Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron is facing fierce criticism in South Africa after she said her mother tongue, Afrikaans, is “a dying language”.
The “Monster” and “Tully” star made the comments on Monday’s episode of the “Smartless” podcast, saying the language he grew up with was fading away.
Theron, 47, who revealed she only learned to speak English fluently when she moved to the US at 19, said there are “about 44 people still speaking” Afrikaans.
“It’s definitely a dying language, it’s not a very useful language,” he told hosts Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett.
Theron’s remarks soon sparked a debate on social media in South Africa. While some called it ill-informed, others agreed that Afrikaans was a “dead language”.
“Charlize Theron is a legend!” a Twitter commenter he wrote. “In fact, Afrikaans is a dead language. It belongs to the past. It is a tool that was once used to oppress Africans.”
Another Twitter user said: “This statement was made by Charlize Theron to appease Hollywood. I am not competing with her. As with all other languages, the The African language must be preserved.”
Tim Theron, a South African actor and director not related to Theron, commented under a clip from the podcast shared on Instagram: “We’re so proud of Charlize and everything she’s accomplished…but we’re also so proud of our diversity and our amazing and beautiful official languages, of which Afrikaans is one.
“It’s not a ‘dying language’, and it’s not only spoken by 44 people. It’s spoken by millions of people, new songs and poems are written every day, movies are made, etc.
CNN has reached out to Theron’s representatives for further comment.
On Thursday, the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB), which was set up to promote multilingualism in the country, responded with a statement calling Theron’s comments “disturbing”, adding that statistics show that Afrikaans it is the third most spoken language in the country.
“These comments made by Ms. Theron perpetuate the persistent misconception that Afrikaans is only spoken by ‘boere’ white South Africans, which could not be further from the truth, as 60% of people who speak the language is black,” the statement said.
The PanSALB added that Theron was held in high esteem by South Africa and needed to “continue the commendable work of using her platform to highlight some of the critical socio-economic issues affecting the continent, including the importance of participating in public life using their own platform.” native language.”
Afrikaans, a language first introduced by Dutch colonial settlers and imposed on non-whites by the apartheid regime, is one of the 11 official languages recognized in South Africa. Includes Asian Malay, Malagasy, Khoi, San, Xhosa, French and Portuguese words.