L. (eames) wrote in linguaphiles,

Learning Afrikaans.


I'm not really sure how to ask the question I want to ask, as I'm aware it may be a sensitive issue. So I apologise in advance if I phrase it poorly. It isn't my intention - I'm just not sure how to ask, and I don't have anyone in real-life I CAN ask, and a community like this seemed a good place. (If people feel this isn't appropriate here, however, please tell me, and I'll delete the post.)

I've been learning Japanese on and off for years now, and a while ago, I reached a point where I became really interested in South Africa, its culture, and (one of its) languages, Afrikaans. Because it's a much simpler language to learn than Japanese, I found myself dabbling in it, and I'm really enjoying it. It's now becoming something I'd say I'm actively learning, rather than just dabbling in now. It's nice to take a break from something you feel you're struggling with, and just renew a love of language-learning, I think. So I've just been running with that, and having fun with it.

However, as a white person, I am very aware of the historical context that comes with this language, as a language of oppression (though I know it is the first language of many PoC, too) and it makes me a little- I don't know. Self-conscious, perhaps, of learning it. Of saying I'm learning it, in case it's perceived as anything approximating supporting a very awful period, historically. Or being blasé about that.

I know, logically, this isn't the case with other languages (e.g. plenty of people learn German, without being perceived as supporting any sort of awful ideology) but I don't know how it would be perceived by any PoC, especially those living in areas where Afrikaans spoken, for a person (especially one without Afrikaner heritage, who may have grown up speaking the language) to make an active effort to learn it. I'm so aware of my white privilege here, and it would horrify me to ever be seen as insensitive to its past, even though there are plenty of Afrikaans speakers of all races/the language doesn't seem to be dying out, or solely perceived badly, by any means.

I'm just... looking for thoughts, I guess, as the self-consciousness of learning it is starting to taint my enjoyment a bit/make me uncomfortable. I'd appreciate any advice. Thanks, guys. :/
Tags: advice, afrikaans
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