When did it all start?
Not in 1652, it seems. The language originated as far back as 1595! That’s when the Khoi-Khoin and the Dutch seafarers were forced to find common ground to speak to one another for bartering purposes. The interesting fact here is that this proves that the Khoi’s Afrikaans could not have originated from Dutch. They never spoke Dutch. This is discussed in-depth by Prof. Christo van Rensburg in a research article about the earliest Khoi-Afrikaans. (There are more useful resources on this topic at the end of this article.) See pdf.
You can read an abstract of the article here.
Join us on a short journey through Afrikaans
Afrikaans is a creole language that evolved during the 19th century. The majority of its roots can be found in Dutch. While the rest is a mixture of seafarer variants of Malay, Portuguese and Indonesian and the indigenous Khoi-Khoin and San languages.
- The first Afrikaans was spoken by the Khoi-Khoin in 1595 when trading with Dutch seafarers. They were forced to communicate in a language that would be understood by both parties. This initial Khoi-Afrikaans slowly replaced the Khoi-Khoin’s mother tongue.
- In1671 visitors to the Cape remarked that the language spoken there did not sound like any European language.
- In the 18th century, two groups of Afrikaans speakers moved inland. The Khoi who spoke Khoi-Afrikaans and a group of livestock farmers (Veeboere) who spoke Veeboer-Afrikaans. It was at this Frontier where a new language with its own identity originated – namely Afrikaans!
- The 19th century marked an era when Afrikaans came in contact with English and the languages of the various black tribes. All of these languages played a role in the development of Afrikaans.