Afrikaans is a West Germanic language, spoken natively in South Africa and Namibia. It is a daughter language of Dutch, originating in its 17th century dialects, collectively referred to as Cape Dutch. Although Afrikaans borrowed from languages such as Malay, Portuguese, French, the Bantu languages or the Khoisan languages, an estimated 90 to 95 percent of Afrikaans vocabulary is ultimately of Dutch origin.
Therefore, differences with Dutch often lie in a more regular morphology, grammar, and spelling of Afrikaans. There is a large degree of mutual intelligibility between the two languages—especially in written form—although it is easier for Dutch-speakers to understand Afrikaans than the other way around.
With about 6 million native speakers in South Africa, or 13.3 percent of the population, it is the third most spoken mother tongue in the country. It has the widest geographical and racial distribution of all official languages, and is widely spoken and understood as a second or third language.
It is the majority language of the western half of South Africa—the provinces of the Northern Cape and Western Cape—and the primary language of the coloured and white communities. In neighbouring Namibia, Afrikaans is spoken in 11 percent of households, mainly concentrated in the capital Windhoek and the southern regions of Hardap and Karas. Widely spoken as a second language, it is a lingua franca of Namibia.
While the number of total speakers of Afrikaans is unknown, estimates range between 15 and 23 million.
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