Is Afrikaans Close to English?


Cruising around the Net researching my piece on the Dutch languages, I read up on Afrikaans quite a bit. Afrikaans is the language, very close to Dutch, spoken in South Africa. It seems to be a Dutch dialect from a few centuries ago. It’s rather close to Flemish, and of course it is close to Dutch. It is often described as a simplified Dutch, and some Dutch speakers feel it almost resembles Dutch “baby-talk” or child speech. There are theories that Afrikaans is a creole (a simplified form of a language) but these seem to be discarded, though it does have influences from other languages, especially English and various African languages.

A number of English speakers on the Net said that as an English speaker, they could either communicate or almost communicate with Afrikaans speakers, each using their own language. I decided to test that out by listening to the “De La Rey” video above. There were English subtitles, but I turned my head away so I could not read them and just listened to the song trying to figure out English words.

If you listen to it with the subtitles up there, you can see a lot of cognates, but when we talk to other humans, we don’t get subtitles floating over each other’s heads so we can understand better.

I could hardly understand one single word of the Afrikaans speech in this song. I got Transvaal, but that’s just a place name, and your average uneducated American would never pick that up. I also got flammen, and I thought that might be flame. Close, it’s fire. The idea that Afrikaans and English are the slightest bit intelligible in spoken form is not supported.

Anyway, it’s a cool song. You might as well check it out. It’s banned in South Africa, though there’s nothing racist about the song. It talks about the Boer War, in which the Afrikaans speaking Boers fought against the British military around 1904 or so.

Your more educated White nationalists around the world love this war for some reason. I’m not really up on what the war was all about – apparently an anti-colonial rebellion? Anyway, this Boer War is an integral part of the South African legendary history of their time in this land, hence this song is part of their heritage. Where these Blacks think it’s racist, I don’t understand.

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55 thoughts on “Is Afrikaans Close to English?”

  1. Dear Robert
    If an Englishman can’t understand Dutch, he can’t understand Afrikaans either because Afrikaans is essentially simplified Dutch, although it has a lot of anglicisms.

    I’ll give you some examples:

    We received the letter yesterday.
    D – We hebben de brief gisteren ontvangen
    A – Ons het die brief gister ontvang.

    I’m not satisfied with your performance.
    D- Ik ben niet tevreden met je prestatie.
    A – Ek is niet tevrede met jou prestasie.

    Early explorers who entered the Cape in the 16th century traded with the Khoi inhabitants.
    D – Vroege ontdekkingsreizigers die de Kaap in de 16de eeuw aandeden, hebben met de Khoi inwoners handel gedreven.
    A- Vroeë ontdekkingsreisigers wat die Kaap in die 16de eeu aangedoen het, het met die Khoi inwoners handel gedryf.

    Afrikaans is nowadays one of the eleven official languages of SA and also an important language in Namibia.
    D- Afrikaans is thans één van de elf officiële talen van ZA en ook een belangrijke taal in Namibië.
    A – Afrikaans is tans een van die amptelike tale van SA en ook ‘n belangryke taal in Namibië.

    They didn’t know what had happened.
    D- Ze wisten niet wat er gebeurd was.
    A – Hulle het niet geweet wat gebeur het.

    She talked with the boss about it.
    D – Ze heeft er met de baas over gesproken.
    A – Sy het met die baas daaroor gespreek.

    He’ll never do that again.
    D- Dat zal hij nooit weer doen.
    A – Dit sal hy nooit weer doen nie.

    Cheers. James

    1. Very nice try, James, but unfortunately, many mistakes, most notably, the double negation in Afrikaans: “nie…nie.” “Niet” doesn’t exist. e.g. “Hulle het nie geweet wat gebeur het nie,” instead of “hulle het niet geweet….” On a cultural level, two things: Afrikaners get upset when their language is referred to as “simplified Dutch.” It has a vast literary/poetic history. Secondly, some Boere songs are banned, because they have fascist content. Will be glad to answer any further questions you might have!

    1. Hi mimeyo. I talked to a Filipina friend of mine. She speaks Tagalog. She can’t understand Batangas Tagalog. Not really anyway. Surely at a less than 90% level. Batangas may well be a separate language.

