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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    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. Feb 10, 2016 at 19:13

2 Answers 2


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, 2011 at 18:45
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    @psmears: so bahns doesn't rhyme with swans? Mar 30, 2011 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, 2011 at 18:32
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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, 2011 at 21:14
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    In American English, nobody would say “bahns,” but if we did, it would rhyme with “swans” and “Afrikaans.” And “pasta” sounds like “pawsta.” In British English, “Afrikaans” rhymes with “pans.” Feb 10, 2016 at 19:11

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. :) Aug 13, 2010 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, 2011 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, 2011 at 14:52
  • @Random832 That's right, a short 'i', but difficult to render without the IPA characters.
    – Lisa
    Nov 9, 2011 at 22:21

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