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Afrikaans: Alles Is Mos Reg

August 27th, 2009 12 comments

evitaAfrikaans. Jong, you either love it or you blerry hate it.

The mere mention of the word conjures up images of my school classmates wincing in dismay as our Afrikaans teacher announced that the following week’s homework was to prepare a “mondeling” on some relevant topic. Kids would go to truly staggering lengths to get out of those classes. Even more remarkable was the number of suburban dogs that were partial to the taste of Afrikaans homework…
Personally, my allegiance falls on the love side of things. But then, I did get a lucky break when it comes to being “tweetalig”.

In the December of 1981, my family emigrated from Zimbabwe to South Africa. I was seven years old and had never heard a single word of Afrikaans. As fate would have it, we moved directly to Sasolburg in the Orange Free State. Afrikaans heaven, ne?.

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My Children Don’t Sing My Culture Anymore

August 26th, 2009 8 comments

My culture was long strangled by it’s so-called advocates.

I was brought up semi-schizo, with my Afrikaans mother and very English dad and going to a super-conservative Afrikaans school while living in an English suburb. But that was nothing compared to what was going down a few years later, when the “struggle” really came to a head in urban environs. By that time I had gone forth and multiplied, had published verse in my beloved mother tongue, and considered myself one of the Afrikaans avant-garde (or avant-guano, as my friends and I preferred to call it, as most of our ideals had been shot to shit by the ardent right wing fools). And even then I saw the death-knell coming.

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Om Die Rooinek Te Vererg

August 25th, 2009 20 comments

dictionaryI’m afraid that since I left school Afrikaans has been nothing more than an annoying ex. You know the one – you don’t want to talk to them, they don’t want to talk to you and you can’t believe you were ever with them.

It’s not that I have anything particular against Afrikaans – I’m just glad I no longer have to speak it. I simply wasn’t built to get around all the difficult sounds. I can’t brrrei – it comes out all flat and horrible sounding. Although I can fully understand quite a lot, pronouncing the title of this piece sounds like I’m trying to speak with marbles in my mouth. In fact, I firmly believe that the whole language was created as a weapon against the British.

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Dit Spyt My, Ek Verstaan Jou Nie

August 25th, 2009 42 comments

kurtdarrenI suppose like any ex convent Catholic schoolgirl one has to start with the confession. Mine starts out something like this (I was never really good at this, so here goes): Forgive me father for I have sinned, I confess that I hate Afrikaans…. with a passion!
There I said it! I said it in Johannesburg, South Africa.. I said it. (Damn! I love Chris Rock). Now, I’m sure to the millions of Afrikaaners out there this is sacrilege and you all cannot wait to be burn me at the stake. But, before you grab your firey torches and march down the road, let me explain…

How can you say that about our beloved language you shout? Die taal!
One word springs to mind and will answer all your vraagies… Steve Hofmeyr!

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Afrikaans Is Plesierig

August 24th, 2009 6 comments

afrikaansdistributionEk is mal daaroor om Afrikaans te praat want dit is ‘n lekker taal, but I am more comfortable writing in English. As ek met my pa praat, praat ons Afrikaans, but the conversation switches to English when I speak to my mom. I hear Afrikaans on a daily basis in the most “English” of countries and have used Afrikaans to establish that I am not from England while traveling through Europe. I know nothing about linguistics, but instead a language is more about the people who speak it.

Some words and expressions just sound so much better/dramatic in Afrikaans – one of them being deurmekaar. That word sums up my attitude towards a language I grew up with.

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To Kak Or Not To Kak

August 21st, 2009 11 comments

farm
I have a love/hate relationship with Afrikaans.

First, the love part:

I love how expressive it can be. There are certain words and phrases that just can’t be translated. Words like padkos, dagga, soutie, even borewors. But my all time favorite word is; kak.
I love it. Short, sweet and expressively to the point. It’s kak! Fuck, it’s great I’m smiling to myself as I write it. KAK. LOL.

Unfortunately the love part of my relationship with Afrikaans is pretty short compared to the hate part.

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Just Another South African Language

August 20th, 2009 10 comments

publicspeakingStraight to it then – I do not care for Afrikaans. Let me preface that by saying my closest friend is Afrikaans. Very Afrikaans. My family, too, speak the language. Fluently. Many of them speak it with the frequency of a first language. So do not mistake my not caring for Afrikaans the language as my not caring for Afrikaans-speaking people… two very different things.

Excuse the direct – bordering on rude – approach to writing this piece. I’ve spent the better part of six weeks trying to unpack how I really feel about the language. This self-inflicted anxiety was because, truth be told, I don’t feel anything for the language. It neither angers me nor inspires me. It neither alienates nor invites me. I’m numb to it.

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Love It Or Hate It…

August 18th, 2009 6 comments

RooinekI was forced, along with all other kids in the land, to learn Afrikaans at school and it was a language I despised as a child. This I think was mainly because the main protagonists in our childhood rivalries were predominantly Afrikaans and we were usually in the minority and so tended to lose these arguments. I can still hear the shouted insults between two groups of youngsters. ” Rooinekke” aimed at the English kids and the equally disparaging “Rock-Spiders” being hurled back.

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Something To Swear By

August 18th, 2009 19 comments

teacherThe lead singer of a very famous German heavy metal band called Rammstein once said, “French may be the language of love, but German is the language of anger.” I know what he means. Some languages slide easier off the tongue when spoken under extreme strain.

Let me start off by setting the record straight. My exposure to Afrikaans was very short, yet extremely odd. The government, in all its wisdom, decided that teaching Afrikaans to black children was counter-productive or against the spirit of the National Democratic Revolution or something. They gave some oily reason, and just like that, I stopped learning die taal in Grade 7. But I remember very well the few years of exposure that I had.

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Dear Afrikaans

August 17th, 2009 14 comments

loveletterIt was not love at first sight. It was hate. The first time I met you was when I was five years old, at a bilingual nursery school. In between belting out the lyrics of Stevie Wonder’s “I just called to say I love you” on the tyre swing, I had a war to fight. There was our jungle gym, and there was yours. Ours was the “rooinekke” one and yours was the “afrikaaners vrot bananas” one. Our weapons were words, and the occasional stick or stone. I cannot remember who won these battles, or what we were fighting for. I don’t even remember speaking to your people because they were in the vis class, and I was in the fish class.

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