    2. The real reason why this language is different from that of Batangas is the heavy influence of Ilocano,Pangasinan and specially Kapampangan Sambalic and Northern Cordillera languages which were the languages in that area where the language of Manila and Central Luzon aka Northern Tagalog is now spoken so basically this language is just like Jamaican Patois in origin

      Actually, both of the languages have different vocubalaries..
      Here are examples of how they form sentences

      -the one labeled in the standard is the language of Manila.

      Mind you the language of Batangas/Batangenyo I believe is an endangered language..

  2. Dutch or Afrikaans are intermediate between English and German, so if you speak both E+G, you can understand arfikaans written text. My understanding to spoken Afrikaans is somewhat worse.
    English and Afrikaans arent mutually intelligible, thats a fact, here is something about it, if you can endure Terreblanche. May he RIP.–zxhnks

    1. Personally, Afrikaans and English are partially mutually intelligible. At least to the extent that if you know English, Afrikaans is easier to learn and vise versa, considering both are Germanic languages. Well, English is probably both a Germanic and Romance language due to its history.

  3. One time I was telling my friend (NE Asian), his friend (white), and his friend’s girlfriend, in L.A., about some of the crazy things that go on in Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho (the languages), esp the clicks. By and by the girlfriend (white) says to me (E Asian), “You should learn some Afrikaans.”

    I said, “I did! You know how to say ‘My pen is in my hand’ in Afrikaans?”

    “No, how?”

    “My pen is in my hand.” (In Afrikaans–or what some Chinese now call Boerish–but easily coming across to a Californian as English with a funny accent.)

    “Get out of here!” (everybody laughing)

    “Or how about ‘My name is Patrick?'”


    “My naam is Patrick.”

    More laughing.

    Girl: “I feel like I can understand this language.”

    “Sure, of course! It’s in the blood, the white blood!”

    Another time, some black folks in Swaziland referred to Boerish as “another kind of English” in conversation.

    Sometimes, the Boer take on their history really puzzled me. The “thing” that they have with “their” South Africa is really a lot like what the Holo-speaking Taiwanese have with Taiwan.

  4. If you hear Afrikaans enough, you might be able to communicate without studying the language. I also listened to the song and picked up quite a bit. Knowing the context is obviously very helpful. I grew up in America with two Boer parents. They never taught me the language and only used it when I was a small child while communicating things unsuitable for my ears. I remember the word “kak” being bandied about quite a bit. It essentially means “bullshit.” The most common alternate term for Afrikaans is “kitchen Dutch.”

    Excellent article on the Boer War:

    Good blog on the current situation including what’s increasingly being acknowledged as a genocidal situation for the Boers:

    Petition seeking refugee status for Boers that explains the horror in great detail. Click on the “view whole petition” link.

    The media portrays Boers in the most awful of lights. Feeling the full force of their hatred and then watching the general populous fall in line is something that no person should have to go through. “Intelligent” white nationalists appreciate us because in reality we’re industrious, hard-working, creative, healthy, honest, and kicked around like no one else by the machine whose abuse they increasingly suffer in America and Europe. This song is illegal in South Africa likely because certain interests are afraid that it will remind people of who the real enemy is. Relative to anything that America, England, or Israel have done, the Boers are complete teddy bears, yet…hmmmmm…for some reason they become the most vile of the vile. Currently, they’re using the false portrayal of our inbred white man evil to justify and ignore our genocide at the hands of their brainwashed pit-bulls.

    1. “Relative to anything that America, England, or Israel have done, the Boers are complete teddy bears, yet…hmmmmm…for some reason they become the most vile of the vile.” Eric.

      There is a causal connection there. He who won’t fight will simply be beaten. You can see this in schoolyards, at work and in academia. The Boers took their hands off their weapons in order to be liked by those without.

      1. What happened to White South Africans of English descent and speech? They were 40% of the White population.

        Did most of them head to the UK? Anglo-Israelite theory, anyone?

        1. STARY WYLK

          Australia in the eighties was the first destination.

          Anglo south Africans began showing up in UK in the late 90’s along with the Dutch whose great-grandparents fought them, who began taking menial jobs alongside EU immigrants from Poland.

