The Afrikaans Language Monument (Afrikaans: Afrikaanse Taalmonument) is located on a hill overlooking Paarl, Western Cape Province, South Africa. Completed in 1975, it commemorates the semicentenary of Afrikaans being declared an official language of South Africa separate from Dutch. Also, it was erected on the 100th anniversary of the founding of Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners (the Society of Real Afrikaners) in Paarl, the organization that helped strengthen Afrikaaners' identity and pride in their language.
The monument consists of various tapering structures of a convex
nature, symbolising influences of different languages and cultures on Afrikaans itself, as well as political developments in South Africa, as follows:
- Clear West - the European heritage of the language
- Magical Africa - the African influences on the language
- Bridge - between Europe and Africa
- Afrikaans - the language itself
- Republic - declared in 1961
- Malay language and culture
(There is also a open stadium at the bottom of the structure where concerts and events are held)
On a large plaque
at the entrance, two quotes from prominent Afrikaans poets are enscribed:
- Afrikaans is die taal wat vir Wes-Europa en Afrika verbind... Dit vorm 'n brug tussen die groot helder Weste en die magiese Afrika... En wat daar groots aan hulle vereniging kan ontspruit – dit is miskien wat vir Afrikaans voorlê om te ontdek. Maar wat ons nooit moet vergeet nie, is dat hierdie verandering van land en landskap as't ware aan die nuwe wordende taal geslyp, geknee, gebrei het... En so het Afrikaans in staat geword om hierdie nuwe land uit te sê... Ons taak lê in die gebruik wat ons maak en sal maak van hierdie glansende werktuig... -- N.P. van Wyk Louw
- "Afrikaans is the language that connects Western Europe and Africa... It forms a bridge between the large, shining West and the magical Africa... And what great things may come from their union – that is maybe what lies ahead for Afrikaans to discover. But what we must never forget, is that this change of country and landscape sharpened, kneaded and knitted this newly-becoming language... And so Afrikaans became able to speak out from this new land... Our task lies in the use that we make and will make of this gleaming vehicle..."
- As ons nou hier in die saal af 'n ry pale sou plant, tien pale, om die laaste tien jaar voor te stel, en aan elke paal 'n merk sou maak op 'n hoogte van die vloer af ooreenkomende met die betreklike skryfgebruik van Afrikaans in die respektiewe jaartal, en 'n streep deur die merke trek van die eerste af hier naby die vloer tot by die laaste daar anderkant teen die solder, dan sou die streep 'n snelstygende boog beskryf, nie net vinnig opgaande nie, maar opgaande na 'n vinnig vermeerderende rede. Laat ons nou in ons verbeelding die boog verleng vir die tien komende jare van nou af. Sien u menere waar die punt sal wees, daar buite in die bloue lug hoog oor Bloemfontein, in die jaar 1924. -- C.J. Langenhoven
- "If we plant a row of poles down this hall now, ten poles, to represent the last ten years, and on each pole we make a mark at a height from the floor corresponding to the relative written use of Afrikaans in the respective year, and we draw a line, from the first here near the floor to the last over there against the loft, then the line would describe a rapidly rising arc, not only quickly rising, but rising in a quickly increasing manner. Let us now, in our imagination, extend the arc for the ten coming years from now. See you, sirs, where the point shall be, outside in the blue sky high over Bloemfontein, in the year 1924."
The phrase "DIT IS ONS ERNS" (roughly "we are earnest [about this]", or "this is our earnestness") is emblazoned on the pathway leading up to the monument.
When the British design magazine Wallpaper*
as the ugliest language in the world
in its September 2005 article about the Monument, South African billionaire Johann Rupert
(chairman of the Richemont group
), responded by withdrawing advertising for brands such as Cartier
, Van Cleef & Arpels
and Alfred Dunhill
from the magazine
The author of the article, Bronwyn Davies is an English-speaking South African
The Burgersdorp Monument
The language monument at Paarl wasn't the first monument to commemorate Afrikaans. That honour goes to the monument in Burgersdorp, South Africa, which was built in 1893. The monument depicts a woman pointing her finger at a book in her hands.
Although the main inscription on that monument refers to the Hollandse taal (Dutch language), it can be understood to mean Afrikaans.
The monument was damaged during the Anglo-Boer War, and Lord Milner had it removed. It was replaced with a replica in 1907. The original was later discovered in King William in 1939, and moved back to stand next to the replica in Burgersdorp.
Some sources claim that Lord Milner had removed the original monument not because it was damaged, but because he was opposed to Afrikaans, and that the replica was built not by government but by a group of Afrikaners.