Afrikaans has more than 1 million words!

27 September 2017

The core and heartbeat of Afrikaans can be found in its variants, dialects and regional languages. The language we cherish originates in its rich and diverse history. That is why the often marginalised and neglected Afrikaans dialects and their inclusion in the display windows of the language are of the utmost importance. Hence the appeal to variant speakers to write down their words so that these words can be incorporated into Afrikaans dictionaries.

About Afrikaans and its dictionaries

There are many bilingual and explanatory dictionaries in Afrikaans. We are also in the fortunate position that we have a publication such as the Afrikaanse Woordelys en Spelreëls (AWS) – a comprehensive resource instructing users on how to use Afrkaans correctly. Some of the best known explanatory dictionaries in Afrikaans is the Handwoordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal (HAT) and the Woordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal (WAT).

  • Afrikaans boasts a cyber dictionary (kuberwoordeboek) with many neologisms, e.g. sleutelprop (dongle), kammalopie (dry run) and blêrkas (jukebox).
  • The first HAT was published in 1965.
  • The HAT is almost 9 cm thick and comprises 1 636 pages.
  • The HAT contains 2,1 million words.
  • The HAT is also available online . Subscribers have access to the HAT Afrikaanse Skoolwoordeboek, the Longman-HAT Engels-Afrikaans/Afrikaans-Engelse Skoolwoordeboek and the HAT Taalgids (language guide) and HAT Feitegids (fact guide).
  • The WAT project was started in 1926.
  • At present the WAT comprises 14 volumes: from A to SKOOI.
  • In the end there will be three volumes of “S” – each comprising appoximately 600 to 700 pages.
  • The WAT contains appoximately 210 000 words and phrases, i.e. vocabulary from written and spoken language, as well as the various variants of the language.
  • The WAT is accessible to 300 000 students at South African universities and is used as electronic resource in the teaching of Afrikaans at school. They offer a free language service.
  • If you have language questions, you can get help here
  • VivA Woordeboekportaal-app (VivA’s Dictionary portal app) has been developed for Android and iOS and can be accessed for free on your smartphone or tablet.
  • PharosAanlyn (Pharos Online) is an online dictionary portal with general, technical and specialist disctionaries and is a comprehensive reference resource for anyone who wishes to communicate effectively in Afrikaans, English and other languages.
  • For a list of printed *Afrikaans-foreign language dictionaries, click here.
  • For a list of *Afrikaans terminology and specialist dictionaries, click here.
  • On Wikipedia the longest word in Afrikaans (according to the TOTAL Book of SA Records) is apparantly: Hottentottensoldatetentoonstellingstoegangskaartjieknipapparaatbedieningsmeganismehersteller (98 letters).
  • The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. To this may be added around 9,500 derivative words included as subentries.
  • A valuable contribution to multilingualism is the dictionary Ouma Geelmeid teaches N|uu, about the dialect of the Khomani San. Explanations and words are in Afrikaans and English.

Read more about the HAT and WAT here.
Dictionary for your cellphone – VivA-app.

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