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Vryheid van die Afrikaanse spraak : ryk, ryker, Rykie

Rabe, Lizette (2009-03)

CITATION: Rabe, L. 2009. Vryheid van die Afrikaanse spraak : ryk, ryker, Rykie. Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe, 49(1):131-144.

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Die Afrikaanse joernalis Rykie van Reenen (1923-2003) het op verskeie terreine in die Afrikaanse joernalistiek ’n bydrae gemaak. ’n Mens kan byvoorbeeld konstateer dat sy die Afrikaanse taal “bevry” het van ’n nog gestrenge skryfwyse. Hierdie artikel is ’n eerste verkenning van hierdie “vrydenker” in die Afrikaanse joernalistiek se vrye omgang met dié jong taal. As deskriptiewe artikel word kortliks, as konteks, op die ontwikkeling van die Afrikaanse taal gefokus. Daarop volg ’n kort bespreking van die ontwikkeling van Van Reenen as jong joernalis. Die invloed wat die skrywer MER op haar vorming gehad het, word vervolgens gedokumenteer. ’n Waardering van Van Reenen se tydgenote volg, asook Van Reenen se invloed op ’n nuwe generasie Afrikaanse, veral vroulike, joernaliste. Die artikel sluit af met slegs ’n aantal voorbeelde uit die oeuvre van die “onvergelyklike stilis” wat tot die uitdrukking “ryk, ryker, Rykie” gelei het.

The Afrikaans journalist Rykie van Reenen (1923-2003) contributed in many respects to the development of Afrikaans journalism. It can, for instance, also be said that she “liberated” the Afrikaans language from a very formalised style. This article focuses on this aspect of Van Reenen’s contribution to Afrikaans journalism and the Afrikaans language. As a fi rst exploration of this “freethinker” in Afrikaans media the article attempts to describe her “free” interaction with this young language that was fi rst recognised as offi cial language in 1925, only two decades before Van Reenen was appointed as the second professional Afrikaans journalist on the Cape daily Die Burger in 1945. Her “infallible style”, according to her female colleague and contemporary and later editor of Die Burger and chair of Naspers, Piet Cillié, can be regarded as a liberation of the Afrikaans language. Van Reenen has been described as “undoubtedly the most outstanding Afrikaans journalist of the [twentieth] century” by historian Hermann Giliomee in his seminal book The Afrikaners, although he qualifi ed this in the later (translated and re-edited) Afrikaans edition with a more sober “probably”. Van Reenen’s characteristic style was possibly the sumtotal of a unique linguistic talent coupled with the application and discipline of writing which was polished – burnished – on a daily basis. This descriptive article focuses briefl y on the background to the development of the Afrikaans language from the diverse Afrikaans language communities that settled at the Cape during the seventeenth century, leading to a “formalised” language in the fi rst decades of the twentieth century. What follows next is the development of Van Reenen as young journalist, and especially the infl uence that the Afrikaans author MER (Miem Rothmann) had on her. Van Reenen was one of MER’s so-called “Cape children” (“Kaapse kinders”), and in many respects MER was her mentor. An appreciation by Van Reenen’s contemporaries with regard to her unique style and contribution to the “liberation” of Afrikaans and the language’s stylised and formal use during the middle of the previous century follows. Van Reenen’s infl uence on a new generation of Afrikaans, especially female, journalists, is also briefl y referred to. The article concludes with a few examples from the oeuvre of the “unparalleled stylist” that has led to the expression “ryk, ryker, Rykie” (as degree of comparison: rich, richer, Rykie) among her peers.

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