By: Adam Haupt, Director of the Centre for Film and Media Studies, UCT, published originally in www.theconversation.com
It’s been in existence since the 1500s but the Kaaps language, synonymous with Cape Town in South Africa, has never had a dictionary until now. The Trilingual Dictionary
of Kaaps has been launched by a collective of academic and community stakeholders – the Centre for Multilingualism and Diversities Research at the University of the Western Cape, along with the hip hop-driven community NGO Heal the Hood Project. The dictionary, in Kaaps, English and Afrikaans, holds the promise of being a powerful democratic resource.
Adam Haupt, director of the Centre for Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town, is involved in the project and tells us more.
WHAT IS KAAPS AND WHO USES THE LANGUAGE?
Kaaps or Afrikaaps is a language created in settler-colonial South Africa, developed by the 1500s. It took shape as a language during encounters between indigenous African (Khoi
and San), South-East Asian, Dutch, Portuguese and English people. It could be argued that Kaaps pre-dates the emergence of an early form of Kaaps-Hollands (the South African variety of Dutch that would help shape Afrikaans). Traders and sailors would have passed through this
region well before formal colonisation commenced. Also consider migration and movement on the African continent itself. Every intercultural engagement would have created an opportunity for linguistic exchange and the negotiation of new meaning.