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English words of Afrikaans origin

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Words of Afrikaans origin have entered other languages.

British English has absorbed Afrikaans words primarily via British soldiers who served in the Boer Wars.

Many more words have entered common usage in South African English due to the parallel nature of the English and Afrikaner cultures in South Africa.


Internationally common

There are also several English words derived from Cape Dutch, a forerunner of Afrikaans:

  • hartebeest (modern Afrikaans equivalent is hartebees)
  • scoff (as in scoffing food): from Cape Dutch schoff, the word does not survive in modern Afrikaans
  • wildebeest (modern Afrikaans equivalent is wildebees)
  • veldt borrowed again by English in the modern form veld

Common in South Africa

There are almost innumerable borrowings from Afrikaans in South African English, including braai (a shortening of braaivleis, a barbecue), drift (a ford), dorp (a small town), kraal (a corruption of the Portuguese curral, an enclosure for cattle; compare corral), laager (a defensive circle of wagons), biltong (jerky), mielie (maize) and lekker (tasty, nice, good).

Some of these words are just loosely associated with South African English and both the English and Afrikaans word will be used in conversation; others have been deeply ingrained in South African English. The best example of the latter is probably voetstoots meaning as is or as it stands [1] (literally: to push with the foot) and is commonly used in South Africa legal documents [2].


  1. ^ "The Voetstoots Clause". Associated Estate Agents.
  2. ^ "Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivatives 2.5 South Africa license". Creative Commons.

See also

See all linguistics glossaries:

Published - January 2009

This glossary is available under the terms
of the GNU Free Documentation

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