Afrikaans is a West Germanic language mainly spoken in South Africa and Namibia. It was originally the dialect that developed among the Afrikaner Protestant settlers, the unfree workers, and slaves brought to the Cape area in southwestern South Africa by the Dutch East India Company (Dutch language: Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie - VOC) between 1652 and 1705. Most of these first settlers were from the United Provinces (now Netherlands), though there were also many from Germany, some from France, a few from Scotland, and various other countries. The unfree workers and slaves were Malays, and Malagasy in addition to the native Khoi and Bushmen.
Research by J. A. Heese says that until 1807, 36.8% of the ancestors of the White Afrikaans speaking population were Dutch, 35% were German, 14.6% were French and 7.2% non-white (of African and/or Asian origins).
Heese's figures are questioned by other researchers, however, and especially the non-white component quoted by Heese is very much in doubt.
A sizeable minority of those who spoke Afrikaans as a first language were not white. The dialect became known as "Cape Dutch". Later, Afrikaans was sometimes called "African Dutch" or "Kitchen Dutch". Afrikaans was considered a Dutch dialect until the early 20th century, when it began to be widely known as a different language. The name Afrikaans is simply the Dutch word for African, and the language is the African form of Dutch.
- ↑ What follows are estimations. Afrikaans has 16.3 million speakers; see de Swaan 2001, p. 216. Afrikaans has a total of 16 million speakers; see Machan 2009, p. 174. About 9 million people speak Afrikaans as a second or third language; see Alant 2004, p. 45, Proost 2006, p. 402. Afrikaans has over 5 million native speakers and 15 million second language speakers; see Réguer 2004, p. 20. Afrikaans has about 6 million native and 16 million second language speakers; see Domínguez & López 1995, p. 340. In South Africa, over 23 million people speak Afrikaans, of which a third are first-language speakers; see Page & Sonnenburg 2003, p. 7. L2 "Black Afrikaans" is spoken, with different degrees of fluency, by an estimated 15 million; see Stell 2008-11, p. 1.