A while back I said I would speak about the difference between Afrikaans people and English people in SA. So here goes.
Firstly, I have to say that I am going to be making sweeping generalizations here. Not all Afrikaans people are like this, and not all English people are like that. And perhaps this is not even reality, perhaps it is merely my perception based on my experiences.
I can’t say too much about the Afrikaners, my SIL reads my blog ;-)
Afrikaans is more than just a language, it is a culture here in SA.
In general, an Afrikaaner is a white, Afrikaans speaking South African. An English person is generally a white, English speaking South African. Although the majority of so called ‘coloured*’ people (the classification of mixed race people in SA) speak Afrikaans, they identity themselves with their ethnicity, rather than by their language. They will refer to themselves as ‘coloured’ rather that as ‘Afrikaans’.
The stereotypical Afrikaaner male is a white, slightly overweight with a big beer belly, a moustache. He is stereotypically less open minded, less tolerant than English people. He loves drinking brandy and coke and loves watching rugby. And while some of the staunchest fighters of apartheid were Afrikaans, there is the perception that Afrikaaners were more racist. Perhaps this is because the forefathers of apartheid were Afrikaans. (Not all Afrikaaners are like Eugene, promise!)
Having said that, the young Afrikaans people of today are completely different. As we move increasingly towards an integrated society here in SA, the stereotypes of the past no longer hold true. I think it has become increasingly difficult to say that there is a typical Afrikaner, or a typical Zulu, or a typical Xhosa. While some features of the culture are still strong, the younger generation are becoming increasingly less Afrikaans / Zulu / Xhosa etc, and increasingly more South African. Which is great.
Marko’s family is Afrikaans. He was brought up Afrikaans but went to an English school, and we only speak English at home. In fact the only time Marko ever speaks Afrikaans is to his parents and sister. My Afrikaans is ok, I can understand it quite well, but my accent is appalling. When we are with his family his father will speak to me in Afrikaans (he is a staunch Afrikaaner) and I speak to him in English. I understand him and he understands me. He seems to like me even though I am a ‘rooinek’ (red neck –called so because when the English first came to Africa the harsh African sun burnt them at the back of their necks, the only place that was exposed when in uniform).
Our children will be brought up English speaking, and although they will probably be able to speak Afrikaans, I would like them learn a black language (probably Xhosa) as a second language, rather than Afrikaans, as I had to do as a child.
Traditional Afrikaners eat different to what we (English speaking people) eat. They like their ‘vleis, reis en aardtappels’ – meat, rice and potatoes. I really do not like Afrikaans food, it is too starchy and fattening for me. And they cook their vegetables too soft. Or perhaps that is just my in laws.
Afrikaans is a language that is based on Dutch with a bit of Flemish and German combined. When I was at school, in the apartheid era, we were forced to do Afrikaans as a second language. As I say, I can understand it quite well, and I can speak it as well. Although, according to Marko, I have a pathetic accent. Which is not very nice of him. Asshole. Marko speaks perfect, flawless English. You would never guess he is Afrikaans.
That horrible flat ‘Souf Effriken’ accent you hear – that is mostly the Afrikaans accent. Some of you said that my accent is not like what you have heard previously, that is because I am English speaking, not Afrikaans.
I remember when I was in primary school, I went to a mixed school – there were both Afrikaans children and English children, we used to fight a lot. At that stage Apartheid was going strong and there were absolutely no black or coloured children in our school.
While it is not really possible to say there is a ‘typical’ English speaking profile or caricature, because there isn’t a particular culture that depicts English-speaking South Africans, there is one that exists for Afrikaaners. The one I have described above.
Afrikaans is actually an easy language to learn. It is relatively simple. One thing that does drive me crazy is that they will put separate words together to make one word to describe something. For example, a ‘sitplek’ is place to sit, literally translated as ‘sit-place’. It makes reading the written word very difficult as words can be so long. I can read Afrikaans, it just takes me ages.
Afrikaans is a very colourful, expressive language. There are some words that totally lose their meaning in translation. Our local dialect is often peppered with Afrikaans words. For example, the word ‘lekker’ – meaning nice. But it is so much more than nice. ‘Lekker’ means nice, cool, groovy, perfect, enjoyable, divine, winner’ish etc, all in one. For example, it is such a ‘lekker’ day. ‘Vok’ is also so much more expressive than ‘fuck’. Another word I love is ‘vry’, which is slang for cuddle, but its more than cuddling. Oh and ‘gatvol’ – it means fed up, literally translated as ‘butt/hole full’. “Ek is gatvol.”
Afrikaaners are actually quite cool. I married one after all.
Daar is niks verkeed met die Afrikaaners, hulle kan vol kak wees, maar daar is een ding wat hulle goed kan doen – hulle kan lekker vry ;-)
* Coloured is not a negative term here. It is an official race grouping and Coloured people will refer to themselves as Coloured (or sometimes Black). I know it is a derogatory term in the USA.