Charlize Theron was recently chastised for claiming that her native tongue, Afrikaans, is a disappearing language. The actress was featured on the Smartless podcast, where she discussed growing up in South Africa with Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett. During the interview, she said that she learned to speak English well after moving to the United States at the age of 19. Theron said that it was simple for her to “lose” her South African accent.
She further stated that Afrikaans is not widely spoken, with just “approximately 44 individuals” “still speaking” it:
“It’s a dying language, and it’s not a very useful language.”
As her words spread online, Theron was met with harsh condemnation from social media users. The Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) also chastised the actress, calling her comments “disheartening,” “disturbing,” and “inaccurate”:
“Ms Theron’s words promote the widespread fallacy that Afrikaans is solely spoken by white ‘boere’ South Africans, which could not be farther from the reality given that 60% of Afrikaans speakers are black.”
“With a market share of roughly 14%, it is one of South Africa’s most widely spoken languages.” Afrikaans is the native language of about 8.4 million people globally.”
According to The Independent, the 2018 Community Survey from Stats South Africa shows that Afrikaans is the third most used language among household members, with 12.2% of individuals in the nation using it when conversing in their homes.
Twitter responds to Charlize Theron’s Afrikaans remark.
Charlize Theron recently found herself in hot water after claiming that her native tongue, Afrikaans, is a “dying language” spoken by just “44 individuals.” In addition to criticizing her, the PanSALB said that Charlize Theron is regarded in “great respect by the nation of her origin” and asked her to utilize her position to emphasize the necessity of speaking in one’s mother language in public:
“We implore her to respect the Constitutional imperatives that promote social cohesion and to continue the commendable work of using her platform to highlight some of the critical socioeconomic issues affecting the continent, including the importance of participating in public life in one’s mother tongue.”
Following her statements, the actress drew a swift reaction, with many turning to Twitter to refute her claims:
Tim Theron, a South African actor-director, remarked on Charlize Theron’s podcast statements on Instagram, writing:
“We are tremendously proud of Charlize and all she has accomplished… But we’re also proud of our variety and our fantastic and beautiful official languages, one of which being Afrikaans.”
@CharlizeAfrica Don’t make statements about Afrikaans.Before you did a simple Google search:- Just to inform you “13.5% of the population of South Africa (7 million people) being native speakers, it is the third most spoken language in the country, after Zulu and Xhosa”
— Ansu Le grange (@AnsuLegrange) November 16, 2022
— The Kiffness (@TheKiffness) November 17, 2022
He also said that millions of people spoke Afrikaans at home:
“It is neither a ‘dying language,’ nor is it only spoken by 44 people.” Millions of people speak it, new songs and poetry are created every day, movies are made, and so forth.”
As comments continue to flow in, it remains to be seen if Charlize Theron will address the issue and respond to the outrage in the coming days.