Die slag toe slim sy baas gevang het
The day when the clever arguments misfired. Some very interesting observations can be made in describing the history of the standardising of Afrikaans. It is possible that the plans that Lord Milner had in mind for the establishing of an exclusive English language in South Africa during the early years of the twentieth century could be the starting point of Afrikaans as an official language some two decades later.
Afrikaans was a well-known spoken language by 1910. It started with the Khoi, using their language as a base, and then adapting the language of the seafarers on the Dutch ships, which they construed as a new trade language: Afrikaans. This language later became one of the main languages of the central parts of South Africa. The sheep and cattle farmers from the interior spoke a language that was far removed from Dutch as well. These two Afrikaans dialects were not used for higher functions, and they influenced each other to a great extent.
The tradition among speakers of Afrikaans of using Dutch whenever the written functions of Dutch were required was one of the main deterrents for broadening the scope of Afrikaans. Dutch was used in the public schools with little success, largely due to Dutch not being a home language for the Afrikaans scholars attending those schools. In fact, Dutch was hardly a spoken language in South Africa, but it was a language with well-established higher functions, which Afrikaans lacked. In this context, the use of Dutch in schools prevented mother-tongue speakers of Afrikaans’ education in their mother tongue.
Emphasising the need for Afrikaans as a medium of instruction for Afrikaans-speaking pupils, Langenhoven used some clever arguments to gain the support in 1914 of the Dutch-oriented South African Academy for Language, Literature and Art (Zuid-Afrikaansche Akademie voor Taal, Letteren en Kunst) for his plan to introduce Afrikaans as a language of choice in the public schools where Dutch was taught as well. Rather unexpectedly, the Academy supported his plan.
It appears that Langenhoven struck a deal with the pro-Dutch language association, the Zuid-Afrikaansche Taalbond, beforehand, which left the Afrikaans language commission no other option but to use Dutch spelling rules to spell Afrikaans.
The direct outcome of this arrangement is discussed here, as well as some of the consequences following from it.
Keywords: early Afrikaans dialects, official language, standard Afrikaans, the Afrikaanse Woordelys en Spelreëls, the South African Academy for Science and Arts
Trefwoorde: amptelike taal, die Afrikaanse Woordelys en Spelreels, die Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns, Standaardafrikaans, vroeë Afrikaanse dialekte
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).