People are often surprised when I tell them that South Africa has 11 official languages, and that not many people have English as a mother tongue. This existence as a small language with pressure from so many others makes South African English the most complicated variant of English in the world.
Subgroup: West Germanic
Black South African English, Indian English, Coloured English, Afrikaans English – variants of South African English
457 467 people use it as their home language in South Africa.
South African English is probably the most complicated variant of English anywhere because it has always existed in a complex multilingual and multi-cultural environment. English is one of eleven official languages, and mother-tongue English-speakers number just three and a half million in a population of over forty million people – under 9%. So the position of SAE is markedly different from that in multi-lingual but predominantly English-speaking countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the
USA. There is the potential for influence by many more languages than in other English-speaking communities, and these languages have widely divergent origins and structures.
A few notable South African English words:
dwaal – state of befuddlement
smaak – to like, to enjoy
lekker – nice
handlanger – assistant
skelm – dishonest person, rogue, rascal
spoor – animal tracks