Local TV stars respond to Charlize Theron: 'Afrikaans is alive and kicking'

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 Charlize Theron.  (Photo: RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
Charlize Theron. (Photo: RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
  • In an American podcast Charlize Theron said Afrikaans is 'dying'.
  • Her remarks have caused outrage back home.
  • Local TV stars have weighed in on the topic.

"There's about 44 people still speaking it. It's definitely a dying language; it's not a very helpful language."

A flippant comment made by South African actor Charlize Theron on an American podcast has caused a rumble back home and soon became a trending topic on Twitter.

The Academy Award-winning actor was talking to hosts Sean Hayes, Jason Bateman, and Will Arnett on a new episode of SmartLess when she referred to Afrikaans as "dying" and "not very helpful". 

Local Afrikaans stars were quick to correct the Mad Max actor on her statement.

"I wouldn’t say that the language is dying. I think we are in a beautiful place in our country now where there is so much inclusivity for the diversity of Afrikaans and the roots of Afrikaans. Varied roots of Afrikaans. It's almost like we have rebirth of Afrikaans," said Suidooster star Jawaahier Petersen.

Petersen added; "People are taking ownership of the language and it doesn't belong to one particular group of people, the language belongs to the people who speak it. I don’t think it's dying; the standardised or formalised version of the language has now taken a new shape and that's a beautiful thing for this country and a beautiful thing for the people who speak the language and the ownership of the language for the country."

Roeline Daneel, from the local series Fraksie, said she doesn't like getting involved in debates about language, but pointed out; "I believe a language evolves organically and if we're speaking it, it exists. Debates around Afrikaans often turn political, which is understandable considering our history. I don't think it helps the language or those speaking it. I love speaking Afrikaans. The language is not dead or obsolete. It's a language in which there are so many new films, books, poetry, and academic work published every year. It's alive and kicking."

Afrikaans star Lea Vivier added; "I always find it upsetting when an individual in the public eye makes an uninformed blanket statement. Not only does it underestimate a very diverse cultural group and its people, but it also insults the growth and progress that Afrikaans is making. It's a rich and diverse language. I lost a lot of respect for her. No language is ever 'not helpful'."

Mila Guy,  known for her role in the kykNet television series Hotel, called Charlize's comments ignorant; "We've got a whole channel, kykNET, dedicated to people speaking the language and it's extremely popular on DStv. Even people who emigrate still speak their home language. You take your language with you. It's a big part of your identity and who you are. You always go back to your mother tongue. To say something like that is almost like her trying to wash us away. It's her roots."

Suidooster star Dean Smith added, "Afrikaans is more than just a language. It's history, it's culture, it's my origin. As long as I'm alive, Afrikaans can't possibly be dead. I'm Afrikaans."

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