Facts about Afrikaans
How many people can I interact with when I learn Afrikaans?
Afrikaans has over twelve million speakers.
About 6.4 million people speak this language as their mother tongue - and about the same number have learned Afrikaans as a second language.
Where is Afrikaans spoken?
The majority of Afrikaans speakers live in South Africa. Afrikaans is an official language there, along with ten other languages.
Many speakers also live in neighbouring countries: Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Lesotho.
Afrikaans - a "young" language
From a linguistic point of view, Afrikaans is a rather "young" language. Its emergence did not begin until the 17th century, when Dutch colonists at the Cape of Good Hope began to build a supply station for the Dutch East India Company.
The Dutch settlers naturally brought their language with them into the country. However, this changed so much in the following years that it could soon be regarded as a language in its own right, which was henceforth spoken in South Africa.
Although many words in Afrikaans come from the imported source language, Dutch, many other languages have also left their mark. For example, the different Bantu and Khoisan languages of the indigenous people of South Africa have had a significant influence on the vocabulary of the new language.
The settlers at the Cape of Good Hope were constantly expanding their territories. In order to order ever larger settlement areas, they took slaves from present-day Indonesia, Madagascar and Angola. These slaves spoke Malay or some kind of Creole Portuguese. Both languages also found their way into the vocabulary of the emerging Afrikaans.
In 1806, the British conquered South Africa and established a colony of the British Crown, which was followed by English, which was already widely used in South Africa.
In 1875 the "Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners" was founded, the "Society of Upright Africans", which among other things made it its goal to raise the status of Afrikaans in society and to establish the language as a written language. In the year following the foundation of the society, the first newspaper appeared in Afrikaans. This was followed by literary publications and the first works on African grammar.
With the founding of the South African Union, Afrikaans became the official language of the country and has remained so to this day.
Special Features of Afrikaans and Differences to Dutch
Differences between Dutch and Afrikaans can be found at several levels:
Generally speaking, there have been many simplifications in Afrikaans throughout its development.
The pronunciation and spelling in Afrikaans has evolved and simplified from Dutch. For a German, Afrikaans may be a little easier to learn (compared to Dutch), because the spelling of Afrikaans is strongly pronunciation-oriented and the same applies vice versa.
Other differences can be found in the vocabulary: During its development, many other languages have influenced Afrikaans: German and English were brought along by European settlers, Malay and Portuguese were spoken by slaves in South Africa, and many Bantu and Khoisan languages were already present when the Dutch established their settlements in the Cape.
But most of the differences can be found by juxtaposing the grammar of both languages. For example, Afrikaans has experienced a complete disappearance of the flexion of verbs. In Dutch, on the other hand, the verbs are bent.
Another special feature of Afrikaans is the double negation. As a rule, a negative sentence in Afrikaans is always concluded with a never. Furthermore, the parts of the sentence to which the negation refers are often marked with their own pronoun of negation. The result is a double negation, typical for Afrikaans.
Ek is never getroud never.
literally: I'm not married, not married. / I'm not married.
Ek praat geen Afrikaans never.
verbatim: I don't speak Afrikaans / I don't speak Afrikaans.