Two significant moments in the history of Kaaps

  • Christo van Rensburg University of North-West


Two matters are considered in this paper.
(i) The identification of the first version of Kaaps, the progenitor of Afrikaans. The earliest
version of Kaaps was recorded during the first period of the history of Afrikaans – the
period prior to 1652. This period commences with the first visits to the Cape by Dutch
mariners. The written records of Kaaps dating from that period are older than any
other manifestation of forms in Afrikaans. Some of these early words are currently still
in use among speakers of Kaaps, while others have been incorporated into Standard
Afrikaans, or appear in dictionaries and the AWS (Afrikaanse Woordelys en Spelreëls –
Wordlist and Spelling rules for Afrikaans). Some even continue to survive in the spoken
Afrikaans of a number of regional dialects. Reference is also made in this chapter to
how Kaaps eventually developed and played an important role in the shaping of other
varieties of Afrikaans.
(ii) The circumstances leading to the incorporation of elements of other varieties into the core
description of Afrikaans. In describing Afrikaans, language historians usually ask where
particular words and constructions come from. But the question how is actually of
greater value when investigating the development of Afrikaans. Ek (I) is a word in
Kaaps which was, over time, absorbed into general use in Afrikaans. An analysis of
how this process took place reveals that the ‘how’ questions are of greater importance
in the history of the language than the ‘when’ and ‘where’ questions. The true story of
Afrikaans is a socio-historical one. Destigmatization, and the circumstances leading to
changing norms, are evoked by the ‘how’ questions.