Language board slams Charlize Theron over Afrikaans remarks

Language board slams Charlize Theron over Afrikaans remarks

The PanSALB says Charlize's "disparaging comments" perpetuate the misconception that Afrikaans is only spoken by white ‘boere’ South Africans.

Charlize Theron
South African-born actress Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron is facing the wrath of South Africans after saying that Afrikaans is a "dying language".  

The 47-year-old, who was born and raised in Benoni, made the comments during an interview on the 'SmartLess' podcast with Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett. 

Charlize joked that Afrikaans, which is one of South Africa's 11 official languages, is only spoken by a handful of people. 

“There are about 44 people still speaking it. It's definitely a dying language. It's not a very helpful language,” she said.  

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The hosts asked her how she was able to drop her South African accent when she moved to America. Charlize revealed that it was because she had to learn English. 

"I didn't speak English, really, until I was 19... Nobody in my neighbourhood spoke English... so, when I came here [to America] at 19, it was really kind of like learning the language. That's why it was easy for me to drop the accent because I was really learning English from scratch,” she added.

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The Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) released a statement on Thursday addressing the Oscar winner's remarks. 

"The comments are not only disheartening but are disturbing as they are inaccurate and misleading. According to Stats SA’s Community Survey of 2018, Afrikaans is the 3rd most spoken language in the country making up 12,2% of the population," it said. 

The PanSALB added that Charlize's comments "perpetuate the persistent misconception that Afrikaans is only spoken by white ‘boere’ South Africans". The language board revealed that 60% of the people that speak the language are black.

"Furthermore, 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. By her own admission, Ms Theron was taught through our schooling system in her mother tongue, which built the foundation of her rather illustrious career."

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Scores of Afrikaans-speaking South Africans flooded Charlize's Instagram page with comments about how disappointed they are with her comments. 

"I'm only going to get 44 likes on my comment because only 44 people can understand me, but jou ma se p**s," one angry user commented. 

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Main image credit: Instagram/@charlizeafrica

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