Being coloured sometimes means you occasionally get comments such as, “Oh, but you don’t speak Afrikaans?” And the answer is, yes I do, but my first language is English.
A little bit of background: My parents first language is Afrikaans and they decided to enrol me into an English-speaking primary school.
I attended a former Afrikaans high school and most of my teachers spoke Afrikaans. And they spoke suiwer Afrikaans; that’s the real deal, the big, long and sometimes hard to pronounce woorde.
The funny thing about Afrikaans is that coloureds often speak the Afrikaaps dialect – that’s the Afrikaans that only Capetonians from the Cape Flats speak, and they have their own accent and spelling. Fun Fact: last year the very first Afrikaaps dictionary was created.
To this day my parents still speak Afrikaans to each other, but when conversing with my brother and me they switch to English. Or they go in between and use Afrikaaps.
Multilingual homes often have their own special way of using languages. My little cousins who live with us are also first language English speakers. However, from time to time, we mix Afrikaans words in:
“Luke, pick up your skoene.”
“Skyler, when will we do your hare?”
Or sometimes when I’m agitated I’ll go full Afrikaans: “Kan julle net op hou!?”
I can speak Afrikaans; I can read it too. The problem comes in when I have to write it. That’s where the going gets tough and I have to run to my parents for help…
So last year I made a goal to try and improve my Afrikaans. I even read books on the FunDza website, which really helped. I can say that my Afrikaans has improved and it’s a good thing that my boyfriend speaks Afrikaans too. At the moment I’ve kind of fell off the wagon, but I hope to hop on again soon.
I think Afrikaans is a beautiful language. It can sound a bietjie gevaarlik, but it’s bold, strong and powerful.
English is the universal language, but let’s be honest it can sound a bit boring, and does not have as many colourful expressions as we find in Afrikaans.
South Africa is diverse country with so much to offer! Whatever your home language is, I hope you use it often, and that you speak and write it with pride.
Read more here on the language of choice in school.
Tell us: What is your home language? If English is not your mother tongue, do you ever converse in it at home?