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Lesson Transcript

Eric: Welcome back to AfrikaansPod101.com. This is All About, Lesson 2, Cracking the Afrikaans Writing System. I’m Eric.
Pieter: And I’m Pieter. In this lesson, Eric and I are going to talk about something very close to South African hearts.
Eric: Yes! The fantastic alphabet!
Pieter: The Afrikaans language uses the Afrikaans Alphabet. The alphabet we use in South Africa is based on the Latin alphabet.
Eric: As we heard in the last lesson, the first written materials in Afrikaans were about Islam. So, actually, the first time Afrikaans was ever written down, it was written in the Arabic alphabet!
Pieter: That’s right, then later of course it was written in the Latin alphabet, largely based on how Afrikaans is spoken.
Eric: Afrikaans spelling is a lot more logical than in Dutch.
Pieter: That’s right. For example, although Dutch has two ways of writing the guttural ‘g’ sound, in Afrikaans this is always written with a standard ‘g.’
Eric: Afrikaans spelling is almost completely phonetic, meaning you write it like you hear it.
Pieter: Nowadays, the Afrikaans alphabet has 26 characters. There are also 13 letters with special characters, or diacritics.
Eric: 13 special characters! Doesn’t that make spelling super confusing?
Pieter: Actually, it’s quite the opposite! All of the special characters in Afrikaans are there to make it easier for you to read, and show you the difference between sounds. For example, Jan se boek and Jan sê boek. That symbol on the ‘e’ in the second example shows us whether it means “Jan’s book” or “Jan says book.”
Eric: I wish we had those in English sometimes!
Pieter: Some of the oldest surviving texts written by Afrikaans people in South Africa were actually written in Dutch, as Afrikaans was still considered just a dialect. But as early as the 1700s, Dutch traders were reporting that people in South Africa were speaking what they called verkeerd Nederlands, or “incorrect Dutch.”
Eric: So people were speaking Afrikaans but writing in Dutch?
Pieter: That’s right, but by the mid-19th century more and more books started appearing written in Afrikaans itself. Still, it wasn’t until 1925 that Afrikaans was recognized as an official language.
Eric: I heard, though, that the Afrikaans in those books looks nothing like the Afrikaans we see today.
Pieter: Yes, that’s true. Many people consider the first authoritative text in Afrikaans to be L.H. Meurant’s Zamenspraak tusschen Klaas Waarzegger en Jan Twyfelaar, which was published in 1861. However, just in the title you can see letters that we don’t use in Afrikaans any more, like ‘z’ and ‘ch’! Nowadays we’d replace these letters with ‘s’ and ‘g.’
Eric: So who decides how we should write Afrikaans? Is there an official board or something?
Pieter: Actually, there is! This is the job of Die Taalkomissie, which is based over in Bloemfontein.
Eric: I think I’ll need a dictionary to check my spelling.
Pieter: Well, the best place to start would be the “HAT.”
Eric: You mean you check your spelling in a hat?
Pieter: No! The “HAT” is the most important dictionary of the modern Afrikaans language. Its full name is the Verklarende Handwoordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal, but we just call it the “HAT.”
Eric: I see! The development and spread of the language to other countries is also amazing.
Pieter: I agree! Like we learned before, you’d be surprised how many Afrikaans words crop up in standard English.
Eric: Are you about to tell me that there are more Afrikaans words in English than just ‘aardvark’?
Pieter: I am!
Eric: Like what?
Pieter: Well, if you were going to go on a very long, hard journey to get somewhere, you might use an Afrikaans word to describe that- ‘trek!’ In fact, it’s because of the Great Treks or Groottrekke in the 19th century that the Afrikaans language spread from the Western Cape to the rest of the country.
Eric: I’m learning a lot of new things here!
Pieter: Here’s another thing to learn! Let’s have a look at the use of the alphabet. There are some letter combinations you won’t find in English, like “oe” in the word boek, or “book.”
Eric: It sounds the same but it’s spelled differently. There’s also the letter “y,” which is always a vowel in Afrikaans, and never a consonant like in English.
Pieter: The Afrikaans language has a relatively high proportion of doubled letters, both vowels and consonants. Like the ‘oo’ in boom, meaning “tree” and the ‘uu’ in muur, meaning “wall,” or ‘ee’ in eet, meaning “to eat.” Do you want to hear another great example?
Eric: Sure! Bring it on.
Pieter: voorraaddoos, which means “supply box.” It is an example of five consecutive doubled letters.
Eric: That’s a good example.
Pieter: Well I think we’ve studied quite a lot already in this lesson.
Eric: Yes, and remember that writing in Afrikaans might be a bit hard at times, but you can always grab a HAT.
Pieter: Okay, that’s all for this lesson.
Eric: Thank you for listening, and we’ll see you next time.
Pieter: Sien julle!


Please to leave a comment.
😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

AfrikaansPod101.com Verified
Friday at 06:30 PM
Pinned Comment
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What other languages do you speak?

Tuesday at 07:55 PM
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Hi Fedor,

Thank you for posting.

If you have any questions, please let us know.



Team AfrikaansPod101.com

Tuesday at 02:14 AM
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Team AfrikaansPod101
Monday at 04:29 PM
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Hallo Luis

Wow, jy praat baie tale!

You speak many languages!

Ek is bly jy geniet Afrikaans!

Lekker dag


Team AfrikaansPod101.com

Monday at 08:02 AM
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Ek praat Spaans, Italiaans, Duits, Engels en sommige Nederlands.

Ek hou van Afrikaans: wat 'n mooie, lekker taal! 😎👍❤️️

AfrikaansPod101.com Verified
Friday at 01:55 AM
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Hi Hebbe,

That's impressive! In case you wish to know more about more languages, please check out the Languages We Teach:


Have a great day!



Team AfrikaansPod101.com

Wednesday at 08:07 AM
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Ek is Hebbe

I Speak English, Swedish and Danish! :)

Lekker dag!

Monday at 05:32 PM
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hallo Zani,

Ek hou van Afrikaans leer.😇😇

Afrikaans is interessant taal😎

baie dankies vir alles 👍👍

goeie dag ❤️️❤️️

Monday at 12:26 AM
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Hallo Salma

Aangename kennis!

Geniet Afrikaans leer!

Lekker dag



Sunday at 10:20 PM
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Hallo, my naam is Salma, ek is Sudanese. Ek praat e engles an arabic

Saturday at 06:27 PM
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Hallo Tom

Nederlands en Duits!

It will make it easier for you to understand and learn Afrikaans.

Lekker dag


Team AfrikaansPod101.com