The Dutch Reformed Church decides that Afrikaans may be used alongside Dutch during services

Dutch Reformed Church

Monday, 10 November 1919

The Afrikaans language has its origins in Dutch. It developed amongst Dutch-speaking settlers and slaves in South Africa in the 17th century, and has many influences, including French and Malay. At the time of the Great Trek in the 1830's, various dialects of Afrikaans were believed to have existed, however all written material was in standard European Dutch. In 1861, L.H. Meurant published what is considered as the first authoritative Afrikaans text, Zamenspraak tusschen Klaas Waarzegger en Jan Twyfelaar. Some years later, an Arabic Afrikaans Islamic instruction book, written by Abu Bakr Effendi, was published, as well as the first Afrikaans dictionaries.

Central to the development of the Afrikaans language were the first attempts at the translation of the Bible. The Gospel of Mark was fully translated from Dutch into Afrikaans in 1878 and although never published, it was indicative of the move toward the greater use of Afrikaans in the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC). Thus, on 10 November 1919, the Cape Synod decided that Afrikaans could be used alongside Dutch during church services.

The use of Afrikaans in both written and spoken form and in religious, social and political spheres rapidly increased, leading to its official recognition in 1925. Afrikaans is currently one of South Africa's eleven official languages, and is spoken by approximately twelve million people.

Click here to read more about the Dutch Reformed Church and Apartheid.

References:
• S.A places, Afrikaans Language Museum,[online] Available at: places.co.za [Accessed 3 November 2009]
•  Kwintessential,The Afrikaans Language [online] Available at:www.kwintessential.co.uk [Accessed 3 November 2009]
•  Wallis, F. 2000. Nuusdagboek:feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human& Rousseau.

Last updated : 10-Nov-2015

This article was produced for South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011