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The youngest Germanic language
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
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. However, with regard to the sentiment of preservation of the language and culture, there remains an underlying tone of segregation as illustrated by the special interest groups: Afriforum; Solidariteit and the AfrikanerBond amongst others. The underlying segregationist sentiments of Afrikaner language and cultural proponents are along the lines of Hendrik Verwoerd's assertion of Apartheid as: 'Good Neighbourliness', which can be seen in the fact of the majority of Afrikaans Speakers being what, in South Africa, are called 'Coloured' people who are then represented as a minority in Afrikaans institutions and media such as the television channel KYKNET, radio RSG and newspapers like BEELD, Volksblad and magazines HUISGENOOT and ROOIROSE. What one sees then is that there is a concerted, if not wholly deliberate effort to present Afrikaans as the language of the majority of White South Africans in the same way that it had been prioritised in the 20th Century to aid the White Afrikaner Nationalism of the National Party; in its infancy in the 1910s to its introduction and preservation of Apartheid from 1948 until the introduction of the 1996 South African Constitution with its ideal of the equality of all languages.
Besides, more than half of the speakers of the language are not white and were victims of the regime's many manipulations, including ripping apart families and forcefully moving whole communities. As has been stated in the preceding paragraph, the complexity of understanding Afrikaans social presence in South Africa is dependent upon understanding what the language has been and what the attempts at it's rehabilitation are; while there remains an element of Afrikaner society that looks upon the history of Afrikaner people and the attending atrocities as something to look back upon, fondly, it is this aspect of the culture and the people that undercuts whatever is being done to disillusion afrikaans-speakers of claims of its superiority and importance over other South African languages if not English itself.
Additonally, some of the first literary works in Afrikaans were translations of holy Islamic texts by Abu Bakr Effendi that were used by the Muslim Cape slave population. Hence, the language can be equally be described as the language of the oppressed. Indeed, while there may be those who delude themselves in thinking that Afrikaans is the 'language of the oppressed', one cannot simply ignore the social environment in which 'the oppressed' came to speak Afrikaans in the first place as slaves who tried to manoeuvre their way across the Dutch language of their Slave masters. Afrikaans, then comes to be used as a way to distinguish those who created an identity out of propagating slavery and anti-equality in the Cape and further oppression down the centuries. How Afrikaans comes to be a Language in 21st Century South Africa is a fraught 200+ years history
- Several English words, such as "commando" and "aardvark", are of Afrikaans origin.
- The Arabic script has been used to write Afrikaans.
- Afrikaans is the only Indo-European language to have developed in Africa.
- Afrikaans is the most commonly used language among non-black South Africans.
On to Pronunciation!>>
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|
|b||b, p (final position)||bat, mapp||bevat|
|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||hê|
|eeu||iːu||east + took||leeu|
|g||x, g, ç||loch, golf, hue||geld|
|gh||g, k (final position)||golf, kick||gholf|
|i||i, ə||see, about||idee|
|n||n, ŋ (before c, k, q, and x)||nice, sing||van|
|ns||the n is silent, and the previous vowel is nasalized||no English approximation||Afrikaans|
|o||ɔ, oˑǝ||bog, wisdom||obligasie|
|oi||oj||row + yes||boikot|
|tj||tʃ (initial position), kj||top + shin, kick + yes||tjek|
|û||œː||no English approximation||brûe|
|uy||œy||urn + east||ly|
|w||v, w (after consonant)||visit, winter||water|
This page has 34 words and 3 sentences that you can learn
Afrikaans Les Een: The Basics
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.
|be||wees (present tense: is)|
|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...|
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 transform your English into Afrikaans and gain a few nouns to your vocabulary.
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.
|Johan||Hallo! Hoe gaan dit met jou?|
|Valerie||Dit gaan goed dankie. My naam is Valerie, en joune?|
|Johan||My naam is Johan.|
|Johan||Hello! How are you?|
|Valerie||I'm fine, thanks. My name is Valerie, and yours?|
|Johan||My name is Johan.|
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.
The subject of a sentence corresponds to who is doing the action (She loves him).
|you (singular, familiar)||jy|
The object of a sentence is who the action is directed towards (She loves him, I gave it to her).
|you (singular, familiar)||jou|
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.
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").
Translate these sentences into English.
- Jy is Johan.
- Hoe gaan dit?
- Valerie slaap.
- 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.
- You (formal) see him.
Answers to the above exercises.
- You (singular) are Johan.
- hi? (informal)
- Valerie sleeps/is sleeping.
- I see them.
- She's fine.
- I eat food.
- Ek is Sally.
- My naam is Johan.
- Julle eet dit.
- Ons slaap.
- U sien hom.
Afrikaans Les Twee: Descriptions
Definite and Indefinite Articles
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.
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.
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.
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?).
|why||hoekom / waarom|
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?
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.
|Adjectives ending in a 'g' — add a 'te'|
|Adjectives ending in 'f' — change it to two 'w's|
- "mine" - "myne"
- "yours" (singular)- "jou" or "u" (joune?)
- "his" - "sy"
- "her" - "haar"
- "our" - "ons" (onse?)
- "yours" (plural) - "julle"
- "their" - "hulle"
Afrikaans Les Drie: Nommers
With this knowledge, you can count up to twenty.
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!
| This page or section is an undeveloped draft or outline.
You can help to develop the work, or you can ask for assistance in the project room.
Here is a list of newspapers in South Africa and Namibia.
- http://www.news24.com/Beeld/Home/ - Beeld
- http://www.dieburger.com/ - Die Burger
- http://www.news24.com/Die_Volksblad/Home/0,8521,5,00.html - Volksblad
- http://www.news24.com/Rapport/Home/0,7719,752,00.html - Rapport
- http://www.dieson.co.za/ - Die son
- http://www.republikein.com.na/ -Republikein
| This page or section is an undeveloped draft or outline.
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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.
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.
"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.