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Afrikaans as a Language

By March 5, 2020January 27th, 2023FinGlobal

Afrikaans as a Language

March 5, 2020


There are few languages on this planet that can be quite so satisfying or gratifying as Afrikaans – and that’s a fact! Afrikaans is a West-Germanic language most prominent in South Africa and it’s also jam-packed with “kragwoorde” that just seem to “hit the spot” when it comes to expressing yourself. What could be more satisfying than saying a good old fashioned “bliksem” or “donner” when things just aren’t going as planned? What could be more hilarious than a funny Afrikaans song – Mphe Die Hoender by Robbie Wessels comes to mind! Would this very song in any other language be the same? Definitely not!

Yup, Afrikaans is the language we love, and if you find yourself recently (or even for a long time now) an expat of SA, you might miss hearing your Mother Tongue. Don’t worry, there’s a lot more where that came from. There’s an entire nation of millions of people still speaking your language and many books, movies, series, and documentaries that you can use to get your Afrikaans fix.


Where does Afrikaans come from – The History of Afrikaans

Afrikaans is an interesting language in that it did not strictly come from another country. It certainly has elements of Dutch in it as it was largely spoken by the Dutch settlers to South Africa, but over the years in the 18th Century, it changed and morphed into the beautiful language it is today from elements of the Dutch settlers and the native Africans who were working with, and communicating with, the settlers at the time. Because of this, Afrikaans is often called “a daughter language” of Dutch. That’s got a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?


Afrikaans – The Facts!

An article dedicated to Afrikaans could go on and on about the history, dialects, tenses, verbs and so on, but where’s the fun in that? Without wanting to waffle on too much, let’s take a quick look at a snapshot of some of the more interesting facts surrounding Afrikaans. Here they are:

  • Afrikaans is one of the youngest languages in the world (high-five Afrikaans!).
  • Afrikaans was only recognized in 1925 as an official language of South Africa.
  • Until the 19th century, Afrikaans was only a spoken language and not a written language.
  • There are over 7000 languages in the world and Afrikaans is noted as the 140th largest language. Nearly 7 million people currently speak Afrikaans.
  • Afrikaans is South Africa’s third-largest language.
  • There are only 5 languages in the world that were able to develop to a high level academic language in the 20th Century, and Afrikaans is one of them. Makes you fluster with pride, doesn’t it?!
  • It’s not only South African’s that understand Afrikaans. Apparently 24 million people in the world can understand the language and they are typically people from countries with similar languages or with a big SA expat community. These include Netherlands, Argentina, Botswana, Belgium, Surinam, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

The Uniqueness of Afrikaans

Afrikaans is not just a way of communicating. It’s a language that is deeply ingrained in us as South Africans. And it really doesn’t matter where you end up; Afrikaans will always be coursing through your veins.

Our language is also vastly unique because it speaks to our culture in South Africa. Because Afrikaans is so expressive and emotive, there’s no way you can live and work in another country without taking a piece of that unique influence with you. What does that mean? The next time you plan a gathering with your new friends, are you inviting them over for a “braai” or a “barbecue”? I think we all know the answer to that one!

Afrikaans is an expressive language – there’s no denying that. Just saying simple things like “I love you” in Afrikaans (“Ek het jou lief”) is just so interestingly satisfying. That said; let’s take a quick look at some Afrikaans words and phrases that you could teach to your new circle of friends, in your new home country.

“Have a good day” in Afrikaans: Geniet die dag “Please” in Afrikaans: Asseblief
“Country” in Afrikaans: Land “Good” in Afrikaans: Goed
“Bad” in Afrikaans: Slegte “Good afternoon” in Afrikaans: Goeiemiddag
“Information” in Afrikaans: Inligting “Interesting” in Afrikaans: Interessant
“Additional” in Afrikaans: Addisionele “Remind” in Afrikaans: Herinner
“Fun” in Afrikaans: Pret “Really” in Afrikaans: Werklik
“Because” in Afrikaans: Omdat “I love you too” in Afrikaans: Ek is lief vir jou ook
“Good night” in Afrikaans: Goeienag “Want” in Afrikaans: Wil
“How are you?” in Afrikaans: Hoe gaan dit? “Barbecue” in Afrikaans: Braai


And just for fun here are a few Afrikaans words with interesting (and sometimes hilarious) English literal translations.

Afrikaans word Direct translation Actual meaning
Keelvol Full throat Sick of it all
Kattekwaad Cats anger Getting up to no good
Papbroek Flat pants Coward
Springmielies Jumping corn Popcorn
Trapsuutjie Step softly Chameleon
Padkos Road food Southern African snacks and provisions for a journey
Verkykers Far lookers Binoculars
Ystervark Iron pig Porcupine

Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Afrikaans words and phrases.  

If you really want to impress people, you could try teaching them the longest Afrikaans word, which according to the The Total Book of South African Records is “tweedehandsemotorverkoopsmannevakbondstakingsvergaderingsameroeperstoespraakskrywerspersverklaringuitreikingsmediakonferensieaankondiging”.

Yup, that’s a whopping 136 letters and translates to “issuable media conference’s announcement at a press release regarding the convener’s speech at a second-hand car dealership union’s strike meeting”. This might not have much relevance in your life, but it’s still impressive nonetheless!


Last Word

If you’re proud of your heritage and where you come from, and if you are having a bit of homesickness, speak your language loud and proud. Just by being proud of your heritage and Afrikaans culture, you could be helping to spread it even further too!

FinGlobal: Financial Emigration Specialists

At FinGlobal, we speak your language. While you’re settling into your new home country, we are standing by to help you with all those pesky tax emigrations and financial emigration processes that are often so complicated, it’s like speaking another language! We offer premier financial and emigration advice and guidance. With the help of dedicated FinGlobal consultants, your transition will be seamless and your expat financial needs with be met effectively and affordably. For assistance with all things expat finance-related, contact us today. Simply give us a call or send us an email so that one of our consultants can assist you further.





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