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15 Facts And History About The Afrikaans Language

Afrikaans is one of the official languages of South Africa and Namibia. It stems from a rich and diverse culture and it has more than 7 million people speaking this language in South Africa alone.

History and origin

The language was established in the 17th century by the descendants of European colonists, Khoisan people, African, and Asian slaves. It was established as a need to communicate across different cultures. This is why, even though it is mainly Dutch, it also has been influenced by other languages as well. 

It was around 1866 that Afrikaans got its name. A teacher from a Dutch school, Arnoldus Pannevis figured that there was a difference between this and the Dutch language so gave it this name. 

15 great facts about the Afrikaans language

Let’s look at some of the facts related to the Afrikaans language.

1. Afrikaans is known as the youngest language in the world. This is because it was only made official and deemed as a real language in 1925.

2. While there are about more than 7000 languages spoken worldwide, Afrikaans is recognized as the 140th largest language in the world. This is quite astonishing given that it is a young language.

3. It is part of the reason why South Africa has 11 official languages.

4. Afrikaans is considered as the 3rd largest language in South Africa. This places right after the top two languages spoken in South Africa, Xhosa and Zulu.

5. It is one of the 5 languages that are used as the official language of instruction at the school level. This was established in 1914 and continues to hold until now. 

6. Since the language stems from Dutch, it is often recognized as the Dutch “daughter” language given its history. 

7. Afrikaans may be considered to be mainly simplified Dutch, but it has also been influenced by different languages including Malay, Portuguese, German, Scottish, and many more languages. One of the key ones was the Khoisan language that is now almost extinct.

8. Afrikaans was only spoken and didn’t have any written symbols for it earlier on. This changed mainly after the mid 19th century. 

9. While approximately 7 million people speak Afrikaans in South Africa and Namibia, there are around 23 million speakers of this language all over the world. 

10. Most people that speak Afrikaans aren’t white today and whites only makeup 40% of the ratio. The rest of it includes black people and also people of mixed races. 

11. Afrikaans was considered slang or an informal language before it was made official.

12. It has been proven that Afrikaans speakers speak Dutch better than the Dutch-speakers themselves. 

13. The first Afrikaans schools to be developed were Muslim and evidence shows that the Cape Malay dialect was used for textbooks. 

14. Afrikaans literature covers different spheres and genre and can be compared to some of the best literature in the world.  

15. Afrikaans is a very simple and easy language to learn. 

Afrikaans is a language that is full of diverse culture and that is what makes it fun to learn. If you’re looking for a new language to learn, then Afrikaans should be one of the possible choices given its validity! 

Johannesburg, South Africa

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