Thursday, May 31, 2012

31 May - Just Another Thunderous Day

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: Afrikaans is probable one of the most descriptive languages in the world… Such deeper meanings can be expressed in the most shortest phrases, for example:

"Onthou 31 Mei was eers Uniedag en daarna Republiekdag maar nou is dit net nog 'n Donderdag."

The above sentence translated into English directly will not really carry any special meaning… It will simply be stating the obvious: “Remember 31 May was first Union Day, then Republic Day, but today it is just another normal Thursday.”

The true message will only be understood by people who understand the meaning of Donderdag (Thursday), and other terms that correlate with its meaning.

The name is derived from Old English Þūnresdæg and Middle English Thuresday, which means "Thor's day". Thor was the Norse God of Thunder. The Scandinavians believed his chariot rumbled as it crossed the sky and that he wielded a hammer that shot lightening when he threw it. The Angles and Saxons who invaded England in the 500's carried the belief in Thor with them in their wanderings and wars. (Source)

In the Afrikaans language the word “thunder” usually means donderweer, but it can also have other meanings depending on how the word is used (with slight variations in spelling) in combination with other words in the context of a full sentence. If you take away the last 4 letters “weer” (meaning weather), you’re left with donder, which doesn’t really mean anything when used on its own. It has to be combined with other words (usually in one word) in order to acquire meaning, for example: donderwolk (a dark cloud), donderbui (thunder-shower), donderblits (thunder and lightning), donderslag (thunder clap), donderbuis (bombshell).

The real fun begins when you replace the second “d” in donder with “n” or “k”. You’ll then get donner or donker, which immediately bestows totally different meanings.

In Afrikaans the word “donner” also means “to fight” or “come to blows with someone”… In other words if an Afrikaner wants to threaten somebody physically in a hostile manner, he/she will say: “Ek gaan jou donner!”

The term is mostly used in a playful manner, normally as a casual warning and in response to someone who is irritable or looking for trouble… i.o.w. an @rshole of some sort.

Variations of its use in Afrikaans (slang) is as follows:

“Ek is die donner-in!” - (I am angry!)
“Ek is donners kwaad!” - (I am very angry - or upset)
“Ek is lus en donner jou!” - (I feel like attacking you!)
“Kom ons gaan donner daai ou.” - (Come, let’s go attack that bloke.)
“Ek is so gatvol vir al die donnerse kak!” - (I am so sick and tired of all this shit!)
… and so on.

Translated directly to English the word means "darker", but synonyms of the word, among others, are nag (night), swart (black), duisternis (gloom), onsekerheid (uncertainty), droefheid (sadness or sorrow), and last but not least - neerslagtigheid (despondency or depression).

An example of its usage in a sentence is as follows:

“Daar’s ‘n donker wolk wat oor die land hang!” - (There’s a dark cloud hanging over the land!)

I hope this makes it clearer how Afrikaners will perceive the above phrase?

But let me spell it out anyway…
“Remember 31 May was first Union Day, then Republic Day, but today it is one major stuff-up, because there’s a dark cloud hanging over us, which is making us feel angry, sad, and depressed.”

The deeper cryptic meaning correlates with the word “donner” with its obvious implications, as per the examples given above.

This posting was inspired when I noticed the abovementioned Afrikaans phrase circulating on various social network sites.

Related Post: Why should South Africa remember 31 May?


Boertjie said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

Hallo TIA!

When translating words like "moer" en "gatvol", that very specific emotions conveyed simply gets lost in translation.

Anyway, this post of yours reminds me of a cartoon in Landbouweekblad that so vividly illustrates how closely Afrikaans developed alongside agriculture. The cartoon was about suggestions being asked about a new proposed law or something that requires more comfortable tranportation-conditions for livestock. If I remember correctly, this was more or less the text of the cartoon:

Bull : "Kom ons pak die bul by die horings, voorstelle asb?"

Horse : "Hierdie wet is nou 'n perd van 'n ander kleur!"

Chicken : "As ek ook 'n eiertjie kan lê, ek het nog altyd gedink die ouens voel vere vir ons welstand!"

Sheep : "My blêêêrrie stêre is al so deurgesit in die ysterwaens"

Cow : "Hierdie wet sal 'n mooeese verbetering wees!"

Have a nice day!

Tia Mysoa said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

@Boertjie - Brilliant, thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

Afrikaans has the further distinction of getting its tenses completely muddled up so "Google Translate" completely cocks it up. There are also many words, as in some of the classical languages, that convey vary meanings and degrees of meaning depending on the context.

A bit like a translation of Bok's song De La Rey:

"Soos een man sal ons om jou val" is translated rather poorly as "As one man we will fall (die) around you" when the true interpretation would be "We will rally around you (as our leader) in complete unity of purpose (as one man) without hesitation".

Does not quite help the lyrical genius though...

There is a richness to Afrikaans - despite the accusations from Europe of it being a "Kitchen Language" - where the meaning will be lost even on the Dutch and Flemish.

For a "Kitchen Language" it sure managed to convey a staggering array of scientific and mathematical ideas. Sadly that heritage has been destroyed under the Marxist Bastards (tm).

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