          Dutch South Africans with money, who are more rare, returned to Holland because they can speak the language and have some relatives there.

          Poor stayed in S.A.

        2. Like Anglo-Saxons of means in American cities they had the resources and education to move to Australia (1980’s) and later UK (1990’s) when SA became more dangerous.

          Dutch like some of the poorer Italian-Americans or Polish-Americans in North American cities simply could not or would not leave the South Africa and as a result they bore the brunt of the societal changes, eventually becoming dispossessed.

      2. Boers also lacked the direct connection to the United Kingdom that Anglo South Africans possessed so when the country went downhill they could not immigrate to Australia or UK as easily because they lacked the wealth.

        So they are stuck there.

  5. Educated White Nationalists are interested in the Boer War because Swedish SA journalist (and Rhodesian presidential PR person) Ivor Benson’s excellent NWO Cliff Notes, “This Age of Conflict,” posits the premise that globalism got its kick start in South Africa.

    As far as I know these are the only sources on the Net for Benson’s pamphlet. Some of the text in the upper link was scrambled when it was scanned in.
    The second link is new to me. Maybe the scrambled page(s) in the first text can be cross referenced with the second. “This Age of Conflict”
    should have two parts. Part II is titled “The Source and Technology of Illegitamate Power.” A complete version of both parts should be about 37 downloaded pages.

    I used to like Johnny Clegg and Savuka before I woke up to the wigger menace.

    1. If I recall correctly, weren’t most of the European nations at that time also heavily opposed to British actions in South Africa but unfortunately had their hands tied? And I recall that the Russian Empire did try to deliver some assistance, as much as it could without angering the British Empire though.

  6. Dear Interfector
    The notion that Dutch and Afrikaans are intermediate between English and German is nonsensical. Dutch, and by implication Afrikaans, is as far apart from or as close to English as German. Dutch morphology is somewhat simpler than German, and only in that narrow sense is Dutch closer to English than German. That’s all.

    Cheers. James

  7. i thought i could pick out some of what they were saying in this song. i studied german for three years and was very proficient, though i never travelled and got a chance to flex that muscle.

    i know zero dutch. but when i was in amsterdam i recognized some of their language sounded a lot like german to me.

    i think if you speak english and know a little bit of german you might have a shot at picking up afrikaans easily.

  8. By the way, the song De La Rey is not banned in South Africa. In the old South Africa songs would be banned, but not in the new. The song is even in that great SA movie, “White Wedding”. Some people don’t like the song because it asks De La Rey, who was a famous general in the Boer War, “Sal jy die boere kom lei?” which means “Will you come and lead the boers”, by implication into battle, which some take as meaning against blacks. In comparison, the often-sung song “Kill the boer, kill the farmer” which can still be heard at political rallies, requires a lot less interpretation!

    And on another point, anyone who agrees that Afrikaans is Dutch “baby-speak” has either never heard this fully-developed, highly expressive language, or has a prodigy for a child! Have a read of some of the novels by great authors like Andre P Brink and see if you still agree Afrikaans is “child speak”. (Trust me, learning it at school many of us wished it was as simple as that!)

    (PS: no language is quite as expressive as Afrikaans when it comes to swearing! Nothing vents anger quite like a few choice Afrikaans ‘vloekwoorde’ – swear words.)

  9. Afrikaans may indeed be quite close to English. I have noticed people in Holland speak English rather fluently, of those who speak it and without a real accent unlike other Europeans. And they also pick up English very fast when they are in the UK, compared to other Europeans. With Afrikaans being derived from Dutch settlers in South Africa, I think there is a very strong connection between Afrikaans and the Dutch language.

    1. India, it is actually not just a very strong connection. Afrikaans is actually a daughter language of Dutch, for it directly came from Dutch. And throughout the years it also picked up a few loanwords from other languages(including spreading some words to other languages, like the English commando).

      The fun thing is, even though I don’t know any Dutch, a Dutch person can write to me in Dutch, I can write to them in Afrikaans, and we can basically perfectly understand eachother bar a handful of words. Tip, don’t say the Dutch word for cat.

