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Dutch Vader of Afrikaans

Week 23, Episode 45

Despite its name, Afrikaans, the language is a close relative not of Swahili or Zulu, but of Dutch, German and English. In fact, "Afrikaans" is a Dutch word for "African" that makes it obvious who Afrikaans' vader (father) is.

Considered first as a Dutch dialect, after years and years of "brewing" in close connection with a distinct linguistic ambient, Afrikaans acquired some specific pecularities in its structure and vocabulary which make it classify as an African language indeed.

The formation of the language started in 1652 in a small Dutch settlement on the Cape Peninsula designed to provide the Dutch ships heading for the South-East Asia with water and food. But it was recognized as a real (read other than just a slang version of Dutch) language only in 1925!

So there you have it: Afrikaans—African language of Dutch origin.

Those who speak Dutch can understand Afrikaans speakers, and vice versa, though this task is easier for the first ones as Dutch has more complicated grammar and sounds. In the category of mutual intelligibility the two languages are actually much closer than Swedish and Danish are, for example.

Up to 95% of Afrikaans vocabulary, though spelled reflexing Afrikaans pronunciation rather than standard Dutch, comes from its "parent." Compare Afrikaans pampoen (pahm-poon) with Dutch pompoen (pom-poon) for "pumpkin", or krap (krah-b) and krab (krah-p) respectively for "crab", or taal (taah-l) in both cases for "language." The pronunciation normally slightly differs, but words are basically the same.

Check for yourself the connection between these two taals:

  • English: I am your father.
  • German: Ich bin dein Vater.
  • Danish: Jeg er din fader.
  • Dutch: Ik ben je vader.
  • Afrikaans: Ek is jou Vader.

Isn't it obvious which one is the closest to Afrikaans?

Inspired by the upcoming Father's day, in this episode we've discovered Dutch Vader of the Afrikaans language. More shocking news?

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