Sherbet man, Afrikaans is Lekker! Without it, a part of our heritage would be lost. Think about it ...

01 Augustus 2017

Afrikaans is dynamic and it’s here to stay. Like the ‘toddler’ it is, it is full of wonder and curiosity. It’s growing and adapting to be more inclusive of the world around it. Without it, a part of our heritage would be lost. Think about it ...

Regardless of how long you stay in South Africa, you will be treated to the fascinating fusion of languages that dot our everyday life. None more so than the emotive and often guttural sounds of Afrikaans. The cup of coffee you made was met with a grateful, “Lekkerrrr!” (nice). Your story about having a piece of toilet paper stuck to your shoe provoked an, “Ag shame, man!” (sorry to hear that). Then there was the time you met a girl in that pub in Margate and you were just about to kiss her when her boyfriend came running in to “wat kyk jy boet” (we think you can guess this one.)

Afrikaans language is like the saying: ‘Aging is not lost on youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength’

Afrikaans is an expressive, home-grown language. One of the youngest Germanic languages in the world, it was born from Dutch vernacular in the 16th century. It may be young, but it is growing faster than you can say “blits”.

New words are being added faster than printed dictionaries can be revised. The language is catching up, growing up and trailblazing. Have you been watching ‘epic fails’ on YouTube? Then you were indulging in ‘kraterflaters’ (literally crater blunders). Or maybe your wife picked up a rotisserie chicken on the way home? That’s called a ‘draaibraai’ (literally turning barbecue).

While local may be lekker – Afrikaans is spoken all over the world

Ever heard a Russian speak fluent Afrikaans? How about a Pole? Afrikaans is making a name for itself worldwide. You will find it being studied at universities in the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Poland, Russia and America. Six Russian students visited South Africa in February 2017 by invitation from the FAK to study here and experience Afrikaans in its birthplace. Their enthusiasm for the preservation of the language is refreshing and a confirmation that Afrikaans has nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, we can be proud!

Afrikaans sluit wêrelde oop ... (Afrikaans opens worlds).

Ask an expat anywhere and they will tell you that they relish the times they are able to speak their mother tongue. Even if it is to gossip about unsuspecting Englishmen! In South African pubs and clubs offshore, bands like Die Heuwels Fantasties and singer Steve Hofmeyr entertain homesick crowds. And not just native Afrikaans speakers. English-speaking South Africans too are happy to be able to use the word “bakkie” (pickup truck) without being stared at as if they hail from another planet.

Afrikaans is as diverse as our rich culture in South Africa.

Different dialects and accents make for interesting conversation. In the Cape, you will hear “eksê my bra” (I say, my brother) and in Durban their “lekker” sounds more like “lekkuh”. In Johannesburg a young lady could be called “skattie” and in Cape Town “bok”. See a “koedoe” on your game drive? Did you know that the word comes from the Khoi language?

Afrikaaps @ the kykNet Fiesta Awards 2011

Cape Slang 101

Cape Town is such a mix of different cultures and languages, therefore it’s a given that the city would have its very own “language” or slang. And boy, Cape Town’s slang is unique and the most popular Cape slang words are …. believe it … Afrikaans!

The Language Teaching Centre in Cape Town gives us a lesson:

  • Ag (ah-ch): To show resignation or annoyance. Example: “Ag no man!”
  • Awê (ah-weh): a greeting. Example: “Awê, brother!”
  • Babbelas (bah-bah-luss): Hungover. Comes from the Zulu word “i-babalazi” which means drunk. The term was adopted by the Afrikaans and is now used as a term for “hangover. Example: “I am so babbelas!”
  • Bergie (bear-ghee): Comes from the Afrikaans word “berg” (mountain) and was initially used to describe the vagrants living on Table Mountain. The word is now used in Cape Town to describe any type of vagrant. Example: “That bergie is asking for money.”

Learn more here ...

Afrikaans is dynamic and it’s here to stay. Like the ‘toddler’ it is, it is full of wonder and curiosity. It’s growing and adapting to be more inclusive of the world around it. Without it, a part of our heritage would be lost. Think about it… Without Afrikaans, iconic South African phrases like “now-now” and “just now” wouldn’t even exist. And how would we ever know when something was going to happen if we didn’t have those two phrases? Music would not be the same without the guilty pleasures of “Pampoen”, “Kaptein” and “Skarumba”. And don’t you dare touch our “braai”…