The Afrikaans of the Cape Muslims (Talatala)

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9781869192365: The Afrikaans of the Cape Muslims (Talatala)

Afrikaans happened when slaves adapted Dutch – the language of the rulers – for their own use. Many years later Afrikaans was hijacked by some white Afrikaners as 'their language', but Davids proved beyond doubt that it was the descendants of the slaves, not their masters, who first wrote Afrikaans.

The Cape Muslim community, from early in the nineteenth century, seems to have used Afrikaans as a language of communication and education, as well as a vehicle for the transmission of religious ideas. This book could be described as being a socio-historical record to evoke a greater awareness of the existence of Cape Muslim Afrikaans and as a useful source for broadening our understanding of the linguistic nature of Cape Afrikaans.

In The Afrikaans of the Cape Muslims aspects of the Afrikaans of the Muslim community, as well as the community that spoke this Afrikaans, are examined. Achmat Davids presents with thoroughness and insight very interesting facts about the fate of one of the types of Afrikaans that, from its inception, has been an integral part of the Cape, and later on of South Africa, over a period of a hundred years. For example, did the Cape Muslim community of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries write as they spoke? Due to the phonetic nature of Arabic script, Davids proved the answer to be 'yes!'

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About the Author:

HEIN WILEMSE is a South African academic, literary critic, activist and author. He currently serves as Professor in the Department of Afrikaans at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and as editor-in-chief of the African literary journal Tydskrif vir Letterkunde.

Review:

The main objective of this study of the Arabic-Afrikaans literary tradition of the Muslim community in South Africa's Cape of Good Hope is to facilitate the reading of Arabic-Afrikaans texts for those who may not be proficient in Arabic reading. The first part of the book traces the emergence of the cultural, linguistic, and literary traditions of the Cape Town Muslim community. Later chapters examine the development of Arabic-Afrikaans as a written script, especially the creation of lettering symbols to represent distinctive Afrikaans sounds, and the creation of systems of transliteration in relation to Roman script. B&w illustrations of script are included. The book was originally a Master's thesis by author Davids (1939-1998), who published many works on the culture and language of the Muslim community in Cape Town.

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