The Info List - South African English

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South African English
South African English
(SAfrE, SAfrEng, SAE, en-ZA[1]) is the set of English dialects spoken by native South Africans.


1 History 2 Varieties 3 Phonetics 4 Lexicon

4.1 History of SAE Dictionaries 4.2 Expressions

5 Demographics 6 Examples of South African accents 7 See also 8 References 9 Bibliography 10 Further reading 11 External links

History[edit] British colonizers first introduced English to the South African region in 1795, when they established a military holding operation at the Cape. The goal of this first endeavor was to gain control of a key Cape sea route, not to establish a permanent settler colony.[2] However, the first major influx of English speakers arrived in 1820. About 5000 British settlers, mostly rural or working class, settled in the eastern Cape.[2] Though the British were a minority colonist group (the Dutch had been in the region since 1652, when traders from the Dutch East India
Company developed a post), the Cape Colony governor, Lord Charles Somerset, declared English an official language in 1822.[2] In order to spread the influence of English in the colony, officials began to recruit British schoolmasters and Scottish clergy to occupy positions in the education and church systems.[2] Another group of English speakers arrived from Britain in the 1840's and 1850's, along with the Natal settlers. As Roger Lass[who?] writes, these were largely "standard speakers" like retired military personnel and aristocrats. The third wave of English settlers arrived between 1875 and 1904, and brought with them a diverse variety of English dialects. These last two waves did not have as large of an influence on South African English
South African English
(SAE), for "the seeds of development were already sown in 1820".[2] However, the Natal wave brought nostalgia for British customs and helped to define the idea of a "standard".[2] In the Apartheid
Era, English and Afrikaans
were the standard state languages.[3] After 1994, nine other languages from the Bantu subfamily of Niger Kordorfanian languages achieved equal official state status.[3] Varieties[edit] Several South African English
South African English
varieties have emerged, accompanied by varying levels of perceived social prestige. Roger Lass refers to White South African
White South African
English as a system of three sub-varieties spoken primarily by White South Africans, termed the "The Great Trichotomy", that was first used to categorize Australian English
Australian English
varieties and subsequently applied to SAE.[2]. In this classification, the "Cultivated" variety closely approximates England's standard Received Pronunciation and is associated with the upper class; the "General" variety is a social indicator of the middle class; and the "Broad" variety is associated with the working class, low socioeconomic status, and little education.[2] These three sub-varieties have also been called "Conservative SAE", "Respectable SAE", and "Extreme SAE".[2] Broad White South African
White South African
English closely approximates the second-language variety of Afrikaners called Afrikaans
English. At least two sociolinguistic variants have been definitively studied on a post-creole continuum for the second-language Black South African English spoken by most Black South Africans: a high-end, prestigious "acrolect" and a more middle-ranging, mainstream "mesolect". Other varieties of South African English
South African English
include Cape Flats English, originally associated with inner-city Cape Coloured
Cape Coloured
speakers, and the Indian South African
Indian South African
English of Indian South Africans.[4] Phonetics[edit] Main article: South African English
South African English
phonology Like English in south-east England, such as London, South African English is non-rhotic (except for some Afrikaans-influenced speakers, see below) and features the trap–bath split. The two main phonological indicators of South African English
South African English
are the behaviour of the vowels in kit and bath. The kit vowel tends to be "split" so that there is a clear allophonic variation between the near-front [ɪ] and central [ɪ̈]. The bath vowel is characteristically open and back in the General and Broad varieties of SAE. The tendency to monophthongise both /aʊ/ and /aɪ/ to [ɑː] and [aː] respectively, are also typical features of General and Broad SAE.[citation needed] Features involving consonants include the tendency for voiceless plosives to be unaspirated in stressed word-initial environments, [tj] tune and [dj] dune tend to be realised as [tʃ] and [dʒ] respectively (See Yod coalescence), and /h/ has a strong tendency to be voiced initially. Lexicon[edit] History of SAE Dictionaries[edit] In 1913, Charles Pettman created the first South African English dictionary, entitled Africanderisms. This work sought to identify Afrikaans
terms that were emerging in the English language[5]. In 1924, the Oxford University Press published its first version of a South African English
South African English
dictionary, The South African Pocket Oxford Dictionary. Subsequent editions of this dictionary have tried to take a "'broad editorial approach'" in including vocabulary terms native to South Africa, though the extent of this inclusion has been contested [5]. Rhodes University (South Africa) and Oxford University (Great Britain) worked together to produced the 1978 Dictionary of South American English, which adopted a more conservative approach to its inclusion of terms. This dictionary did include, for the first time, what they deemed ''the jargon of townships,'" which were vocabulary terms found in Black journalism and literary circles [5]. Dictionaries specializing in scientific jargon, such as the common names of South African plants, also emerged in the twentieth century. However, these works still often relied on Latin terminology and European pronunciation systems [5]. As of 1992, Rajend Mesthrie had produced the only available dictionary of South African Indian English
Indian English
[5]. Expressions[edit] One expression, common especially among Afrikaans
people, is to come with, as in "are they coming with?"[6] This is influenced by the Afrikaans
phrase hulle kom saam, literally 'they come together', with saam being misinterpreted as with.[7] In Afrikaans, saamkom is a separable verb, similar to meekomen in Dutch and mitkommen in German, which is translated into English as 'to come along'.[8] "Come with?" is also encountered in areas of the Upper Midwest of the United States, which had a large number of Scandinavian, Dutch and German immigrants, who, when speaking English, translated equivalent phrases directly from their own languages.[9] Demographics[edit] The South African National Census of 2011
South African National Census of 2011
found a total of 4,892,623 speakers of English as a first language,[10]:23 making up 9.6% of the national population.[10]:25 The provinces with significant English-speaking populations were the Western Cape
Western Cape
(20.2% of the provincial population), Gauteng
(13.3%) and KwaZulu-Natal (13.2%).[10]:25 English was spoken across all ethnic groups in South Africa. The breakdown of English-speakers according to the conventional racial classifications used by Statistics South Africa
South Africa
is described in the following table.

