afrikaans



afrikaans defined in 1939 year

afrikaans - Afrikaans;
afrikaans - The home language of some sixty per cent of South Africa's European population. It is a direct, spontaneous, and unbroken development from the Dutch spoken in the province of Holland of the Netherlands three centuries ago. It differs from modern Dutch in that it has far fewer inflexions, less conjugation, no grammatical genders, and a simplified spelling, but especially in having its own homegrown idiom of the ox-wagon and the veld, as against that of the ship and the market-place. In the course of its growth Afrikaans has made a good many foreign words its own, but its vocabulary remains more than ninety per cent Dutch. Consider, for instance, the Dutch Dat heb ik nooit kunnen denken as against the Afrikaans Dit het ek nooit kon dink nie, for "I should never have thought that"; and De geest is gewillig maar het vlees is zwak is, in Afrikaans, Die gees is gewillig maar die vlees is swak—"The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak."

The agreement between Afrikaans and Dutch is not always as close as it seems, because a particular Dutch word may have changed its meaning by being put to a new use in South African circumstances. So for instance the Dutch beest may be an animal or insect, while the Afrikaans bees refers only to cattle. And the Dutch meid means very much what "maid" means in English, but in Afrikaans it is used exclusively of a coloured servant-girl. Put shortly, Afrikaans is not so much a simplified version of Dutch as a more analytic development from the same Old West Nether-Frankish dialect.

Afrikaans became a separate language about two centuries ago, but became generally known by that name only when Die Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners (The Society of True Afrikaners) was formed in 1875, and began publishing the monthly Die Afrikaanse Patriot. The champions of Afrikaans had to contend with opposition from Dutch as well as English from the very start, and its rights, whether constitutional or practical, have been political issues ever since. This accounts for the missionary zeal of Afrikaans writers and the comparative immensity of their output. After the South African War the cause of Afrikaans was taken up by J. H. H. de Waal, D. F. Malherbe, G. S. Preller (founder of the Afrikaanse Taalgenootskap in 1906) and Engine Marais, whose brilliant poem Die Winternag (The Winter Night) had appeared in 1905, and who was presently to gain an international reputation with his Die Siel van die Mier (The Soul of the Ant). Winternag was followed by an even greater piece of poetry in 1906—Jan Colliers' Die Vlakte (The Plain).

But the man who really taught the Afrikaner to read was C. J. Langenhoven, who thought at first that the cause of Afrikaans was lost, but later made magnificent amends by achieving for it an official status as the medium of instruction supplanting Dutch in the lower forms of the Cape Provincial schools. That was in 1914, and in the same year the Orange Free State and the Transvaal provincial councils followed suit. Largely because of his efforts Afrikaans became—instead of Dutch and equally with English —an official language of the Union in 1925. Since Langen-hoven's death in 1932 both his further ambitions have been realized: the translation of the Bible was completed in 1933, and the Afrikaans Hymnary in 1944.

Langeuhoven's work was, and is being, carried on by D. F. Malherbe, Leipoldt, A. G. Visser, C. M. van den Heever, Joggem van Bruggen, "Sangiro," the Hobson brothers, P. de V. Pienaar, Hettie Smit, and A. H. Jonker, and the poets W. E. G. Louw, N. P. van Wyk Lomv, I. D. du Plessis, Uys Krige, Elisabeth Eybcrs, and a good many others.

Consult Professor J. J. Smith's authoritative article on the origin of Afrikaans in the Official Union Year Book for 1925; The Achievement of Afrikaans, by T. J. Haarhoff; and, in Afrikaans, E. C. Pienaar's Die Triomf van Afrikaans. By Jan Tromp.

near afrikaans in Knolik


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