke cigars?
  • Afrikaans: Rook julle sigare?

Adjectives

When adjectives are used with the verb wees ("She is sick", "He is blonde") you can use the form of the adjective you'll find in the dictionary. However, when an adjective is directly modifying a noun (as in "She is a sick girl", "He has blonde hair") their form usually alter somewhat. This change is called inflection. As a general rule, polysyllabic adjectives are normally inflected; monosyllabic adjectives may or may not be inflected though, depending mostly on a set of rather complex phonological rules. When an adjective is inflected, it usually takes the ending -e and a series of morphological changes may result. For example, the final t following an /x/ sound, which disappears in uninflected adjectives like reg, is restored when the adjective is inflected (regte). A similar phenomenon applies to the addition of t after /s/. For example, the adjective vas becomes vaste when inflected. Conversely, adjectives ending in -d (pronounced /t/) or -g (pronounced /x/) following a long vowel or diphthong, lose the -d and -g when inflected.

Adjectives come before nouns, like in English.

English Afrikaans
Uninflected Inflected
black swart swarte
fast vinnig vinnige
deaf doof dowe
cold koud koue
low laag lae
high hoog hoë
Adjectives ending in a 'g' — add a 'te'
bad sleg slegte
Adjectives ending in 'f' — change it to two 'w's
stupid laf lawwe
Irregulars
good goed goeie
old oud ou, oue
new nuut nuwe

Possessive Pronouns

  • "mine" - "myne"
  • "yours" (singular)- "jou" or "u" (joune?)
  • "his" - "sy"
  • "her" - "haar"
  • "our" - "ons" (onse?)
  • "yours" (plural) - "julle"
  • "their" - "hulle"



<<Back to Lesson One

On to Lesson Three!>>


Lesson Three

Afrikaans Les Drie: Nommers

Number Afrikaans English
0 Nul Zero
1 Een One
2 Twee Two
3 Drie Three
4 Vier Four
5 Vyf Five
6 Ses Six
7 Sewe Seven
8 Agt Eight
9 Nege Nine
10 Tien Ten
11 Elf Eleven
12 Twaalf Twelve
13 Dertien Thirteen
14 Veertien Fourteen
15 Vyftien Fifteen
16 Sestien Sixteen
17 Sewentien Seventeen
18 Agtien Eighteen
19 Negentien Nineteen
20 Twintig Twenty

With this knowledge, you can count up to twenty.

30 Dertig Thirty
40 Veertig Forty
50 Vyftig Fifty
60 Sestig Sixty
70 Sewentig Seventy
80 Tagtig Eighty
90 Negentig Ninety

To find other numbers, the format is <ONES> en <TENS>. Replace <ONES> with a number between one and nine. Replace <TENS> with twintig, dertig, veertig, vyftig, sestig, sewentig, tagtig, or negentig. For example, een en twintig translates to twenty one. Now you can count up to ninety nine!


<<Back to Lesson Two

On to Lesson Four!>>


External Links

Afrikaans/External Links


Newspapers

Here is a list of newspapers in South Africa and Namibia.

Flag of South Africa.svg Suid-Afrikaanse koerante (Afrikaans), South African newspapers

Flag of Namibia.svg Namibiese koerante (Afrikaans), Namibian newspapers


Contributors

The Afrikaans Language textbook was first started on June 12, 2005. Add yourself to the list below if you feel you've made a significant contribution to this textbook.



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You may make a collection consisting of the Document and other documents released under this License, and replace the individual copies of this License in the various documents with a single copy that is included in the collection, provided that you follow the rules of this License for verbatim copying of each of the documents in all other respects.

You may extract a single document from such a collection, and distribute it individually under this License, provided you insert a copy of this License into the extracted document, and follow this License in all other respects regarding verbatim copying of that document.

7. AGGREGATION WITH INDEPENDENT WORKS

A compilation of the Document or its derivatives with other separate and independent documents or works, in or on a volume of a storage or distribution medium, is called an "aggregate" if the copyright resulting from the compilation is not used to limit the legal rights of the compilation's users beyond what the individual works permit. When the Document is included in an aggregate, this License does not apply to the other works in the aggregate which are not themselves derivative works of the Document.