Population group English-speakers[10]:26 % of population group[10]:27 % of total English-speakers

Black African 1,167,913 2.9 23.9

Coloured 945,847 20.8 19.3

Indian or Asian 1,094,317 86.1 22.4

White 1,603,575 35.9 32.8

Other 80,971 29.5 1.7

Total 4,892,623 9.6 100.0

Examples of South African accents[edit] The following examples of South African accents were obtained from George Mason University:

Native English: Male (Cape Town, South Africa) Native English: Female (Cape Town, South Africa) Native English: Male (Port Elizabeth, South Africa) Native English: Male (Nigel, South Africa)

See also[edit]

South Africa
South Africa
portal Language portal

List of English words of Afrikaans
origin List of lexical differences in South African English List of South African slang words Standard written English Regional accents of English


^ en-ZA is the language code for South African English, as defined by ISO standards (see ISO 639-1 and ISO 3166-1 alpha-2) and Internet standards (see IETF language tag). ^ a b c d e f g h i Language in South Africa. Mesthrie, Rajend. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. 2002. ISBN 9780521791052. OCLC 56218975.  ^ a b Mesthrie, R. South Africa: Language Situation. pp. 539–542. doi:10.1016/b0-08-044854-2/01664-3.  ^ Kortmann, Bernd; Schneider, Edgar W., eds. (2004). A Handbook of Varieties of English. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-017532-5.  ^ a b c d e Taylor, Tim (1994). "Review of A Lexicon of South African Indian English". Anthropological Linguistics. 36 (4): 521–524.  ^ Africa, South and Southeast Asia, Rajend Mesthrie, Mouton de Gruyter, 2008, page 475 ^ A handbook of varieties of English: a multimedia reference tool. Morphology and syntax, Volume 2, Bernd Kortmann, Mouton de Gruyter, 2004, page 951 ^ Pharos Tweetalige skoolwoordeboek/Pharos Bilingual school dictionary, Pharos Dictionaries, Pharos, 2014 ^ What's with 'come with'?, Chicago Tribune, December 8, 2010 ^ a b c d e Census 2011: Census in brief (PDF). Pretoria: Statistics South Africa. 2012. ISBN 9780621413885. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 May 2015. 


de Gruyter, Walter (2008). Africa, South and Southeast Asia (Ph.D.).  Lass, Roger (2002), "South African English", in Mesthrie, Rajend, Language in South Africa, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521791052 

Further reading[edit]

Bekker, Ian (2012), "The story of South African English: A brief linguistic overview", International Journal of Language, Translation and Intercultural Communication, 1, doi:10.12681/ijltic.16  Branford, William (1994), "9: English in South Africa", in Burchfield, Robert, The Cambridge History of the English Language, 5: English in Britain and Overseas: Origins and Development, Cambridge University Press, pp. 430–496, ISBN 0-521-26478-2  De Klerk, Vivian, ed. (1996), Focus on South Africa, John Benjamins Publishing, ISBN 90-272-4873-7  Lanham, Len W. (1979), The Standard in South African English
South African English
and Its Social History, Heidelberg: Julius Groos Verlag, ISBN 3-87276-210-9 

External links[edit]

English Academy of South Africa Picard, Brig (Dr) J. H, SM, MM. "English for the South African Armed Forces" at the Wayback Machine
Wayback Machine
(archived 22 June 2008) Zimbabwean Slang Dictionary "Surfrikan", South African surfing slang The influence of Afrikaans
on SA English (in Dutch) The Expat Portal
RSA Slang Several Samples of The Dialect

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