MILITARY NAMES IN SOUTH AFRICA - QUO VADIS?
Were Dr Johnson alive today and able to visit the 'four corners' of the earth by Jumbo Jet, he would be astounded to hear how his mother tongue is spoken. A man whose attitude to the English of Shakespeare, Jonson and the British Army could hardly be assumed to be 'verlig' would, were he to visit our military units, probably wrinkle his nose in disgust and promptly return to his grave. Yet, in doing so, he would be dismissing one very important fact: the power of a truly great language to
... late foreign elements, adapt itself to a changing world, and still retain its identity. This is why English is still today, in spite of Britain's international decline, a world language. The English, as Otto Jespersen put it so succinctly, 'sat down at a banquet of languages and ran away with the scraps.' The Hobson brothers wrote their novels in Afrikaans to catch the spirit of the South African country side. This statement may be partially true, but I do feel that, particularly in South Africa, English has adapted itself so well that even Skankwan van die Duine would have been equally effective in English. Many of the typically Afrikaans words have found their way into the Oxford Dictionary : Trek, veld, laager, spoor, koppie, etc. The British military tradition in South Africa is very old. To 'Stellenbosch' an officer, that is to transfer him to a less responsible appointment where he would be out of harm's way, is a typical example. South African and British soldiers have fought side by side for many years since the Boer war. The bonds are still very close; and obviousiy the influence of Afrikaans on our South African military English has been, and still is, profound. More than 30 OOO national servicemen are called up for service annually and within the military sphere the Afrikaans and English languages are in daily contact. Many of the new phrases and lexical items are unacceptable, it is true, but many others impart a particularly 35