If the Cover Text requirement of section 3 is applicable to these copies of the Document, then if the Document is less than one half of the entire aggregate, the Document's Cover Texts may be placed on covers that bracket the Document within the aggregate, or the electronic equivalent of covers if the Document is in electronic form. Otherwise they must appear on printed covers that bracket the whole aggregate.

8. TRANSLATION

Translation is considered a kind of modification, so you may distribute translations of the Document under the terms of section 4. Replacing Invariant Sections with translations requires special permission from their copyright holders, but you may include translations of some or all Invariant Sections in addition to the original versions of these Invariant Sections. You may include a translation of this License, and all the license notices in the Document, and any Warranty Disclaimers, provided that you also include the original English version of this License and the original versions of those notices and disclaimers. In case of a disagreement between the translation and the original version of this License or a notice or disclaimer, the original version will prevail.

If a section in the Document is Entitled "Acknowledgements", "Dedications", or "History", the requirement (section 4) to Preserve its Title (section 1) will typically require changing the actual title.

9. TERMINATION

You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Document except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute it is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License.

However, if you cease all violation of this License, then your license from a particular copyright holder is reinstated (a) provisionally, unless and until the copyright holder explicitly and finally terminates your license, and (b) permanently, if the copyright holder fails to notify you of the violation by some reasonable means prior to 60 days after the cessation.

Moreover, your license from a particular copyright holder is reinstated permanently if the copyright holder notifies you of the violation by some reasonable means, this is the first time you have received notice of violation of this License (for any work) from that copyright holder, and you cure the violation prior to 30 days after your receipt of the notice.

Termination of your rights under this section does not terminate the licenses of parties who have received copies or rights from you under this License. If your rights have been terminated and not permanently reinstated, receipt of a copy of some or all of the same material does not give you any rights to use it.

10. FUTURE REVISIONS OF THIS LICENSE

The Free Software Foundation may publish new, revised versions of the GNU Free Documentation License from time to time. Such new versions will be similar in spirit to the present version, but may differ in detail to address new problems or concerns. See http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/.

Each version of the License is given a distinguishing version number. If the Document specifies that a particular numbered version of this License "or any later version" applies to it, you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that specified version or of any later version that has been published (not as a draft) by the Free Software Foundation. If the Document does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever published (not as a draft) by the Free Software Foundation. If the Document specifies that a proxy can decide which future versions of this License can be used, that proxy's public statement of acceptance of a version permanently authorizes you to choose that version for the Document.

11. RELICENSING

"Massive Multiauthor Collaboration Site" (or "MMC Site") means any World Wide Web server that publishes copyrightable works and also provides prominent facilities for anybody to edit those works. A public wiki that anybody can edit is an example of such a server. A "Massive Multiauthor Collaboration" (or "MMC") contained in the site means any set of copyrightable works thus published on the MMC site.

"CC-BY-SA" means the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license published by Creative Commons Corporation, a not-for-profit corporation with a principal place of business in San Francisco, California, as well as future copyleft versions of that license published by that same organization.

"Incorporate" means to publish or republish a Document, in whole or in part, as part of another Document.

An MMC is "eligible for relicensing" if it is licensed under this License, and if all works that were first published under this License somewhere other than this MMC, and subsequently incorporated in whole or in part into the MMC, (1) had no cover texts or invariant sections, and (2) were thus incorporated prior to November 1, 2008.

The operator of an MMC Site may republish an MMC contained in the site under CC-BY-SA on the same site at any time before August 1, 2009, provided the MMC is eligible for relicensing.

How to use this License for your documents

To use this License in a document you have written, include a copy of the License in the document and put the following copyright and license notices just after the title page:

Copyright (c) YEAR YOUR NAME.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3
or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;
with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.
A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU
Free Documentation License".

If you have Invariant Sections, Front-Cover Texts and Back-Cover Texts, replace the "with...Texts." line with this:

with the Invariant Sections being LIST THEIR TITLES, with the
Front-Cover Texts being LIST, and with the Back-Cover Texts being LIST.

If you have Invariant Sections without Cover Texts, or some other combination of the three, merge those two alternatives to suit the situation.

If your document contains nontrivial examples of program code, we recommend releasing these examples in parallel under your choice of free software license, such as the GNU General Public License, to permit their use in free software.