  10. Dear Sir
    The Second Anglo-Boer war (1899-1902) is something that is particularly remembered in South Africa, because it certainly formed the “Afrikaner” as a nation. The British (particularly Lords Kitchener and RobertsI) decided to implement a “Scorched Earth” policy to burn every homestead to the ground and to slaughter all the livestock. They then interred the women, children and old people in concentration camps where 26000 died as a result of the terrible conditions. Emily Hobhouse, came to South Africa and saw the conditions. She went back to England to make it public, and only then did this come to an end. Notably the English didn’t like it when the Germans used concentration camps, but when done by themselves – not really a problem.

    It is remebered in British history as the most expensive colonial war faught. It was not a war of independence or colonial rebellion since the Republic of the Orange Free State and the South African Republic were already recognised as independent states by the British. However, when gold was discovered in Johannesburg the British decided that it was time to annex these free republics to the Cape Colony that was under British rule (Cecil John Rodes and Dr. Jameson star in this part of the fun). The whole concentration camp thing as well as the superior attitude of the English towards the Boer and Afrikaner populations (no Afrikaans in schools or universities) played a vital role in the development of “Afrikaner” nationalism.

    1. from which onward from there, is where the sad story of apartheid comes into its own. The British & the Jews,especially the rothschilds being among the latter, being the ones with all the money & the military might behind them, found themselves compelled to use the poorer Afrikaners as sorta the overseer class for the new rulers of what became South Africa, which the boers were all to willing to play along. But now, in the so-called Rainbow Nation that is the ‘new’ South Africa, it’s the Afrikaners whites that have been the real losers, or @ least the ones whom have lost the most. But meanwhile, it’s those of british or jewish descent whom still have all the wealth, also still control & own the SA economy as well. Rothschilds still the true overlords of South Africa.

      1. I’m sure using the same logic WNs will try to argue that Jews controlled all the cotton plantations in the south USA and the humble white people had nothing to do with it.

  11. No, I couldn’t understand the song, but there were striking moments when the words were almost English and crystal clear, as in deeper and wider, (dieper en wyder?). For what it’s worth, I can understand spoken Scots only slightly better, and Shetlandic Scots about the same as Afrikaans.

    1. Afrikaans, always being in close contact with English for over 2 centuries, managed to borrow a lot of English loan words within that time.

  12. Having some South African roots, (non-blood) I have to confess my “racism” and admit I have romanticized the Boer wars (or at least the 2nd Dutch v. Anglo) in my mind.

    Especially a Romeo-Juliet story (British soldier burns Dutch girl’s family farm, then fall in love, etc). I of course don’t speak Afrikaans, I understood the beginning more than I did the chorus.

    I wonder if General de La Rey was a Sephardic Jew, born Dutch, with roots from Spain, apparently because Spain conquered the Netherlands, and many Jews from Spain fled there;

    It says in 1795 Cape Colony became British, the Dutch were subjugated, but rebelled in 1804 and won, but in 1806 they were defeated again, subjugated and fled in the great trek in the 1830s, setting up territory that encroached on Zulu land.

    from 1815-1835 the Natives consolidated, united under the Zulus, and stronger than ever attacked the Dutch in 1838, but were defeated in a climatic battle at blood creek that December. The Zulus moved in to territory between the Dutch and British and essentially served as a buffer (British in the Southwest, Dutch in the North central and Northeast), until;
    In the first war, the Zulus were invaded by the British (1879) and defeated.

    In 1899-1902 the second war was fought, in which the British invaded, from Cape Colony, the two independent nations with people of Dutch descent (Orange Republic and Traansaval) (where they’d been since ,the 1830s, and repulsed the Zulus in 1838), and defeated them in 1902.

    De La Rey was an Orange Republic General in the 1899-1902 Anglo-Dutch war, it says he was of Spanish-Dutch, but not Sephardic-Spanish, descent.

    The Orange Republic appears to have been in the Northeast and Tranavaal in the North Central Area of modern day Southern Africa.

  13. Jared Taylor worships Afrikaneers, yet “de La Rey” would just be some non-White Mexican spic to that guy.

    I’m so fed up with his recent bullshit.

