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Monthly Archives: February 2009

… at the language learning. It’s only been two months but I can’t let a day pass,  without practice.

I began at Dr. DuPlessis’ website, At first, I couldn’t find a “starting point”, but that’s the best feature of the site. It’s self-directed. I also like the fact that all the Afrikaans is accompanied by English translations and the vocabulary lists have pronunciations. I bought Lydia McDermott’s “Teach Yourself Afrikaans” book and CDs. I’ve been plugging away at that since day 1. I’m working on chapters 4 and 5.   If I get stuck on a lesson, I move forward on the CD to familiarize myself with the new dialogues.

I get my daily Afrikaans fix, by a couple a methods. I try to interpret one article, from Die Burger online. Even if I have to look up every third word, it’s good exercise.

Once in a while, I’ll visit Radio Sonder Grense. That’s just pressing my proverbial nose against the window. I remain on the other side of the glass in listening skills.

I use ANKI, a brilliant piece of freeware, that shows flashcards based on timed intervals. It tests my hardest vocabulary words at a greater frequency than my easy words.

Even my web browser speaks Afrikaans to me, both at home and work. I installed the Afrikaans version of Firefox, and now, among the other commands I learned, I “open skakel in nuwe oortjie”! My IT gal at work may not have appreciated that, when she has to remote into my computer,  because one day my Firefox mysteriously reverted back to speaking English again.

In order for me to not get stuck in a learning rut, when I don’t feel like memorizing vocabulary, I’ll go watch Kwela or Egoli. I’m not even an American soap opera buff, so I force myself to watch “Egoli”, for the English subtitles. has a subscription-free viewer area.

Here’s a shameless plug. It was on the Learn Afrikaans yahoo group (thank you forumites!) where I found a pointer to a textbook used in South African schools. I ordered directly from the author’s website, and received my copy just this week. The book is “Afrikaans Handbook and Study Guide.” (approx $17USD, postage paid). The author, Beryl Lutrin, also happens to be a lovely woman!

I can’t say enough good stuff about this book. It contains everything I wanted to learn about … everything! Namely, grammar, and the rules about “om” and “te”, and word order. My goal is to get to a point where I can think in whole correct thoughts/sentences, sans translation.

I think reading helps a lot, in that it give me a feel for the word order without having to translate too much. A learning by osmosis, as it were. At least Afrikaans doesn’t have that many difficult rules and few exceptions. In contrast, an English learner has know that “bough” and “bought” sound like “bow” and “bawt”.

English is my native language. I retain a lot of the vocabulary from the Latin I learned in school.  I picked up a wee bit of Spanish while living in the city for many years. And I have a child’s level of fluency in the language of my parents.  So Afrikaans is a sort of “fifth language” for me. Sometimes I experience what I call “language leakage.” If I can’t remember the Afrikaans word for something, I mentally substitute a Latin word.  “Nobody is eating the meat. ” becomes “Nemo die vleis eet.”   It should be “Niemand”.

I know about 300 words in Afrikaans, and recognize a lot more.   I’m targeting 5000 words, so I have quite a ways to go. Unfortunately this is real life, and not a movie;  I can’t pick up the language as fast as the way Neo plugged into kung fu in The Matrix!

Overall, it’s fun and enjoyable. I feel challenged and accomplished.  I had a fleeting funny thought,  that if I ever got stuck in Scrabble with a rackful of vowels,  I could clear it out with a few choice Afrikaans words!



I’m working on a new project. Or rather, I’m procrastinating about working on the new project.  Once I start it, I won’t be able to stop. I don’t mind the actual work of the project,  but I  just have to shift myself into gear.  I think it’s the apprehension of the unknown that scares me into a frozen state of inaction.

Like the Ellen DeGeneres skit about procrastination,

I find myself doing about a hundred other unrelated and barely tangential things, like visiting News24, or DieBurger , then the Huisgenoot Tempo music magazine site,  or logging into my Kuduclub membership and downloading a month’s worth of Egoli episodes of which I may watch two or three.

I don’t even like American soap operas. I keep telling myself Egoli is good practice hearing Afrikaans spoken at a normal speed. Who am I kidding, it’s just another procrastination ploy.

I was even washing the cars the other day, just to get away from it. And if it’d been warm enough, I would have waxed and hand buffed the fleet.   I could put this procrastination to good practical use.  What other projects could I complete, before starting this one?