Around the world indigenous languages are dying out; preserving them is a matter of great urgency. For the rest of this year, we will have a monthly feature showcasing a word taken from the Dictionary of loanwords in the Cape Muslim vernacular by Mogamat Alexander.
The author explains in the foreword to his book that the “Cape Muslim vernacular is an Afrikaans-based vernacular that was passed on from one generation to the next since the creation of the spoken Cape Dutch language.”
The word kanala means please, and would therefore be used often as part of polite everyday conversation. Kanala is derived from two Malay words: “karna” meaning ‘for the sake of’ and “Allah”.

Examples of how it could be used:

“Can you buy me a loaf of bread when you go to the shop kanala?”
“Do you have a cup of sugar to lend me kanala?”
“Pass that pen to me kanala.”

Please and thank you help oil polite social interaction in all societies. We hope you enjoy listening out for kanala should you find yourself among Cape Muslim speakers, or even try it out yourself.

Tell us: Have you used the word kanala or have you heard it being used?

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To order a copy of the book from the author, email him at