Afrikaans Language

The Afrikaans language arose in the Dutch Cape Colony, through a gradual divergence from European Dutch dialects, during the course of the 18th century. As early as the mid-18th century and as recently as the mid-20th century, Afrikaans was known in standard Dutch as a “kitchen language” (Afrikaans: kombuistaal), lacking the prestige accorded, for example, even by the educational system in Africa, to languages spoken outside Africa. Other early epithets setting apart Kaaps Hollands (“Cape Dutch”, i.e. Afrikaans) as putatively beneath official Dutch standards included geradbraakt, gebroken and onbeschaafd Hollands(“mutilated/broken/uncivilised Dutch”), as well as verkeerd Nederlands (“incorrect Dutch”).

An estimated 90 to 95% of the Afrikaans lexicon is ultimately of Dutch origin,and there are few lexical differences between the two languages. Afrikaans has a considerably more regular morphology,grammar, and spelling.There is a degree of mutual intelligibility between the two languages,particularly in written form.

Afrikaans acquired some lexical and syntactical borrowings from other languages such as Malay, Khoisan languages, Portuguese,and of the Bantu languages,and Afrikaans has also been significantly influenced by South African English.Dutch speakers are confronted with fewer non-cognates when listening to Afrikaans than the other way round. Mutual intelligibility thus tends to be asymmetrical, as it is easier for Dutch speakers to understand Afrikaans than for Afrikaans speakers to understand Dutch.

In general, mutual intelligibility between Dutch and Afrikaans is better than between Dutch and Frisia or between Danish and Swedish. The South African poet writer Breyten Breytenbach, attempting to visualize the language distance for anglophones once remarked that the differences between (Standard) Dutch and Afrikaans are comparable to those between the Received Pronunciation and Southern American English.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

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