World Languages: Languages index
   Most spoken
   By country
   North American
   South American
   The Canopy
   Forest Floor
   Forest Waters
   Indigenous People
   Saving Rainforests
   Country Profiles
   Works Cited
 Deforestation Stats
 Site Map
 Mongabay Sites
   Animal Photos
   Travel Tips
   Tropical Fish

Afrikaans language resources

Afrikaans is spoken on a daily basis in: South Africa, Botswana Afrikaans--> --> --> -->

Additional background on Afrikaans

Afrikaans is a Low Franconian language mainly spoken in South Africa and Namibia with smaller numbers of speakers in Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Due to the emigration of many Afrikaners, there are an additional estimated 300,000 Afrikaans-speakers in the United Kingdom[citation needed], with other substantial communities found in Perth, Australia; Toronto, Canada; and Auckland, New Zealand. It is the primary language used by two related ethnic groups: the Afrikaners and the Coloureds or kleurlinge / bruinmense (including Basters, Cape Malays and Griqua). These two groups are collectively known as Afrikaanses, roughly meaning "the language community of Afrikaans-speakers". It is also spoken as a first language by many Tswana people in South Africa's North West Province.

Some Afrikaans speakers do not consider themselves either Afrikaners or Coloureds, but simply Afrikaans-speaking South African.[citation needed] Geographically, the Afrikaans language is the majority language of the western one-third of South Africa (Northern and Western Cape, spoken at home by 69% and 58%, respectively). It is also the largest first language in the adjacent southern one-third of Namibia (Hardap and Karas, where it is the first language of 43% and 41%, respectively). It is the most widely used second language throughout both of these countries for the population as a whole, although the younger generation has better proficiency in English.

The name Afrikaans is simply the Dutch word for African, i.e. the African form of the Dutch language. The dialect became known as "Cape Dutch". Later, Afrikaans was sometimes also referred to as "African Dutch" or "Kitchen Dutch", although some now consider these terms pejorative. Afrikaans was considered a Dutch dialect until the late 19th century, when it began to be recognised as a distinct language, and it gained equal status with Dutch and English as an official language in South Africa in 1925. Dutch remained an official language until the new 1961 constitution finally stipulated the two official languages in South Africa to be Afrikaans and English (although, curiously, the 1961 constitution still had a sub-clause stipulating that the word "Afrikaans" was also meant to be referring to the Dutch language). The 1925 decision led Dutch to enter disuse and be replaced by Afrikaans for all purposes.

There are basically three dialects, of which the northeastern variant (which developed into a literary language in the Transvaal) forms the basis of the written standard. Within the Dutch-speaking zones of the Netherlands, Belgium and Suriname, there is greater divergence among the dialects than there is between standard Dutch and standard Afrikaans. Although Afrikaans knows some typical Hollandic tones, there particularly exist striking similarities between Afrikaans and Zeeuws (the dialect of the Zeeland province of the Netherlands which has also similarities with West Flemish). Zeeland is a coastal province of the Netherlands and most of the Dutch spoken in former Dutch colonies is very much influenced by Zeeuws/the Zeeland dialect as many people from Zeeland were involved in The Netherlands' emperial/colonial expansion.

It was originally the dialect that developed among the Afrikaner Protestant settlers and the indentured or slave workforce brought to the Cape area in southwestern South Africa by the Dutch East India Company (Dutch: Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie VOC, Afrikaans: Nederlandse Oos-Indiese Kompanjie - NOIK) between 1652 and 1705. A relative majority of these first settlers were from the United Provinces (now Netherlands), though there were also many from Germany, a considerable number from France, and some from Norway, Portugal, Scotland, and various other countries. The indentured workers and slaves were South Indians, Malays, and Malagasy in addition to the indigenous Khoi and Bushmen.


What are the most spoken languages on earth?

All data is derived from UNESCO.


  • Most spoken
  • By country
  • People
  • African
  • Asian
  • North American
  • Pacific
  • South American

  • Mission
  • Introduction
  • Characteristics
  • Biodiversity
  • The Canopy
  • Forest Floor
  • Forest Waters
  • Indigenous People
  • Deforestation
  • Consequences
  • Saving Rainforests
  • Country Profiles
  • Works Cited
  • Deforestation Stats

    For kids
    Tropical fish

  • what's new | tropical fish | help support the site | search | about | contact

    Copyright Rhett Butler 2005-2013