Africaans, the language spoken by nearly 7 million people as a first and about 10 million people as a second language in South Africa, belongs to the West Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. The Afrikaans language is also used in such counties as Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland, and Zambia.
Afrikaans, also known as the Cape Dutch, was originally used by the settlers and indentured workers from such countries as Netherlands, Germany, France, Scotland and some other countries who were brought to the Cape area in southwestern South Africa between 1652 and 1705. It is worth to mention that most of indentured workers and slaves were Khoi and San people of South Africa.
The name of the language means ‘African’ in Dutch and before the beginning of the 20th century, the language was considered to be a Dutch dialect. Only in 1925, it was recognized as a distinct language from Dutch.
When it comes to the origin of the Afrikaans language, there are some disagreements. Actually, there are two main theories used by linguists. The first one states that the language was originally developed first as a pidgin, and then as a creole to allow Dutch settlers and African and South Asian workers to communicate. The second one says it was based on the structure and vocabulary of the Dutch language and is to be considered as a creole.
When it comes to the standard Africaans, there are strong anti-English sentiments. Nevertheless, the colloquial or spoken language is strongly influenced by English. It has a great amount of phonological, grammatical and lexical borrowings and code-switchings.
Due to the contact with different immigrant groups, the Africaans language has a great variety of dialects. Generally, linguist identify three of them. They are Cape Afrikaans influenced by the language of Malay slaves, Orange River Afrikaans influenced by the neighboring Khoi languages and East Cape Afrikaans which appeared as the result of a contact between Dutch and English settlers and the Xhosa tribes of Southern and Eastern Cape areas.
The written language consists of 26 letters borrowed from the Latin alphabet. The vocabulary of the Afrikaans language has a Dutch origin. Nevertheless, it was strongly influenced by various languages, including English, Xhosa, Malay, Portuguese and many others.