The Afrikaans Language Monument

Image Details: ‘The Afrikaans Language Monument’ by teachandlearn, via Flickr

Following the recent theme of not strictly craft related posts, this one is about my attempts at learning Afrikaans. Or Afrikaant, as I prefer to call it at the moment! I am using ‘Teach Yourself Complete Afrikaans’ by Lydia McDermott, which is available as a book, a CD or as a package with both included. I went for the package, which I ordered from The Book Depository, a company I’ve used before and who, rather helpfully, do free worldwide delivery! This was delivered to an address in the UK before I left, and took about 5 days to arrive. This book should take me up to A-Level standard in the UK.


So far, the most difficult thing I have found is the pronunciation. Some of the English letters don’t exist in Afrikaans really unless they are in a word that has been ‘borrowed’ from English, and other letters are pronounced in a totally different way e.g. a ‘g’ is not a ‘geh’ sound, it’s more of a ‘heh’, but in a scouse-sounding, throat clearing way. A lot of the verbs, adjectives and nouns sound like the English word pronounced with an Afrikaans accent, or are quite similar to words I learnt when studying German at school.

The CD and book are actually quite good and I feel like I am picking up quite a lot of different random words, albeit none that I might actually need yet, such as ‘Excuse me Sir, where is the nearest knitting emporium?’ or ‘Does this come in a DK weight?’. I can say ‘I have two dogs’ and ‘I am a pilot’ though! The book also recommends listening to the CD repeatedly to get the rhythm of the language, which I have been doing whilst crafting, as my Podcast consumption has taken a nose-dive here due to the cost of internet connection. It was also recommended to me to watch a soap here called ‘7 de Laan’, which is in Afrikaans and has English subtitles. It’s actually rather good in a ‘Sunset Beach’ terrible acting but compulsive viewing sort of way. The pleasing thing is that the acting is so camped up, so they speak quite slowly for dramatic effect, and I can catch the drift of what they are saying! I would use the ‘Teach Yourself’ series again if I wanted to learn another language.

So, to measure my progress, I shall do a monthly ‘Afrikaant’ blog post, detailing what I have learnt so far, with a view to doing an entire blog post in Afrikaans by the time I leave here, with an English translation. Hopefully this will keep me on track, even if I do sound a bit like a comedy extra from Allo Allo at the moment!

5 comments on “Afrikaant!

  1. Engelse Vrou says:

    Hi Shinybees. Where are you based in South Africa? I am also a knitter from the UK and I am married to a lovely Afrikaans man.

    I speak Afrikaans (albeit not fluently), once you get the hang of the word order, much like the other Germanic languages, you just need to combat your vocab.

    Wish you all the best in your Afrikaants adventure. I love South Africa and the language.. Happy to prompt some Afrikaans conversation if that will help?

    1. Shinybees says:

      Hi! I am in Limpopo. It is such a beautiful province. Any help with my Afrikaants mission is always appreciated, especially with any knitting-related terms! Needless to say, knitting is not something that is covered in any depth in the book. I can’t write much at all yet, so the opportunity to practice would be useful if I am to manage to do a whole blog post by the time I leave!

  2. Engelse Vrou says:

    I highly recommend this Afrikaans book:

    It shows the grammar in a really user-friendly way and also covers a lot of idioms which a great little saying to get you going.

    Other than that I try listening to Afrikaans radio stations – although I must admit I’m not a great fan of the music, read story books and attempt to read Afrikaans blogs. Google translate is fairly good for the website when you are struggling.

    Enjoy your time there – You never know, you may never go back!

    1. Shinybees says:

      Thanks very much for the recommendation! I will definitely check it out – I have already had a look at your blog but I didn’t understand much of it – yet! Hopefully I will soon with more practice. I have to say it is much easier here as everyone speaks Afrikaans so I hear it much more regularly than I would in the UK. Here’s to our mutual linguistic journey!

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