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Charlize Theron is wrong, world data shows 8.4 million people around the world speak Afrikaans

Charlize Theron is wrong, world data shows 8.4 million people around the world speak Afrikaans

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Durban – Just because a famous Hollywood actress says it, doesn't make it fact.

Earlier this week, South-African born actress Charlize Theron ruffled feathers when she remarked that Afrikaans was a dying language. Speaking to Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett on their Smartless podcast, Theron said she didn’t speak English until she was 19-years-old but got invested in the universal language when she left home.

"There's about 44 people still speaking it, it’s definitely a dying language, it's not a very helpful language," she said.

Although the podcast is known for it comedic content, it's unclear if Theron was joking. While South Africans took to social media to share their thoughts, Theron's numbers on how many people speak Afrikaans are inaccurate.

According to worlddata.info, "With a share of around 14%, it is most widespread in South Africa. A total of about 8.4 million people worldwide speak Afrikaans as their mother tongue."

The Pan South African Language Board said Theron's comments could not be further from the truth.

In a media statement, the board said the comments are not only disheartening, but are disturbing as they are inaccurate and misleading.

“These comments perpetuate the persistent misconception that Afrikaans is only spoken by white ‘boere’ South Africans, which could not be farther from the truth as 60% of the people that speak the language are black," the PanSALB added.

The board said Afrikaans maintains its official status in terms of the Constitution and is utilised in several cross governmental communications and used as a medium of instruction in South African schools.

It added that by her own admission, Theron was taught through SA's schooling system in her mother tongue, which built the foundation of her rather illustrious career.

"Theron is held in such high regard by the country of her birth and as the Pan South African Language Board we implore her to pay due regard to the Constitutional imperatives that promote social cohesion and continue the commendable work of using her platform to highlight some of the critical socio-economic issues that affect the continent, including the importance of participating in public life using one’s mother tongue," the PanSALB said.


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