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English as She is Spoke

25 March 2012, 15:17

Are we developing a new language? Do you also get the impression that some South Africans are speaking in a foreign tongue?

A few decades ago the manner in which Afrikaans people spoke English, reflected their lack of understanding of the language. This was especially true of those from farms and rural areas. They grew up in fairly closed communities – with little or no exposure to the manner in which the British language was spoken; and without many opportunities in which to practice speaking the “Rooitaal.”

But even those Afrikaners who had to use English on the public platform, seemed reluctant to speak BBC English. I distinctly remember the harsh, guttural sounds coming from Nat politicians (and dominees) when they made their mind-numbing speeches over the radio and television.

It was as if they wanted to show that they had little use – and even less respect – for the language of the people who once declared war on their forefathers; and who put women and children into concentration camps.

The way in which a white, Afrikaans “konstabel,” from the SA Police used to speak English, became a standing joke.

Times have changed. Nowadays most Afrikaners speak more acceptable English; softer – with a less distinct dialect and accent. Maybe because the Boer War is finally forgotten and all is forgiven? Who knows?

Some time ago, the guy from our gardening services came to me and said that he wanted bed seat. At first I thought he wanted a place to rest his weary bones, but after some close questioning it finally dawned on me that he wanted bird seed; for the bird feeder in our garden.

Since then, I have been listening closely to the way my fellow Africans speak English. I am convinced that, like the Afrikaners, their reasons for articulating English words the way they do, are very similar. Firstly, English is a language that was forced upon them. Then: isolated communities, lack of exposure to proper English pronunciation, incompetent English schoolteachers, and no real feeling or respect for the language. Or maybe thinking that it is cool to speak Kasi language? (And maybe just a little hatred for the colonialists?)

We are all familiar with the following wets (words): lennas (learners), teechas (teachers), wekkas (workers), sokka (soccer), cheeps (chips), and Malema’s favourite: pee pull (people).

I sometimes feel as if I can scream blue medda, when some hutless jennaleest, repotting on the rye-otts over seevass deelee varry, tells us that all the putties and other roll playas will meet around the taybull to discuss the challeenjhas.

The pee pull always have a long leest of issues which they wish to communicate in the converzation: chobs, free electree suttee, Arrdeepee howzees, and the creamaneel ellie munts – peppa traytas from other countries – who steal their chobs.     

Finally, I leave you with these wets, as a putting shot: If you feel like committing medda – try to rememba that it has always been hut to educate the pee pull in all the countries that have been conquered (and lost) throughout history.

Now try saying: “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.”

“The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.”

By George, you’ve got it!

Capital! Jolly nice show! There’s a good chap, whot?

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