I live in a country that has 11 official languages. Yes, you read right ELEVEN. Most whities like me speak English and Afrikaans. Afrikaans is very similar to Dutch.
I have an Afrikaans Mom and an English Dad. I started off my life speaking English. When I was 2 and a half I went to live with my Grandparents for a few months. Afrikaans then became my primary language. My family say that we were the oddest family. My Mom and Dad would speak Afrikaans to each other which was amusing enough as my Dad’s Afrikaans was terrible. They spoke English to my siblings and Afrikaans to me.
At the age of 5 I went to primary school. My Mom did not like the Afrikaans primary school so she decided to put me in the English one. Overnight everybody stopped speaking Afrikaans to me and started speaking English to me.
Jessica my youngest has never had Afrikaans friends. We don’t speak any Afrikaans at home. Her Afrikaans is very poor. I am trying to remedy this as she has to do a second language at school and we have to up her Afrikaans for her to pass. When Jess was very little we lived in a very Afrikaans community. Jess’ sisters speak Afrikaans fluently.
Raewyn phones Jess the other day after saying that they will speak Afrikaans:
“I am greeting you in Afrikaans.”
“Jess, “vandag” means “today”
For the past two days I have been helping Jess prepare for her Afrikaans exam on Monday. Yesterday I fed her smarties (similar to M&Ms) in exchange for correct answers and today I am feeding her jelly tots. I told her fortunately she does not get many right or she would be getting fat. Jess thinks if she says English words using an Afrikaans accent it will suffice. We have had a lot of fights and fits of laughter with all her special interpretations of Afrikaans words.