Having different guests is a very exciting perk to owning a quaint bed & breakfast. New experiences are shared, facts are learned and the love of culture and languages discovered. It has always been a proud fact that South Africa recognizes 11 languages officially in its constitution. This means that there is mutual respect between the various cultures. Most South Africans can speak two or more languages; some are learned in school while others are learned through informal social networks.
Language in South Africa are interrelated, even English is sprinkled with words from Afrikaans, Zulu and others. Most of the time, when a South African talks they would use 2-3 major languages at a time.
Afrikaans is one of the known languages in South Africa but it is only the third most commonly used in the country. Most of the language origin is from the Dutch and it was formerly known as Cape Dutch as those living in the Cape spoke it. Now, Afrikaans is mostly spoken in those living in the Northern Cape.
English is the language of government, business and trade but it is only the fourth most commonly used. Schools also use English as the medium of instruction along with another language used in that province. English used in South Africa, though, have its own accent with influences from the British, Afrikaans and Dutch.
The second largest spoken language is isiXhosa, spoken by approximately 8 million people or 16% of the country’s population. It is a tonal language, which means that the way they speak or the tone of their speech affects the meaning of the words or the whole sentence. It belongs to the Nguni language of South Africa. Other languages that belong to this group are the isiNdebele, isiZulu and siSwati.
Aside from these languages, South Africa also speaks Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Setswana, Sesotho and Sesotho sa Leboa. Different regions and provinces would also have various accents and pidgins. Though this would create confusion for a first-time visitor, South Africa is a very friendly place and there is no shortage of people that would try to accommodate or answer your questions. Truly, South Africa deserves to be called the Rainbow Nation.