While many people think of Kaaps (or Afrikaaps) as ‘slang’ or as a variety of Afrikaans, scholars like Quentin Williams contend that Kaaps first cohered as a language during intercultural encounters in the 1500s between indigenous Africans in the Cape, traders, travellers and, later on, European colonisers and enslaved people from South East Asia. Historically standardised and culturally appropriated by Afrikaner nationalists from the 1930s onwards, the original language, Kaaps, was resituated and marginalised as a variety of standard Afrikaans or Afrikaans creole but has remained vibrant in use and closely intertwined with the identity and creative expression of people in the Western Cape and other parts of South Africa. The dictionary, part of ongoing academic and community efforts around Kaaps language rights, will feature Kaaps, Afrikaans and English. It is a research project that draws on a collective of academic and community participants including the Centre for Multilingualism and Diversities Research (CMDR) at the University of the Western Cape and Heal the Hood Project and was launched as the Trilingual Dictionary of Kaaps (TDK) project on 26 July 2021. The TDK project is funded by the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) and the Centre for Language, Race, and Ethnicity at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the United States. The excitement around this project, shared by everyone from Kaaps speakers to President Cyril Ramaposa, reveal its importance to the recognition of language rights and use of language as resource (Ruiz, 1984).

  • Find out more about the “First-ever trilingual Kaaps dictionary”  by Prof. Quentin Williams, watch the video
  • President Ramaposa’s comments on the Trilingual Kaaps Dictionary, watch the video
  • “Kaaps goes ahead from as early as the 1500s”  by Prof. Adam Haupt, watch the video
  • Read more about the Trilingual Dictionary of Kaaps (TDK), click here
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