31.10.09

Back to my Mother Tongue

In South Africa we now have eleven official languages, but English is the operational language, or in other words, the language used generally.  Up until 1994, we only had two official languages, namely, English and Afrikaans.  The African languages were never recognised during the Apartheid era or before.

I grew up in an Afrikaans speaking family and community.  Only when I was seven years old, did I start to learn English in school.  This did not mean that I ever had the opportunity to practice the use of English as we had no English speaking neighbours, friends or even acquaintances.  My own parents could only speak a very elementary form of English and this was quite acceptable, and even expected, as in the English communities, the same applied to Afrikaans.

It must be borne in mind that the Anglo-Boer War only ended in 1902.  During, and for many years after that war, the traditional, fiercely nationalist, Afrikaner nation suffered much hardship and humiliation (whether real or imagined) at the hand of the English victor.  The farm of my own grandparents were burnt by the English but fortunately my grandmother, with her children, managed to escape and did not end up in one of the dreaded concentration camps.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Boer_War)   Understandably, the English, or their language, were not at all welcome or popular in the community where I grew up.

It was only when I was sixteen years old, and started attending a dual medium (English and Afrikaans) school, that I started communicating in English and also very irregularly as even then, each language group kept to themselves.  Once I left school, and being the "rebel" that I was, I became friends with English speaking people at work and and eventually English really did become my second language.

Today, all my communication and correspondence at work is in English and ninety percent of what I read is in English.  This never bothered me as I have truly become, over the years, a truly bilingual South African read:  I have forgiven the English - lol)  Then, quite a while ago,  I was given the task to write a speech for my boss in Afrikaans and to my horror I found that I just could not express myself on paper in my mother tongue.  What a wake up call!  

Well to tell a condensed version of a very long story, I decided to start reading Afrikaans fiction again.  I was astounded, and delighted, to find just how much Afrikaans fiction has developed over the years.  In a very short time, I discovered a number of excellent Afrikaans authors who can hold their own against any bestselling English author, anywhere in the world.

To celebrate my "rediscovery" of Afrikaans, I have decided to start a blog in my mother tongue.  So to those who read my blog and understand Afrikaans, please visit "Ek is Anna".  It can be accessed from my profile.  I am not sure where "Ek is Anna" is headed, but Anna has always been an individual who followed her own head, so let's just watch and see where she takes us in the future.

13 comments:

RNSANE said...

Very good for you! Of course, I won't be able to read that blog - and I hope that you continue this one as I so enjoy it. I applaud your renewal of the use of your own native tongue. It cannot and should not be lost! As an English speaking Caucasian, it saddens me to see how we "victors" have treated countries where we arrive, destroying cultures, treasures, and the very hopes and dreams of people. I wonder that we are ever forgiven!

On another blog I read, the young man, in the Barcelona area, is trying also to preserve his native Catalan language. Kudos to him as well.

Hope you are well!

Jo said...

That is wonderful...! Good for you. In Canada we have two official languages -- English and French. In high school we learn French, but my French is very rudimentary. My daughter and her childen speak French fluently, however.

My grandmother was Afrikans and I loved her accent. It was so soft and pretty -- just like her. I loved to hear her speak.

I wish I knew enough Afrikans to read your other blog.

leilani said...

WOW!! How KOOL is that! I think no matter where the blog is headed you are on the right track!

Marit said...

i read the poem you wrote. it was short and simple enough so I could grasp it with my knowledge of dutch. It was beautiful!
I checked out your other post... but that got just a bit too complicated.

A human kind of human said...

Thank you everybody for visiting and your comments. Yes Marit, I am sure you would be able to read some of what I write in Afrikaans. The first one would be difficult because I wrote it in the vernacular of the Cape Coloured and I truly hope they will forgive me for murdering the way they speak Afrikaans. I love listening to them speaking as they have a very down to earth and expressive way of speaking. Please check up from time to time, I am sure that you will be able to read and understand a lot more.

DUTA said...

Congrats! Good Luck with your blog in africaans!

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