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Afrikaans has been an official language of South Africa since 1925, it is also widely spoken in Namibia with smaller numbers of speakers in Botswana, Angola, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Zambia.


Afrikaans language, also called Cape Dutch, West Germanic language of South Africa, developed from 17th-century Dutch, sometimes called Netherlandic, by the descendants of European (Dutch, German, and French) colonists, indigenous Khoisan peoples, and African and Asian slaves in the Dutch colony at the Cape of Good Hope. Afrikaans and English are the only Indo-European languages among the many official languages of South Africa. Although Afrikaans is very similar to Dutch, it is clearly a separate language, differing from Standard Dutch in its sound system and its loss of case and gender distinctions.


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Afrikaans was adopted for use in schools in 1914 and in the Dutch Reformed Church in 1919. A distinct Afrikaans literature has evolved during the 20th century, and the first complete translation of the Bible into Afrikaans was published in 1933.


Afrikaans is a Low Franconian West Germanic language descended from Dutch and spoken mainly in South Africa and Namibia. There are also speakers of Afrikaans in Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, Germany, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the UK, the USA, Zambia and Zimbabwe. About 10 million people speak Afrikaans as a first or second language, and several million other have a basic knowledge of the language.


Afrikaans retains some features of 18th century Dutch, together with vocabulary from various Bantu and Khoisan languages and also from Portugese and Malay. Speakers of Afrikaans can understand Dutch, though Dutch speakers tend to need a while to tune into Afrikaans.


From about 1815 Afrikaans started to replace Malay as the language of instruction in Muslim schools in South Africa. At that time it was written with the Arabic alphabet. Afrikaans, written with the Latin alphabet, started to appeared in newspapers and political and religious works in about 1850. Then in 1875 a group of Afrikaans speakers from the Cape formed the Genootskap vir Regte Afrikaanders (Society for Real Afrikaners), and published a number of books in Afrikaans, including grammars, dictionaries, religious material and histories. They also published a journal called the Patriot.


During the early years of the 20th century there was a blossoming of academic interest in Afrikaans. In 1925 Afrikaans was recognised by the government as a real language, instead of a slang version of Dutch. Afrikaans has changed little since then.



The variety of Dutch which eventually become Afrikaans developed from the mid sixteen-hundreds and so can be called the youngest language in the world. In fact, the earliest example of Afrikaans in print did not appear until 1856.


There are now many differences from Dutch, one of the most obvious being that there is no longer any gender distinction  for nouns.  So in Afrikaans 'the man' and 'the woman' are ' die man ' and ' die vrou ' respectively - ' die ' meaning 'the'.  The gramatical structure of the language is also simpler. Afrikaans has its origins in Dutch and so it is one of the Indo-European languages (belonging to the Germanic group).  It has also taken many words from the Malay and African languages.


Regulatory body

Die Taalkommissie


Number of speakers

There are approximately six million speakers of Afrikaans the vast majority of whom live in South Africa, although nowadays it is not uncommon to hear it spoken in cities such as London due to the large amount of emigration.


Afrikaans Language on websites

Afrikaans is used by less than 0.1% of all the websites




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