Afrikaans in South Africa


History of Afrikaans

The language Afrikaans has its roots in seventeenth century Dutch but it has been influenced by many languages including: English, Malay, German, Portuguese, French and some African languages. Some of the first written work in Afrikaans was done using the Arabic alphabet in the work Bayaan-ud-djyn written by Abu Bakr. Apart from this development and minor writings in so-called Cape Dutch Afrikaans acted mainly as a spoken language for people living in the Cape and Dutch was used as the formal and written language. On 14 August 1875 the GRA, an organization that promoted the Afrikaans language, was formed by Rev. S.J. Du Toit. By this though the language was spoken by many people of different races and ethnic groups throughout Southern Africa.

The first complete translation of the Bible into Afrikaans was made in 1933. According to Act 8 of 1925 of South Africa it became the official language (incorporated with Dutch) together with English. The language was promoted alongside Afrikaner nationalism after 1948 and played an important role in minority white rule in Apartheid South Africa. The usage of Afrikaans in schools was one of the reasons for the 1976 Soweto uprising. With the new constitution of South Africa (1996) it was again accepted as one of the official languages of South Africa.

It is important to note that Afrikaans is spoken by all races and ethnic groups in South Africa and much has been done in recent years to promote varieties of this language that were suppressed during the years of Apartheid.


Family: Indo-European Group: Germanic Subgroup: West Germanic

VARIETIES of Afrikaans:

Eastern Cape Afrikaans (Oosgrensafrikaans - which became Standard Afrikaans), Cape Afrikaans (Kaapse Afrikaans) and Orange River Afrikaans (Oranjerivierafrikaans).

Afrikaans Speakers

Around 5 811 547 people use Afrikaans as their home language in South Africa. The language is also spoken in the Republic of Namibia as well as by some South Africans living and working in the United Kingdom, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.