Is Afrikaans Worth Learning? 8 Reasons To Learn It
When it comes to learning new languages, there are a lot of options to choose from. Each language has its own unique benefits and drawbacks, and whether or not a language is worth learning usually depends on the learner.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the reasons why you might want to consider learning Afrikaans, as well as highlight some of the benefits an English speaker will gain by choosing this language over another.
8 reasons why Afrikaans is worth learning
Afrikaans is one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn
Afrikaans belongs to the same language family as English, that is West Germanic. This means that if you’re an English speaker, you already have a head start when it comes to learning Afrikaans.
You’ll see plenty of similarities between the 2 languages, with regards to vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure, and so on, more than you would with many other languages.
The languages share a lot of common words that only slightly differ in spelling and pronunciation. Which means that you can often figure out the meaning of a word just by looking at it, even if you’ve never heard it before.
For example, the Afrikaans word for “dog” is “hond”, which looks and sounds a lot like the English word “hound”.
(Check out our post Is Afrikaans An Easy Language To Learn? to see other features that make it easy for English speakers.)
The language has been simplified, so you’ll see fast progress
During its development, Afrikaans underwent some major changes and simplifications, dropping many of the things that make Dutch difficult to learn.
For example, Afrikaans doesn’t have grammatical genders or verbs that change based on who is doing the action.
As grammar is one of the main things that people struggle with when learning a new language, this makes Afrikaans much easier and faster to learn than other languages.
It’s useful for travel, trade and business around southern Africa
Afrikaans is one of the 11 official languages of South Africa, and is also spoken in Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. The language is also becoming more widely spoken in other parts of Africa as more and more people are exposed to it through the Internet and South African media.
This means that if you’re planning on traveling or doing business in any of these countries, learning Afrikaans will give you a big advantage. With South Africa becoming the economic powerhouse of Africa, knowing Afrikaans will only become more and more valuable.
The South African movie industry is thriving
South Africa has a thriving movie industry, and Afrikaans-language movies are becoming increasingly popular both in southern Africa and abroad.
It’s not uncommon to see Hollywood-quality movies and storytelling coming out of South Africa (District 9, anyone?).
If you’re a fan of movies, learning Afrikaans will give you access to a whole new world of cinema. (Check out our post, The Top Afrikaans Movies To Watch On Netflix and Amazon Prime, for a list of Afrikaans-language movies to stream.)
If you’re a fan of movies, learning Afrikaans will allow you to enjoy these films in their original language, without having to wait for an English translation.
Afrikaans sounds nice and is relatively easy to pronounce
If you’ve ever learned a foreign language, you know that one of the hardest things can be getting used to the new sounds and pronunciations.
This isn’t an issue with Afrikaans, as the vast majority of words are pronounced exactly as they’re spelled (it’s a phonetic language).
Plus, Afrikaans has a very pleasant sound, thanks to its many soft consonants. It’s softer than Dutch and sounds nothing like the guttural Germanic languages. You’ll have a lot of fun hearing yourself speak in it.
You’ll be able to understand Dutch
As you probably already know, Dutch and Afrikaans are very similar languages. In fact, they’re considered to be mutually intelligible.
This means that if you learn Afrikaans, you’ll also be able to understand Dutch. And since Dutch is a major language spoken in Europe and parts of Africa, this can be a big advantage both professionally and personally.
Plus, you’ll also be able to enjoy Dutch films, music and literature without having to wait for an English translation, and without going through the grueling task of learning Dutch grammar, which is harder than Afrikaans’.
You’ll pick up plenty of indigenous vocabulary
Afrikaans isn’t just Dutch with a few different words. It has its own unique vocabulary, derived from the many different languages spoken in southern Africa and beyond. You’ll find words from Malay, Portuguese, Zulu and more in Afrikaans.
This gives the language a richness that you won’t find in other languages, and makes it all the more fun to learn.
Other Germanic languages will be easier to learn
Due to the language’s Germanic roots, if you learn Afrikaans, other Germanic languages will be easier for you to pick up.
German, for instance, is like a not so distant relative of Afrikaans, as both languages belong to the same branch of the Germanic family tree. You’ll see plenty of similar words appear in both languages.
If you plan on learning German in the future, it might be worth learning Afrikaans in order to help demystify that much harder language.
It isn’t just West Germanic languages that become marginally easier to learn/understand. Due to the shared roots, Afrikaans speakers can get language discounts on North Germanic languages like Swedish, Norwegian and Danish.
So there you have it, a list of reasons why Afrikaans is worth learning, and why you should seriously consider adding it to your language repertoire.
Whether you’re looking for a new challenge, want to improve your career prospects, or simply want to enjoy Afrikaans cinema and literature, there’s no reason not to give this unique language a try.