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?

  • Whatever language you are speaking, you use your own pronunciation for that language. Where you hear somebody switching accents, they should be someone who speaks both languages and is actually switching between their own English accent and Spanish accent for example. – Simon White Feb 10 '16 at 19:13

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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    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

You should pronounce it the same way English or Afrikaans speaking South Africans do.


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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