Boer language, Afrikaans, Nederlands: differences. A question for Ron PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 13 January 2012 10:00


17 December, 2011
From the editor of “” to the editor of “Republican Trekker Volk” website.

Hi Ron,
I'd like to ask you a question. The language of the Boers (de Taal) was closer to modern Afrikaans or to Nederlands?

Dr. Lets Pretorius wrote:
“Until round and about the 1930’s, Netherlands were the spoken language of the Boervolk/nation, but was prohibited by law under the Afrikaner government of the Union of South Africa in the 1930’s.”
(article is here: Letter from the Boerevolk to UNPO - Lets Pretorius, 23 April 2011)

18 December, 2011
From the editor of  “Republican Trekker Volk” website to the editor of “”.

Simbole van sy Volk se VryheidHi Maccio

Thanks. I appreciate your interest in this topic. The dialect of the Boers is an interesting topic in itself because it certainly is close to the Cape Dutch dialect but with a few more loanwords & spoken in a different accent. Now Lets Pretorius is half right. Dutch was the WRITTEN language of the Boers [ notice that the Boer Republics were spelled in a Dutch fashion ie: Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek instead of Suid Afrikaans Republiek / Oranje Vrij Staat instead of Oranje Vry Staat etc. ] but Dutch was NEVER the spoken language of the Boers as the Boers developed their own dialect of what was later termed Afrikaans. Afrikaans was a term applied to ALL of the various so called "Dutch" [ High Dutch / Low German ] dialects which arose at the Cape. Pretorius concludes that the Boers spoke Dutch only because the various Afrikaans dialects were not then recognized as official & because the Boers had to learn Dutch as Netherlands Dutch was used in the Church & affairs of the State & also because many Boers might have referred to their dialect as Dutch by default - though as I noted before: the Boers often just called their dialect the taal.

The Boer dialect was probably closer to the dialects spoken in the north west region of the modern German state - but this is not conclusive for the simple reason that Dutch was imposed at the Cape [ ie: one had to try to learn it in order to communicate ] & the Boers certainly adopted [ & created their own dialect ] the emerging lingua franca developing at the Cape which was significantly influenced by Malay & Portuguese. But I am also aware that a lot of German immigrants to the Cape settled directly in the northeastern region - where the Boers developed so I would have to defer to an expert or someone who could explain how much of an impact those Germans had on the developing Boer dialect.

The Boer dialect is still a bit shrouded in mystery to me because Theuns Cloete noted that the Boer dialect was removed from Parliament & prohibited in around 1921 - 1923. The Cape Dutch did take control of Afrikaans & standardize it which did include removing certain words from the Boer dialect & "Dutchifying" [ what they termed cleaning up ] it but the Boers still have their own dialect as far as I can tell as there are still marked accent & pronunciation differences.

The letter of Lets Pretorius contains another error: namely the erroneous assertion that the Boers had Cape Dutch support during the second Anglo-Boer War. I think he too must be confusing the Boers of the Cape frontier [ who of course did support the Boers of the republics ] with the Cape Dutch of the western Cape region. I have noticed to my shock that a lot of other folks seem to make the same mistake [ not Theuns Cloete though - much to my relief - as he correctly pointed on in interviews that the Cape Rebels were Boers from the Cape frontier not Cape Dutch ] of presuming that the Cape Rebels were Cape Dutch [ I think they get tripped up on the term Cape ] while forgetting that there have always been Boers on the Cape frontier.

Since the true & full history of the Boers was rarely if ever taught in the schools of the 20th cent: that is probably why so many seem to be ignorant of the facts. Authors like Michael Barthorp are also under this deception as he used the terms Cape Dutch / Afrikaner & Boer so interchangeably & even often in the wrong circumstances. There is such a shocking lack of insight on who the actual Boer people are & some folks seem to be deliberately confusing the topic. In order to prevent the Boers from reclaiming their self determination.