Monday, June 20, 2005

Afrikaans in 60 Words
While I was in South Africa, one of Danola's colleagues was expounding about the superior joys of speaking Afrikaans. He told me, very seriously from within his slightly drunken state, that Afrikaans uses only 60 words, and this is what makes its speakers so straightforward in their communications.

To illustrate his point, he used the example of an Afrikaans speaker vs. someone from Europe complaining about service in a restaurant (since that's where we were at the time). According to him, this is the contrast.

Afrikaans speaker: This service is for sh*t.

European: I'm terribly sorry, but I seem to be having a problem with thus and such and I was wondering if I might perhaps speak to someone about making a complaint...

From the example, I think it's fairly clear that what the guy meant was that the culture in which most people speak Afrikaans (that being pretty much exclusively South Africa) fosters a certain forthrightness of manner, whereas he views European cultures as being annoyingly indirect and too concerned with politeness. This may well be a valid observation, but the fact that he has decided in his mind that this means Afrikaans has far fewer words than other languages is very amusing to me.

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