Afrikaans is a West Germanic language spoken in South Africa, Namibia, and to a lesser extent, Botswana and Zimbabwe. It evolved from the Dutch vernacular of South Holland 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. Hence, it is a daughter language of Dutch, and was previously referred to as "Cape Dutch" (a term also used to refer collectively to the early Cape settlers) or "kitchen Dutch" (a derogatory term used to refer to Afrikaans in its earlier days). The term is ultimately derived from Dutch "Afrikaans-Hollands" meaning "African Dutch". It is the first language of most of the Afrikaner and Coloured people of Southern Africa.

Although Afrikaans has adopted words from other languages, including Portuguese, the Bantu languages, Malay, German and the Khoisan languages, an estimated 90 to 95% of Afrikaans vocabulary is of Dutch origin. Therefore, differences with Dutch often lie in the more analytic morphology and grammar of Afrikaans, and a spelling that expresses Afrikaans pronunciation rather than standard Dutch. There is a large degree of mutual intelligibility between the two languages—especially in written form.

Estimates of the total number of Afrikaans-speakers in the early 21st century range between 15 and 23 million.

Afrikaans in The Guns of the SouthEdit

A foreign language was used in private by the mysterious men of America Will Break. Confederate people who overheard this language believed it was German, or perhaps Dutch.[1] However, following the Richmond Massacre, the AWB headquarters was raided, and documents written in this language were seized by the government. Interpreter Avram Goldfarb, a native of Germany who had done business in Holland, found the writing to be intelligible but not identifiable as any legitimate tongue. He believed it to be a "mishmash" of languages, written by madmen.[2]


  1. The Guns of the South, several passages.
  2. Ibid, p. 462-464.

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