Hesseling : ’n eeu later

Ponelis, Fritz (1999-04)

CITATION: Ponelis, F. 1999. Hesseling : ’n eeu later. Literator, 20(1): 1-14, doi: 10.4102/lit.v20i1.441.

The original publication is available at http://literator.org.za


The Dutch linguist D.C. Hesseling was a pioneer of creole studies. The first evidence of Hesseling's interest in language contact and creole languages was his publications on Afrikaans. Hesseling formulated the core of his approach to the origin of Afrikaans in an 1897 article and greatly elaborated his ideas on the subject in the book Het Afrikaansch, published in 1899. This was the first truly scientific study of Afrikaans. Hesseling placed emergent Afrikaans within the colonial Dutch contact situation. In his wide-ranging and penetrating sociohistórical analysis of the seventeenth-century language contact situation at the Cape, Hesseling discounted the impact of either Koi or French and German on emergent Afrikaans. He singled out the creole Portuguese introduced by slaves as the main factor in the formation of Afrikaans from colloquial seventeenthcentury Dutch. Some of the issues raised by Hesseling have been hotly disputed, but his approach has remained at the centre of the discourse on Afrikaans historical linguistics. Hesseling's involvement in the diachrony of early Afrikaans was partly stimulated by his passionate interest in the language politics of the emergent Afrikaans standard language. He was the very first linguist of stature to argue for the standardisation of Afrikaans. Moreover, his ideas on the viability of Afrikaans as a local standard language in competition with both English and Dutch have been borne out, though they had been discounted within contemporary Afrikaner Nationalist discourse.

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