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On my daily routine sitting in front of my computer reading many articles about languages, technology, and entrepreneurship, I usually find interesting subjects to learn. And this time, I have an even more interesting subject about language when I read that Afrikaans is considered as an easy language, if not the easiest, for English speaker or speakers from its language family. I was like “Seriously?!”
Afrikaans originated from the West Germanic language family, which is the same family as English, Dutch, and German. I have learnt all of these three languages, so I know how difficult they are and yes, English is not an easy language. As usual, I always challenge myself to learn more new languages, or at least to learn basic phrases from travelling phrasebooks, and I wonder if I would also consider Afrikaans an easy language or not.
Get to know AfrikaansMany of you may have not heard about Afrikaans since it is not so popular like Western European languages, such as Spanish, French, or Portuguese. According to Wikipedia, Afrikaans has approximately 7.2 million native speakers and spoken mainly in Namibia and South Africa. It is also said that Afrikaans speakers can understand Dutch better than the other way around.
Being a descendant of Dutch, Afrikaans was considered as a Dutch dialect until the early 20th century when it ultimately obtained the status as one of South Africa’s 11 official languages. Apart from Dutch, Afrikaans is also influenced by Bantu and Khoisan languages, as well as Portuguese and Malay.
Luckily, Indonesian is one of my native languages, and I know English and Spanish as well as learning Portuguese, so I should recognize some words from Afrikaans. It is not totally a foreign language for me after all.
There are no conjugations like English, such as “swim, swam, swum”, or gender, such as “un homme, une femme” in French. Some phrases are also similar with English, such as “Wat is dit in Afrikaans?” and “Wat is jou naam?” Overall, are you convinced that Afrikaans is considered easy for English speaker?
Funny wordsI found out five Afrikaans words, which are quite funny for me and are my favorites.
1. PiesangGuess what, if you know Indonesian, you will know this word. “Piesang” means “banana”, it is written as “pisang” in Indonesian. “Piesang” is also my favorite fruit.
2. BekendApparently, “bekend” has the same meaning with “beken” in Indonesian, which is “famous”. However, “beken” is a slang in Indonesian and used mostly among youngsters.
3. Besoek“Besoek” rhymes with “besuk” in Indonesian, which is “to visit sick people”. For example, you will say that you “besuk” someone at the hospital, not for visiting long-time-no-see friends.
4. NeeThe romanization of my Chinese surname is apparently a word in Afrikaans. “Nee” means “No”. So, whenever you want to refuse something, you will say my surname first “Nee, dankie”, which means “No, thank you”.
5. LekkerWhat first comes to my mind is Lekker, a restaurant in my hometown. “Lekker” means “good” or “delicious”. This is my favorite word. "Lekker" can be added before any other word to make it stronger, for example “Sjoe, dis lekker koud vandag!” which means, "Wow, it's so cold today!". "Jou lekker ding" is a common phrase which you can say to someone if you mean they are great, sexy or fantastic.
Apart from that, Afrikaans’s duplicating words also caught my attention. It is used to emphasize an action, such as “lag-lag” emphasizes “to laugh”. Whereas duplicating words in Indonesian is to indicate plurality, such as “anak-anak” is “children”, but it is also used to emphasize an action, such as “main-main” emphasizes “to play”.
Have you ever learnt Afrikaans? What are your favorite words? Share with us in the comments. If you enjoyed reading this blog, subscribe to get the latest updates in your inbox. Feel free to share this article.