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I've always had trouble with the word 'Afrikaans'. I could say it the way South Africans say it, but then I'm not sure if I'd just be saying the word with a South African accent. After all, I don't pronounce 'Spanish' as 'ESS-PAN-YOLLL'.

So how do people pronounce it?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 15 down vote accepted

The pronunciation of "Afrikaans" differs from "Africans" in two ways.

1) Accent is on the last syllable.

2) The last syllable rhymes with "swans".

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7  
This is correct for North American pronunciation (which was what the questioner asked about, so +1!) but just for the record, the British pronunciation would rhyme with "bahns" rather than "swans" :-) –  psmears Mar 7 '11 at 18:45
    
@psmears: so bahns doesn't rhyme with swans? –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Mar 30 '11 at 13:41
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@Mr. Shiny and New: No, it doesn't :) See @nohat's excellent answer here for an interesting discussion - this is the "lot-palm" merger: swans has the same vowel as lot, but bahns has the same vowel as palm, and in many dialects (including most British ones) these are distinct - but in very many North American dialects they have merged and become the same vowel. –  psmears Mar 30 '11 at 18:32
    
@psmears: for me, lot and swan don't have the same vowel; lot is on its own and swan, bahn, palm all have the same vowel. –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Mar 30 '11 at 21:06
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@Mr. Shiny and New: OK - in that case your dialect/idiolect is different.. But my assertion about British English stands :) –  psmears Mar 30 '11 at 21:14
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You should pronounce it the same way English or Afrikaans speaking South Africans do.

aah-free-kaahns

The word Afrikaans is the same in English or Afrikaans whereas Spanish is an English translation of Espanol.

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True, but if you had never heard the word 'Italian' before and you met a native speaker and asked them what language they speak, they might respond with 'EEE-talian'. So maybe Spanish/Espanyol was a bad example. :) –  theycallmemorty Aug 13 '10 at 17:04
    
'Ee talian' is the correct pronunciation in English too! I learnt as a kid through humiliation never to say 'Eye talian'! –  Lisa Nov 3 '11 at 1:26
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@Lisa To my understanding the correct pronunciation in English has a short i: "ih", not "ee" or "eye". –  Random832 Nov 9 '11 at 14:52
    
@Random832 That's right, a short 'i', but difficult to render without the IPA characters. –  Lisa Nov 9 '11 at 22:21
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