Suddenly quite a few Afrikaans bloggers also write in English. I suppose it is to get more readers, also from overseas? Unfortunately the translation button does not work so well and some words are translated downright funny!
I used to be an Afrikaans teacher and love the language, but here I am tonight trying my hand at English, for no particular reason, but only because other bloggers inspired me, and because I actually love doing the English bit now and then. I have written quite a few English poems in the past if you care to look through the category: Gedigte en rympies van Verlange. A lot of the writings in my personal diary are in English as well.
Like all Afrikaans pupils in a predominantly Afrikaans school, I mostly only learned English at school, and although my parents could speak it very well, and even though I read a lot of English books, I hardly ever spoke it. In those days we were brought up to be so scared of making a mistake, that we would rather not try to speak the Rooitaal at all, if possible. Someone might just laugh at you!
So this very Afrikaans teacher got her first job: Afrikaans teacher for quite a few immigrant children, most of them from England and Scotland. I was thrown in at the deep end in a class full of teenagers who could not understand even one word of Afrikaans.
It was an experience that would change my life in more ways than one, an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life, but also an experience that taught me to speak English! “Miss, your tongue ties. When you want to say something like ‘don’t do that , do this,’ you say: ‘don’t do dat do dis”….but it’s ok, miss, we understand what you mean!”
I also learnt an important lesson, especially after I went overseas: It is OK to make mistakes in a second or a third language. The main thing is to be able to communicate in it, not how perfect you can speak it. Yes, we all strive for perfection, but seeing that most people in the world can only speak one language, and if they mastered a second language , it is often of quite a poor standard, we need not be ashamed if a mistake or two slips through, at all.
(So an Italian chap and I once spent a whole evening on the train station in Milan talking in German! We both had it at school and our German was equally bad, but it was the only other language he knew.With a lot of hand gestures and repetitions, he was able to tell me that he is part of the station police, that it is very dangerous for a girl alone on the station, and therefore he will wait with me until my train comes and that his brother is studying to become a doctor under Chris Barnard in Cape Town, South Africa.}
We in South Africa are actually VERY well educated where languages are concerned. We can all speak at least 2 languages very well, and some of us can speak quite a lot of languages.
This reminds me of a black man I met a few years ago. I had to visit the Air Force here at our town with two names: Waenhuiskrans if you are Afrikaans, or if you are English: Arniston. They asked me if I would give one of their members a lift back to town.
So this very big Xhosa got in my car next to me. “Do you speak English of Afrikaans?” I asked, as I cannot speak Xhosa.
” English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Sotho, Zulu, Pedi, Swahili, French, German, and Portuguese,” he answered. He might even have mentioned a few more languages, but this is what I can remember. I was intrigued. How was this possible?
He explained to me that he grew up in the Transkei and learned Afrikaans at school. He then went to Transvaal, where he encountered Sotho and Zulu and of course English. During the struggle years he was trained as a soldier in Botswana and I think Mozambique as well. He ventured further into Africa, where French is often spoken. He also met some German people and learned their language. He now works as a translator for the South African Air Force.
I was so impressed. How did he manage to learn all these languages? His answer was a lesson in itself and left me, a child of Africa , quite ashamed .
‘You know,” he said :” It is just a matter of attitude” .