Afrikaans is a West Germanic language spoken in South Africa, Namibia and, to a lesser extent, Botswana and Zimbabwe. It evolved from the Hollandic dialect of Dutch spoken by the mainly Dutch settlers of what is now South Africa, where it gradually began to develop distinguishing characteristics in the course of the 18th century. Afrikaans was previously referred to as "Cape Dutch" or with the derogatory term "kitchen Dutch". However, it is also variously described as a creole or as a partially creolised language. The term is ultimately derived from Dutch Afrikaans-Hollands meaning "African Dutch". It is the first language of most of the Afrikaners and Coloureds of Southern Africa.

An estimated 90 to 95% of Afrikaans vocabulary is of Dutch origin while a significant number of words are adopted from German and Khoisan languages. Consequently, major differences occur in morphology and grammar with spelling reflecting the pronunciation of Afrikaans rather than Dutch. There is a large degree of mutual intelligibility between the two languages—especially in written form.

Afrikaans is the third-most-popular language in South Africa with about 7 million speakers (13.5% of the population). It is the majority language of the western half of South Africa—the provinces of the Northern Cape and Western Cape—and the first language of 75.8% of Coloured South Africans (3.4 million people), 60.8% of White South Africans (2.7 million) and at 4.6% the second most spoken first-language among Asian South Africans (58,000).

Orthography Edit

The writing system of Afrikaans uses the Latin alphabet along with some diacritics for vowels. Below are the letters, diacritics, and some digraphs and trigraphs:

Letter Sound Diacritic Sound Grapheme Sound
a /a/ ê /ɛː/, /e/ aa /ɑː/
b /b/ î /əː/ ch /ʃ/, /x/, /k/
c /s/, /k/ ô /ɔː/ dj /d͡ʒ/
d /d/ û /œː/ ee /ɪə/
e /ɛ/, /ə/ eeu /iːu/
f /f/ eu /ɪø/
g /x/ gh /g/
h /ɦ/ i /i/
i /i/ ng /ŋ/
j /j/ oei /ui/
k /k/ oo /ʊə/
l /l/ ooi /oːi/
m /m/ ou /ɵu/
n /n/ sj /ʃ/
o /ɔ/ tj /tʃ/, /k/
p /p/ uu /yː/
q /k/
r /r/
s /s/
t /t/
u /œ/
v /f/
w /v/
x /ks/
y /əi/
z /z/

The characters ⟨ë⟩ and ⟨ï⟩ also exist with the same pronunciation as the vowels without the diaeresis. This indicates that the vowel begins a new syllable.

Grammar Edit

The grammar of Afrikaans is derived from and is similar to Dutch's, though some differences are present as a result of creolization.

Word Order Edit

Main clauses use a V2 word order, meaning the finite verb is always in the second position:

Ek sien die hond
I see the dog

Non-finite verbs will appear at the end of the clause:

Ek wil die hond sien
I want the dog see
"I want to see the dog"

A frequently used — though not mandatory — template for basic sentences is given in the acronym STOMPI (Subject Time Object Manner Place Infinitive). With verbs included, the acronym is sometimes S(v1)TOMP(v2)I. An example is given here:

Ek wil vanmiddag die hond 'n been gee
I want this afternoon the dog a bone give
"I want to give the dog a bone this afternoon"

The subject is Ek. The finite verb is wil. The time is vanmiddag. The object is die hond ('n been). The infinitive is gee.

Dependent clauses Edit

In a dependent clause, the finite verb is moved to the end of the clause:

Dit is die seun wat 'n bal het
This is the boy that a ball has
"This is the boy that has a ball"

Questions Edit

In a question, the subject and finite verb switch positions:

Drink jy koffie?
Drink you coffee
"Do you drink coffee?"

Non-finite verbs are still located at the end of the clause:

Wil jy koffie drink?
Want you coffee drink
"Do you want to drink coffee?"

Interrogatives are placed at the beginning when they introduce a question (as in English):

Hoekom drink jy koffie
Why drink you coffee
"Why do you drink coffee?"

Imperative Edit

In an imperative, the finite verb is located at the beginning of the sentence:

Gee my die boek
Give me the book

Negatives Edit

Afrikaans uses double negation. The marker nie is used to indicate negation. In a clause with a subject and verb but no object, only one negator is required:

Ek weet nie
I know not

If there is an object, only one negator is required if the object is a pronoun. Otherwise, two negators are required with the first coming after the verb:

Ek ken hom nie
I know him not
"I do not know him"
Ek ken nie Liam nie
I know not Liam not
"I do not know Liam"

Negated subjects still require an ending nie:

Niemand is hier nie
Nobody is here not
"Nobody is here"

When a modal is used, nie is used before the infinitive and at the end:

Sy sal dit nie eet nie
She will that not eat not
"She will not eat that"

Nouns Edit

Nouns in Afrikaans do not have gender and inflect only for number. Most nouns are pluralized by adding s or e to the end. Pronouns do inflect for case.

Adjectives Edit

Many adjectives in Afrikaans inflect based on their position by adding the ending e. An adjective can take the ending if it is used attributively (directly modifying the noun). Almost all adjectives with more than one syllable inflect this way. Monosyllabic adjectives inflect based on their endings:

Die kat is vinnig
The cat is fast

In this sentence, the adjective vinnig does not inflect as it is used predicatively.

Die vinnige kat
The fast cat

In this phrase, the adjective inflects as it is used attributively.

Verbs Edit

Almost all verbs have the same present and infinitive form, the exceptions being wees ("to be") and hê ("to have"). Verbs do not conjugate to match the subject. Almost all verbs use the perfect tense for the past which usually consists of adding the prefix ge to the verb stem, exceptions including modals and wees.

Resources Edit

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Germanic Languages
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