25 July, 2017
One of the Jensen Localization Project Managers, Isabel Guijarro Bonald, has spent her 2017 holidays in South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. She would like to share with us what she has learned during her trip because she returned in love with her neighbouring continent. Before going on the journey, she only knew Morocco, a country that can be seen from her house balcony. At the nearest point, the distance between Spain and Africa is 12 kilometres.
There are 11 official languages in South Africa: English, Afrikaans, and nine languages that derive from Bantu (Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu).
The English language ranks number six as the most spoken language (Zulu is the number one most spoken language). English is understood in most urban areas and is the predominant language in the government administration and media.
Afrikaans is a very interesting language (because of its history and evolution), it comes from Dutch. It is a Germanic language. The language is spoken by white people (60%) and by mestizos (90%). It is the result of the evolution of the Dutch language used by settlers from the Cape colony. Over time the language has acquired its own characteristics, as it has assimilated English, Malay, Portuguese and the Zulu languages from the natives. Despite this, it is possible for a Dutch speaker to understand an Afrikaner quite well. Apart from this, Afrikaans is much simpler grammatically than Dutch and a large number of unique colloquial words are present in Afrikaans, which are not found in the parent language.
In the middle of the nineteenth century, it was an oral language without written representation or literary forms, because the official language was Dutch.
At that moment it began to be used gradually in schools and it began the way towards officialization, it was declared an official language in 1925. During the twentieth century, it became a rich literary language, with considerable production in all fields (poetry, textbooks, scientific, technical books, etc.).
In Botswana, English and Setswana are the only official languages (Although other unofficial languages are spoken). The prefix in the Setswana language plays an important role, much more important than in other languages. Thus the prefix bo- refers to the country (Botswana), ba- refers to the people (Batswana “members of the Tswana”), mo- refers to a person (Motswana) and se- refers to the language (Setswana). For example, the main ethnic group in Botswana are the Tswana, hence the name Botswana is “the country of the Tswana”.
In Zimbabwe, formerly Southern Rhodesia, the official languages are English and Shona. Isabel went to Zimbabwe to visit Victoria Falls, located on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Victoria Falls is the waterfall from the Zambezi river and is the biggest waterfall in the world with its 1.7 kilometres wide and 108 meters of fall. David Livingstone, a Scottish missionary and explorer discovered the waterfall on 1855 and named it Queen Victoria to honour her, locally it is known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, which means “The Smoke That Thunders”. The waterfall is a part of two National Parks, Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia and the Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe.
At Jensen Localization we are delighted when members of our team share travelling experiences. Reminding us to embrace new cultures and widen our linguistic knowledge, which is in summary what translation and localization is about.
Thank you Isabel Guijarro Bonald for writing this article.
Culture, Language Flavors