A lot of people consider Afrikaans the simplified Dutch. So, learning useful phrases in Afrikaans may help you in South Africa and in the Netherlands. For example, in Dutch (and in German) verbs are conjugated depending on pronoun (e.g. Dutch: Ik drink, Je dinkt, German: Ich trinke, du trinkst, English: I drink, you drink). In Afrikaans, all verbs are the same regardless of the pronoun. “I drink” (Ek drink) is the same as “We drink” (Ons drink), and “I am” (Ek is…) is the same as “They are” (Hulle is…), and so on.
One of the characteristics of Afrikaans that sets it apart from both Dutch and German, is that a double-negative is almost always used in negating sentences. For example, the sentence “I do not speak English”, in Afrikaans is “Ek praat nie Engels nie.”, which literally means “I speak not English not.” Another example would be: “I am not hungry”, which is “Ek is nie honger nie.” (I am not hungry not.)
Despite its similarity to German, Afrikaans does not use the infamous German umlauts (ä, ü, ö) the same way. “ä” and “ü” do not exist at all, but you will find the occasional “ö” and even an “ë”. However, their pronunciation, as well as the pronunciation of other accented or circumflexed vowels is distinctly different from how they are used in German. A double-dotted vowel (ö and ë) simply indicate a syllable-emphasis. For example in the word “koördinator”, the umlaut-o merely indicates to separate the two-o sounds: ko-ordinator. But the sound of o and ö is the same. The word letter “ë”, on the other hand, which can either be short or long, (such as ‘met’ or “meet”), accentuates the specific letter, as opposed to blending the vowels together. For example, in the the word “geëet” (pron: ge-ee-et, “eaten”), the double-dotted ë indicates a separation of the vowel sounds (eh-ee-eh, not one long “eee”).
The circumflexed vowel “ê”, (similar to the shot-a sound in English, like “hat”, but more like “fair”), also indicates to put emphasis on that particular syllable in the word. For example the word “wêreld” would be pronounced “WA-reld”.
The language of the Xhosa people, referred to “isiXhosa” (“isi” is the prefix used before languages. The language “English” in isiXhosa is isiNgesi, “German” would be isiJamani”) is unique in the way that it is one of the few languages (there are less than 40 languages world wide) that have clicking sounds. It is spoken by about 8.2 million people as a first language, and an additional 11 million as a second language in South Africa. In isiXhosa, there are three clicking sounds, used for the letter “c”, “x” and “q”. All three clicks are created on an inward-breath. The word “Xhosa”, beginning with the “x” is pronounced “CLICK-osa”. In terms of grammar, isiXhosa is a language that doesn’t specifically use pronouns for conjugation. Instead, the verb spelling changes, typically by adding a pronoun specific prefix. So it is not a S-V-O language, but more of a S/V-O language.
The word hungry is “ndilambile”. I am hungry is also “ndilambile”, and both you are hungry, and he/she/it is hungry, is “ulambile”. Below is a list of useful phrases both in Afrikaans (first row) and isiXhosa (second row)
1. Hello! Hallo!
Molo (One person) Molweni (more than one person)
2. How are you? Hoe gaan dit?
Kunjani? (one person) Ninjani ? (more than one person)
3. I am fine. Dit gaan goed met my./ Goet dankie.
4. My name is Robin. My naam is Robin.
Igama lam nguRobin.
5. Pleasure / Nice to meet you! Angename kennis.
6. Do you speak English? Praat jy Engels?
7. Where is the bathroom/pharmacy/bank? Waar is die toilet/apteek/bank?
8. Could you repeat that please? Sê weer asseblief.
9. I do not understand! Ek verstaan nie.
Andikuva ukuba uthini.or Andikuva kakuhle
10. I am hungry/thirsty! Ek is honger/ dors.
11. I feel sick. Ek voel siek.
12. Good morning/evening/night. Goeie more/ goeie naand/ goeie nag.
Molo (one person) Molweni (more than one person).
13. How much is this? Hoe veel is dit?
14. Thank you! Dankie!
15. Excuse me/Pardon… Verskoon my.
16. Yes, please! Ja asseblief.
17. No, thank you! Nee dankie.
18. One water/beer/juice, please! Een water/bier/sap, asseblief.
Nicela amanzi/ ibhiya/ijusi.
19. The check, please! Rekening asseblief.
20. Take me to the hotel/airport please. Vat my hotel toe/ lughawe toe asseblief.
Ndicela undise ehotele/ e-airport.