African Studies Center

University of Pennsylvania



Afrikaans is a West Germanic language, spoken natively in South Africa and Namibia. Although Afrikaans borrowed from languages such as Malay, Portuguese, French, the Bantu languages, and the Khoisan languages, an estimated 90 to 95 percent of Afrikaans vocabulary is ultimately of Dutch origin. There is a large degree of mutual intelligibility between Dutch and Afrikaans. With about 6 million native speakers in South Africa, or 13.3 percent of the population, it is the third most spoken language in the country. In neighboring Namibia, Afrikaans is spoken in 11 percent of households, mainly concentrated in the capital Windhoek and the southern regions of Hardap and Karas. Widely spoken as a second language, it is a lingua franca of Namibia. It is spoken elsewhere in Africa, notably in Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland. It is also spoken by emigrants and expatriate communities world-wide. While the number of total speakers of Afrikaans is unknown, estimates range between 15 and 23 million.

Levels Taught Instructor
Afrikaans Elementary I (First semester of Afrikaans) TBA
Afrikaans Elementary II (Second semester ofAfrikaans)  
Afrikaans Intermediate I (Third semester of Afrikaans)  
Afrikaans Intermediate I (Fourth semester of Afrikaans)  
Afrikaans Advanced I (Fifth semester of Afrikaans)  
Afrikaans Advanced II (Sixth semester of Afrikaans)  

The level I and II courses are offered in the fall and spring, respectively.

For more information about African Languages at Penn please email the Director of African Language Program,
Dr. Audrey N Mbeje, or call: (215) 898-4299

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