Strata in the development of Afrikaans

The grammar and lexicon of Afrikaans can be divided into two primary strata (i.e. diachronic layers or etymological tiers), viz:

  1. a primary native stratum, i.e. Germanic, specifically Low Saxon-Low Franconian; and
  2. a primary non-native stratum, i.e. Classic, specifically Latin and Ancient Greek.

However, a number of secondary strata could also be identified, viz:

  1. a secondary native stratum, namely an English stratum; and
  2. a secondary non-native strata, including:

Lexical items from languages like French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Mandarin, Hindi, etc. normally entered the Afrikaans lexicon either via Dutch or English. For more information and references, see Taalportaal.

For purposes of this post, I have compiled a sortable Excel spreadsheet (see below), listing the most important (but not only) languages in the development of Afrikaans. For each language, a general abbreviation that is often used in dictionaries, is provided, together with ISO codes (where available).

I have also constructed a time line, stating an estimated beginning and end date for each language/variant. These languages and dates represent my own interpretation (and amalgamation) of various literature sources, as listed below.

The following diagram provides a bird’s eye-view of the data.

  • Abbreviations are followed by a full-stop; language codes don’t have a full-stop.
  • Click on image to view it in more detail.  You can then also right-click on image to download it in high resolution.
  • It is also available here as SVG (for best results, right click on link and open in new tab/window).
  • Please reference this image as:
  • Van Huyssteen, Gerhard B. 2021. Strata in die ontwikkeling van Afrikaans. Version 1.0. Available:
  • An English version could be made available per request.
  • Please send comments or suggestions to me via the Contact Me page. 



I have consulted numerous articles on Wikipedia (English, Dutch, Afrikaans, German), starting with the article on Indo-European languages – Wikipedia.

Beekes, Robert S. P. 2011. Comparative Indo-European Linguistics: An introduction. 2nd ed. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Bloemhoff, Henk, and Nanne Streekstra. 2013. Basisboek historische taalkunde. Groningen: Kleine Uil.

Campbell, Lyle. 2004. Historical Linguistics: An Introduction. 2nd ed. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Durkin, Philip. 2009. The Oxford Guide to Etymology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Philippa, M., F. Debrabandere, A. Quak, Tanneke Schoonheim, and Nicoline Van der Sijs. 2003-2009. Etymologisch Woordenboek van het Nederlands. 4 vols. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Van Bree, Cor. 1987. Historische grammatica van het Nederlands. 2nd ed. Dordrecht: Foris Publications.

Van Bree, Cor. 2016. Leerboek voor de historische grammatica van het Nederlands: Deel 1 – Gotische grammatica, Inleiding, Klankleer. 2nd ed. Leiden: Universiteit Leiden.

Van Bree, Cor. 2020. Leerboek voor de historische grammatica van het Nederlands: Deel 2 – Flexie, Woordvorming. 2nd ed. Leiden: Universiteit Leiden.

Van der Sijs, Nicoline. 2004. Taal als mensenwerk: het ontstaan van het ABN. Den Haag: SDU.

Van Veen, P. A. F., and Nicoline Van der Sijs. 1997. Etymologisch woordenboek: de herkomst van onze woorden. 2e ed. Utrecht/Antwerpen: Van Dale Lexicografie.

Van der Sijs, Nicoline. 2019. 15 eeuwen Nederlandse taal. Gorredijk: Sterck & De Vreese.