SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa

Languages of Africa at SOAS: Afrikaans

Afrikaans is the third largest language, in terms of number of speakers, in South Africa (with about 6 million speakers) and it is one of the eleven South African national languages. It is also frequently heard in Namibia. Afrikaans is quite similar to Dutch and its origins lie in the multilinguistic context of the early Cape colony, where different African, Asian and European languages came into contact. In this situation a new African variety of Dutch (Afrikaans means ‘African’ in Dutch), sometimes also called ‘Cape Dutch’, developed, and this was later further developed and standardized to become modern Afrikaans. Afrikaans has a long tradition of literature (for examples the works of Breyten Breytenbach and André Brink), and today, Afrikaans is widely used in South Africa and there are Afrikaans newspapers, TV and radio stations as well as a range of creative writing.

If you would like to learn Afrikaans then please contact the Language Centre: 

Language Centre

  • Afrikaans Language Courses