South African English

Jump to navigation Jump to search

South African English (SAE) is a variant of standard English spoken by English-speaking South Africans (or ESSAs as they were known in the 1970s). The language is also referred to by a range of other acronyms, including SAE,SAfrE, SAfrEng, en-ZA, and so on.

English arrived in the country with the first British colonization in the late 1700s, and - though retaining much of the original 17th century English of the first settlers and administrators, soon evolved distinctive additional characteristics of its own, inter alia under the influence of the many other languages spoken in the country and unique local conditions. Long unrecognized, it is today accepted as a formal variant with a vibrant literature. In theatre in particular a great number of writers utilize the distinctive characteristics of SAE in their plays. The language has also evolved which has a number of more informal "sub-variants" (sometimes referred to as "Afrikaner-English", "African English", "Indian English", "Coloured English", "Township slang", etc). The melding of Afrikaans, English and other local languages has become increasingly prominent after 1994.

The language gained a form of official sanction with the publication of Jean Branford's[1] first version of A Dictionary of South African English on September 28, 1978.

For more information

Also see Language struggle


Return to

Return to The South African Context/General Terminology and Thematic Entries

Return to South African Theatre/Terminology and Thematic Entries

Return to South African Film /Terminology and Thematic Entries

Return to South African Media/Terminology and Thematic Entries

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page