The term Afrikaans can be used as a noun or as an adjective.
As a Noun
As a noun is refers to the language Afrikaans (literally "the language of Africa"). It is one of the 11 official languages in South Africa and is derived from 17th century Dutch, English, French and many of the indigenous African languages, as well as words languages brought to the Cape by workers from the Dutch East Indies. Initially considered an inferior slang or creole type language, scathingly referred to as "Kitchen Dutch", or more formally as Cape Dutch and Kaaps-Hollands, it gradually became accepted and in 1925 became an official language of the country. (See the Afrikaanse Taalstryd ("Afrikaans Language Struggle".)
It is today spoken to some degree by an estimated total of 15 to 23 million people in South Africa and Namibia, and is the mother tongue of at least 4 million.
Though it is often considered one of the key identifying markers used to identify the so-called "Afrikaners", but is not no means exclusively spoken by that group, but is widely used in the country and has a strong literature and is used for all purposes, including the academic, artistic, publishing, economic, political, religious, sporting, and other spheres.
The issue of enforced study of Afrikaans in schools under the Nationalist Government was of course one of the catalysts for the initial uprisings of 1976.
in the later 1980s an increasing concern arose about the future of the language, inter alia sparking the whole Afrikaans arts festival movement, a vast increase in Afrikaans professional theatre, and the founding of an even larger number of Afrikaans cultural organizations.
After the 1994, there was an initial period of co-existence, but since the turn of the 20th century there has been increasing pressure to remove Afrikaans as a dominant means of administration, teaching, business, broadcasting, general communication in the country - coming to head at Universities and other institutions in 2015-6.
As an adjective
When used in conjunction with a noun it usually refers to work in the language Afrikaans. Thus Afrikaans Theatre (Afrikaanse Teater or Afrikaanse Toneel in Afrikaans), Afrikaans Film (Afrikaanse Rolprent, Afrikaanse Film), Afrikaans Literature, Afrikaans Music, and so on would refer to the large body of work written and/or performed in the language Afrikaans (or at least predominantly in Afrikaans, as the late 20th century saw the rise of multilingual plays, films, TV programmes, etc.). (By the same token, for the purposes of tghis encyclopaedia, English Theatre would refer to work created and staged in English by South Africans, or in South Africa. Theatre deriving from England and the British Isles would be called British Theatre, from America would be American theatre and so forth.)
The same would apply to terms like Afrikaans music, Afrikaans literature (writing in Afrikaans), Afrikaans university or school (where the language of teaching would be predominantly Afrikaans).
Go to ESAT Bibliography
Return to The ESAT Entries
Return to Main Page