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English in Africa
Group 6
Đặng Như Ngọc
Nguyễn Ngọc Na
Trần Thị Bích Thư

1. Introduction
2. South Africa English spelling
3. South Africa English phonology and grammar

4. Lexicon


English came to South
roughly at the same
time as it arrived in
The first real settlement

eastern Cape in 1820 as
a result of the British
Government’s attempts
to recruit prospective

The early settlers came from various parts of the British Isles,
yet predominantly from southern England, and were mainly
of working-class or lower middle-class backgrounds.
In the 1850s a new wave of immigrants, mostly from the
Midlands, Yorkshire and Lancashire and of middle- and
upper-middle-class origin, arrived and settled in Natal on
the eastern seaboard.
Major settlements later in the nineteenth century were
particularly related to the diamond and gold mines.

As a result of the rather different
regional and above all social structures
of the early settlements, two South
African varieties of English emerged: in
Natal, which maintained closer ties to
Britain, Standard EngE was emulated as
the prestige model, whereas “Cape
English”, which was characterised by

Cockney-like features, carried low

As in other southern-hemisphere varieties of ‘transported
English’, RP was the model until long after the Second World
War, but has now been replaced by ‘respectable SAfE’, largely
based on the Natal accent.

SAfE differs from other
transported varieties such
as AusE, NZE, CanE and AmE
in always having existed in
a complex multilingual and
multicultural environment
(Silva 1998:70).

Hence the influence from other languages is more marked, especially
in the lexicon, and it is more difficult to ‘isolate’ the first-language
variety from English as used by competent L2 speakers. It should also
be pointed out that first language users of present-day SAfE
represent a range of different societal and regional groups, for
example ‘coloured’ speakers in Cape Town, white speakers of East
Cape origin, Indian speakers (mainly in Natal), white speakers with a
Natal accent, and white members of the Transvaal working class

(Branford 1994:472).
As a variety in its own right, South African English (SAfE) has been
codified in several dictionaries, most recently in A Dictionary of South
African English on Historical Principles, published by Oxford University
Press in 1996. This dictionary represents all ethnic varieties of English
in the country but gives information on the provenance of regional or
‘group’ vocabulary for words that may not be widely familiar to South
Africans (Silva 1998:82)

South Africa
English spelling

- SAfE follows British conventions, as codified in the
Oxford dictionary described earlier.
- The majority of lexical items borrowed from Afrikaans
and African languages are not anglicized in any way:
1. braai
2. lekker
3. chommie
4. howzit
5. shame

‘ friend’, ‘mate’
‘ hello’

For example:

1. Yesterday’s braai was so lekker.

=> Yesterday’s barbecue was so nice.
2. We’re chommie.
=> We’re friend.

3. Howzit?
=>How are you?
=>How is it?
4. Oh, shame.
=> It’s so adorable!

South Africa English
phonology and grammar

- The KIT split was referenced to as an example of allophonic variation in
our list of conspicuous qualities, which seems to be the prevalent view
today (cf. Lass 1987:304, Bowerman 2008:170)
- According to Wells (1982:612ff.), however, it is possible to argue for the
existence of two different phonemes, namely /ɪ/ and /ə/, at least in broad
accents, in which words like kit and bit do not even rhyme.

SAfE is firmly nonrhotic to the degree of not even having
linking or intrusive /r/ as observed in a great number of its
speakers. Prevocalic /r/ is a fricative, tap or trill.

/l/ is generally clear but nevertheless seems to have a
lowering effect on a preceding DRESS or GOAT.

Afrikaans-based lexical items, such as ag, often exemplify the
voiceless fricative [x], which has become a feature of SAfE,
although it does not enjoy phonemic status.

The morphology and syntax of formal SAfE can hardly be
distinguished from Standard EngE or General English. In informal
speech, the following characteristics are often found:
‘non-negative’ no as sentence-initiator
Ex: A: Isn’t your car ready yet?
B: No, it is.
- As a reinforcing marker of the progressive aspect
Ex: busy is used with certain verbs where it does not have its normal
sense of ‘activity’, as in He was busy lying in bed.
- is it? is used as a kind of ‘all-purpose response
Ex: A: He’s left for St Helena.

B: Is it?


Most of the basic topographical vocabulary.

For example:
veld [velt, felt]
used as a national symbol
‘open country’
‘broad high grassland’
backveld ‘back country’
drift ‘ford’
rand ‘ridge’
platteland ‘inland countryside’

tends to be the only one included in general dictionaries such
as the Encarta World English Dictionary.

Dorp ‘small town’

location originally ‘an area
of land granted for


urban area
for blacks’

Location and township represent the categories
‘partial tautonym + heteronym’

Flora and fauna
Borrowings from Dutch/Afrikaans denoting similar-looking but often
unrelated species:
For example:
Boekenhout ‘beech’ (BONFIRE NIGHT)
Tiger ‘leopard’ (ROBIN)

partial tautonyms (but only one as seen
from an English perspective)

Other BONFIRE NIGHT words are loan translations or Dutch coinages:

For example:
Tinkwood ‘a hardwood
tree’ Fynbos ‘delicate

a special vegetation
type found in the

coastal areas of the

a key environmental

Words denoting people
This is an extremely complex and difficult category, which has been the
subject of a lot of research due to the ethnic diversity in South Africa and the
tremendous social and political developments.
For example:

labeled vulgar and a misnomer
but persists in nonstandard spoken language.


a human noun


least seven different meanings (from ‘Dutchspeaking
farmer’ to ‘the South African government’)


used in the sense of ‘South African of mixed descent’,
distinguished from ‘black’ as well as ‘white’


Kinship, relationships, politics
There are a number of early borrowings from Dutch/Afrikaans:
oom ‘uncle’
‘respectful third-person address’
oupa ‘grandpa’
baas ‘master’
trek in the sense of ‘emigrate’ (originally ‘pull’)
Both as noun and verb.
the most widely used South African words in the
English-speaking world’

many senses and derivatives

become ‘a powerful symbol of
national endeavour’.

Sadly, apartheid 'separateness’, first documented in 1929 and used in the meaning of
'segregation’ from 1947, is arguably the most well-known word in this category.

for your attention !