      1. GAY STATE GIRL Fondas and Brandos both belonged to a Northern Italian Genoa community within the Netherlands that had its roots in the Renaissance era.

      1. I’m sure you know more about South African immigrant groups than me (I met a Portuguese-South African once and of course East Indians), but it does say de La Rey’s family simply came from the Netherlands.

        His Spanish roots would have been ancient, from when the Spanish ruled the Netherlands in the late 1500s;

        Before Cape Colony was even first settled (1652)

        I suppose the Jews in Spain had been doing their crypto- thing and jumped at the chance to flee (although he was not Jewish).

        But John Berman is, the guy from CNN, whose ancestors have that exact story according to the CNN show thing.

    1. Taylor was always a bit of a con-man.

      He tried to present this reasonable,academic image, yet;

      Claimed nonsensical things like the Egyptians were FOUNDED by Europeans.
      This type bullshit.
      Doesn’t censor blatant near VNN level stuff from his site ((bloodied Black(s), who need to see “veterinarians”, “liquid watermelon, I found it”)).
      or anti-semitic stuff, Israel is just “bad” (wink, wink), Ashkenazis aren’t White, etc.

      I get the impression that guy is just a superficial thinking slick conman whose really actually quite a douche.

  14. It does remind me of the one scene in “Cry of Freedom” where Woods goes to the Justice Minister’s House to discuss easing up on Biko.

    The Justice Minister discusses all that their Boer ancestors had fought for, (and had paintings of the famous battles), and said they could not just give that away.

    I do believe that things are going badly down there. There needed to be a balance between complete Black rule, and some level of White victimization, and full blown Apartheid.

  15. The Boer War was the UK’s Vietnam if I am correct, that is if the American Revolution wasn’t. It was vastly unpopular around the world, and a lot of people had sympathy for Boers as the British were the arrogant top dogs of the world at the time.

    1. The British first rolled over the Zulus, then the Boers. They were clearly the aggressors.

      And, yes, they freed South Africa 8 years after the second Boer War ended (1910)

    1. I would assume he’s Southern Spanish, but I see no evidence of Mestizo or Black blood.

      Even the alledged Whitest of White Hispanics have some Amerind admixture evident around the eyes (Ted Cruz), but this guy has nothing!

      yet, he’s “non-White”

        1. Ah, yes, that’s true.

          His father’s father was a Canarian Immigrant (would lead to the conclusion), but his father’s mother was Cuban.

          he has the wrinkles coming off the narrow part of the eyes, which you can see when young Mestizos or Asians smile, or etched permanent as wrinkles in older ones.

          it must be all from his Paternal Grandmother.

          Is he still a White man? Of course! But I think they should admit “Criollos” really does mean “up to 1/8th non-White”.

        2. I don’t really go for that Eastern European look……………………………..
          but I suppose she is considered a “beauty”

          Although it is really just a silly issue, and it is true that they were generic phrases, it appears that the length of the passages that were exactly the same does mean she plagiarized Michele Obama.

          dunno if she’s like retarded;

    2. To be fair, a lot of White Hispanics choose not to associate as white to receive affirmative action benefits.

      1. On the street in New York I might assume her origins were Russian Jewish or Ukrainian Jewish. You see many Eastern European Jewish women who resemble her with the wide cheekbones, straight thick hair and bow eyes.

  16. The Boer War is so legendary for us, because the Boere almost single-handedly won the English, the only reason why they lost is because England brought in a crapload of reserves and the Boere couldn’t handle their wives and children being in the concentration camps and their lands being burnt by the English. Also the song from Bok van Blerk called De La Rey tells us the story of a boer fighter who calls out to the Boer leader De La Rey for leadership. This song really motivates me and boy if I were a soldier and this song came up, I’d be even more prepared to die for my country

  17. Afrikaans and English are not mutually intelligible. I could make out some words because English is a Germanic language, but Afrikaans sounds much closer to German than English. And Dutch and German are closely related. I speak fluent English and Spanish. Even Portuguese, which I can read on paper is not mutually intelligible to me as the sounds are different though the words look very similar. On paper, I can get the general idea sometimes with Afrikaans, but orally, I cannot understand it.

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