English In South Africa



The History of the English language in South Africa can be traced back to the first British occupation in 1795. English was considered to be the civilized language and the upper classes, even those from the Dutch stock used it in their everyday life. A number of British settlers also came to the Cape in 1820. The early South African academics who did not study in The Netherlands, studied in England (Oxford or Cambridge). Since the death of Cecil J. Rhodes his wealth was basically spent on anglicization of promising students - bequests were made to enable them to study in Britain. During the early occupation days, especially after the second occupation when British rule became more permanent, the language of the government, schools, legal system and business was English. Today we have the colourful choice of 11 official languages but without exception most people will opt for English as lingua franca.


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


Black South African English (BSAE), Indian English, Coloured English, Afrikaans English


Around 3 457 467 people use it as their home language in South Africa. English is also widely used in South Africa's neighbouring countries as second and third language.