Monday, November 30, 2009

Has or Have and Was or Were, not always sure!

One of my friends mentioned to me that he enjoy my posts but as he calls it, he can see I'm a "Dutchman" due to my Grammar that is not good. "Dutchman" being the word use in South Africa to describe "Afrikaans" people.

Let me first say why I post in English if Afrikaans is my home language and then I'll give you some back ground on why my English is not the best there is.

Obviously when writing in English it is possible for many people to enjoy my blog entries. If I write all my stories in Afrikaans it will only be my mother and a handful of people that will be able to understand what I write. I would also not have met all these people that became my friends by blogging. I have become friends with really awesome people and reading there blogs and getting feedback from them is amazing.

As I said in the past, meeting someone like Bryan Payne, who has become a really good friend and feeling connected to him wouldn't have been possible.

Then there is also people like Dana Rucker and Nina Jack, with whom we stayed in LA that wouldn't have happened if I wasn't using English on Twitter.

And I always strive to improve in whatever I do. By writing in English I believe my English will improve over the years to come.

Now why is my English and particular my grammar not the best there is?

You see I grew up in a town called Pietersburg which is in the northern part of South Africa and is also a very conservative part of the country mainly farming community. Most of the residents back then if not all were speaking Afrikaans.

As we would refer to English back then as "the Enemies language" it was only spoken in school during the once a day English class. Even the Asian and Indian people who owned shops in Pietersburg quickly learned to speak Afrikaans if they wanted their business to survive.

We saw English as a subject in school and not as a language we were busy learning. There was no difference between English and Science. You did your homework, spoke it in class and that was it until tomorrows class.

Even the schools in Pietersburg was overwhelming Afrikaans schools. There were six Afrikaans Primary schools versus one English school and four Afrikaans High schools versus one English High school.

I can remember when we were children my parents had to translate some parts of the odd English program we were watching as we didn't understand all the words. 99% of the TV programs we watched were Afrikaans.

It was only when I went to Pretoria to study further that I had to use English more often in class and when I started working I had to use English to sell cars to English customers. I can remember some English people looking at me funny when I explained some vehicle stuff to them, but I became a good salesman even selling in English.

Two mishaps I'll never forget was once telling a customer which lever is his "flicker", actually it was the indicator but in Afrikaans we call it a "Flikker". And to another I said your car is on it's way from the "Fabric" actually it was suppose to be the "Factory" but in Afrikaans it is called a "Fabriek".

But never the less I made it through my studies and became a successful businessmen even when I'm not the best English speaking person there is.

Luckily one learn from your mistakes and I do whatever I can to help DJ, my daughter, while she is young to be better at English than her father. She has English friends, watch a lot of English programs on TV and listen to a lot of English music and reading English books. She will often joke with me and say "My Father have been speaking English deliciously since he was twice" and would crack herself for her joke about her Dad

Well there you have it, so forgive me if my grammar is not of the best but at least you can be part of my life and understand it.


  1. Johan,like most athletes you are being hard on yourself! the content of your posts and the inspiration hidden within the words make up for any grammatical 'errors'. Hell, English is my first language and apparently I still dont know how to spell, so relatively speaking you are kicking my butt! Cheers

  2. Johan, What an awesome post. Your English is perfect in that it gives everyone a flavour of your character. That's a difficult to do in words. Although I'm a Joburger, Italian was my first language, English my second and Afrikaans my third. My Afrikaans makes people laugh, the Italians think I sound like I'm from Tuscany Italy (?), English people wonder why I say "my cha-na" when I speak about my friends. Rock on!

  3. John
    Thanks for messsage. Glad you find some inspiration in it.

  4. Robby
    Wow being able to speak three languages, that's awesome.
    I learned Italian about 5 years ago. Could help myself with the basics when I visited Italy twice,but if you don't speak it often you loose everything.


  5. It might be appropriate to say "I get by" rather than "speak" the languages. We'll chat in Italian at PE 2010 so everyone thinks we're international Eurotrash and get free drinks at the bar. ;o)

  6. Robby
    don't think that will be good idea as my Italian is now down to base words.
    Conversation from my side will be something like this:
    Buongiorno.......Come sta?..........
    Non c'male........ Si.....No....
    la birra per favore.......grazie....

  7. That's all the vocabulary you'll need for the after party beer tent. Lovely jubbly!