bilingual, adjective

Origin:
English, Afrikaans, Show more Special sense of general English; bilingual came to be used of Afrikaans and English exclusively because they were the dominant languages among the ruling white group.
Of a person, proficient in English and Afrikaans; of a document, label, etc., printed in English and Afrikaans; of an organization or institution, offering its services in both English and Afrikaans; tweetalig. Also figurative.
Note:
From the creation of the Union of South Africa in 1910 until 1925, Dutch and English were the two official languages; in 1925 Afrikaans replaced Dutch as the second official language, and in 1994 eleven official languages were recognized.
[1909 S. Afr. Act in Stat. of Union 72Both the English and Dutch languages shall be official languages of the Union, and shall be treated on a footing of equality.]
1911 G.J. Du Preez in Farmer’s Weekly 11 Oct. 3A paper such as yours..must be bi-lingual. The greatest number of the farming population cannot appreciate your paper as it is uni-lingual.
1913 V.R. Markham S. Afr. Scene 168The first of those propositions and one always forgotten by the extremists, both Dutch and English, is the fact that the country is bi-racial and bi-lingual; the Dutch-speaking population, it is estimated, being 60 per cent. of the whole.
1938 Star 8 Dec. 19‘I like to think of it as a kind of bilingual beard! This,’ pointing to the white, ‘is the fine, old mature language of the English, and this’ — stroking the black — ‘the strong young virile language of the Afrikaner.’
1943 J. Burger Black Man’s Burden 44Classification of Europeans According to Language (1936). 66% of the total population is classed as bilingual. 53% of the urban population has English as a mother tongue. 41% of the urban population has Afrikaans as a mother tongue.
1950 H. Gibbs Twilight in S. Afr. 174In 1908, while Attorney-General and Minister of Education in the first Free State Cabinet, he was responsible for introducing the Act by which every child had to be bilingual.
1979 E. Prov. Herald 6 Apr.Farm Manager required for dairy farm. Should be bilingual and must speak Xhosa.
1990 A. Sachs in Weekly Mail 2 Feb. 23South Africa is now said to be a bilingual country: we envisage it as a multi-lingual country.
1990 R. Stengel January Sun 150An American arrives at Jan Smuts airport in Johannesburg. Van der Merwe (the generic surname in all Afrikaner jokes), the customs official, asks him if he speaks any other languages besides English. The man says, ‘Yes, I speak French, Spanish, and German.’ Van der Merwe replies, ‘Oh, so you’re not bilingual?’
1994 TV1, 18 Oct. (Good Morning South Africa)There will be a bilingual news update at 8 o’clock.
Of a person, proficient in English and Afrikaans; of a document, label, etc., printed in English and Afrikaans; of an organization or institution, offering its services in both English and Afrikaans; tweetalig. Also figurative.
Derivatives:
Hence bilingual noun nonce (used ironically), Afrikaans; bilingualism noun, proficiency in English and Afrikaans.
c1936 S. & E. Afr. Yr Bk & Guide 36The census of 1926...As compared with the figures of 1921, a very considerable increase in bi-lingualism is indicated.
1939 Outspan 6 Oct. 23She is thoroughly and completely at home in English and Afrikaans, a perfect example of bilingualism.
1943 I. Frack S. Afr. Doctor 103The incessant stressing of bilingualism by the politicians really means unilingualism. The country must learn Afrikaans even if it is killed in learning it.
1976 V. Rosenberg Sunflower 12His bilingualism and his administrative abilities were utilised during pleasant sojourns at the Cape.
c1988 S. Afr. 1987–8: Off. Yrbk (Bureau for Info.) 34Afrikaans replaced Dutch as the other official language in 1925 and bilingualism was encouraged in the public service.
1990 Weekly Mail 21 Dec. (Suppl.) 31Experiments with bilingualism have already been done in Afrikaans literature through ventures like Forces Favourites.

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19091994