Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/484

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South Africa

to a still further simplification of speech structure and curtailment of the vocabulary. There thus grew up an ungrammatical dialect of Dutch, suited only to the most ordinary requirements of the everyday life of a rural population. It became a language with neither a syntax nor a literature. At the same time it remained in character almost entirely Dutch, no French—in spite of the incorporation into the population of the Huguenot emigrants—and only a few Malay words finding a place in the Taal. But side by side with this language of everyday life a purer form of Dutch has continued to exist and find its uses under certain conditions. It must be borne in mind that the Boers of every grade have always been more or less sedulously instructed in religious subjects, at all events to the extent required to fit them for formal membership of their church, and in all their wanderings they have usually been attended by their pastors. The Dutch Bible and Catechism are written in pure Dutch. The language of the Dutch Bible is as majestic as that of the English version. Moreover, the services of the Church have always been conducted in grammatical though simple Dutch; and the clergy, in their intercourse with the people, have as a general rule abstained from conversing in the ordinary dialect. The Boer thus has but slight difficulty in reading and understanding pure Dutch. Under the influence of Africander nationalism strenuous efforts have been made to teach the language in the schools throughout the greater part of South Africa. In the Transvaal and Orange Free State education was imparted almost exclusively in Dutch. All public business in the government offices and law courts was conducted in the language, and the Transvaal at the time of its annexation by Great Britain was being gradually inundated by officials, railway servants and others introduced from Holland, who spoke modern Dutch. Officially throughout the Union of South Africa both languages are now on a footing of equality.

Throughout South Africa a number of words, mainly Dutch, are in general use by the English-speaking inhabitants and also, to a considerable extent, among the natives. The most common of these words, with their English meanings, are here set forth. When not otherwise stated the words are of Dutch origin:—

Assegai a spear used by the Kaffir tribes; a word adopted from the Portuguese, but of Berber origin.
Boschveld a plain or open stretch of country covered with thin wood or bush. Often written bushveld.
Bywoners (literally witnesses) “poor whites,” the name given by the Boers to the landless whites, hangers-on at farms, &c.
Daal valley.
Dorp village.
Drift ford (a “Taal” word).
Ervan (sing. erf)  plots of land.
Fontein fountain, spring.
Hoek corner, angle, hook. Common in place-names.
Inspan to harness.
Kaffir (Arabic for unbeliever [in Islam]) a native of Bantu stock; more loosely any native.
Karroo any arid district; now the name of definite regions (from the Hottentot).
Kloof fissure or crevice, hence a ravine or narrow valley.
Kop (literally head) a hill, generally rounded. Flat-topped hills are usually called tafel (table) or plat (flat) bergs.
Kopje a little hill; the name given to the isolated pointed hills which are a characteristic feature of the plains of South Africa.
Kraal an enclosure, hence a native village. Probably from the Portuguese.
Krantz (or Kranz)  an overhanging wall of rock, hence a steep cliff, a precipice. A “Taal” word derived from the Dutch krans, a wreath, chaplet or cornice
Nek literally neck GullBrace.svg mountain passes or passes between mountains.
Poort literally gate
Rand border, edge, hence a low and usually round range of hills.
Ruggens ridges, applied to undulating slopes or unirrigated hilly country.
Slim cunning, clever, adroit.
Sluit (Dutch sloot) ditch, gutter, small stream.
Spruit (literally shoot, spruilen, to spring up), stream, small river. The name given to intermittent streams liable to sudden freshets.
Stoep (literally a step). the name given to the platform or veranda of a house. The stoep is shaded by a roof and is a favourite rendezvous for the household and for visitors. Formerly all South African houses had stoeps, but in the central parts of the larger towns the buildings are now without verandas.
Trek (literally, pull, tug, trekken, to draw or pull), to leave a place, to take a journey; also the distance covered in a journey.
Veld field. The name given to open plains andto the grass-covered plateaus of the interior.
Vlei a hollow filled with water during rainy weather.
Uitspan to unharness.
Uitlander out lander, i.e. a foreigner.

Among other Dutch words frequently used in place-names may be instanced: rhenoster (rhinoceros), olifant (elephant), mooi (pretty), modder (mud), klip (cliff), berg (mountain), burg or stad (town), zwart (black), klein (little), groote (great), breede (broad), nieuw (new), zuur (sour), bokke (buck).

A number of Dutch weights and measures are also in general use. They include: muid = 3 bushels; morgen = 2.11654 acres. A Cape rood equals 12.396 English feet, and a Cape ton contains 2000 lb.

II.—Constitution of the Union of South Africa

In accordance with the provisions of an act of the British Parliament (South Africa Act 1909) Cape Colony, Natal, the Transvaal and Orange River colonies were united under one government in a legislative union under the British crown. The Union of South Africa, as the new state is named, was established on the 31st of May 1910. Upon its formation the colonies named became provinces of the Union. In the case of the Orange River colony its title was changed to Orange Free State province. The colonial legislatures were abolished, provincial councils, with strictly subordinate and delegated powers, were set up, and provincial administrators (local men) replaced the various governors. The history of the movement which led to unification is given in the following section. The main provisions of the constitution[1] are as follows:—

The executive government of the Union is vested in the king and may be exercised by the sovereign in person. It is, however, The Executive.administered by a governor-general, who holds office during the king's pleasure. The governor-general can dismiss ministers and dissolve parliament. He is empowered to dissolve both houses of the legislature simultaneously or the House of Assembly alone. He can perform no official act when beyond the territorial limits of the Union, but he can appoint a deputy to act for him during temporary absences. The governor-general is paid £10,000 a year out of the consolidated funds of the Union. He is advised by an executive council, whose members he nominates. The council must include the ministers of state; ministers administering departments of state may not exceed ten in number. Ministers cannot hold office for a longer period than three months unless they are or become members of either house of parliament. The control and administration of native affairs (which before the Union was, except at the Cape, largely in the hands of the colonial governors personally) is vested exclusively in the governor in council and to the same authority is entrusted all matters specially or differentially affecting Asiatics throughout the Union.

The legislative power is vested in a parliament consisting of the Sovereign, a Senate, and a House of Assembly. The Senate consists of 40 members, 8 representatives from each province, and 8 members nominated by the governor-general in council. Four of the nominated members are selected on the ground mainly of their thorough acquaintance with “the reasonable wants and wishes” of the coloured races in South Africa. The presence of both nominated and elected members in the Senate is a novel provision in the constitution of the upper chambers of British colonial legislatures. The senators chosen in 1910 hold office for ten years. After 1920 The Legislature.the Union parliament may make any alteration it sees fit in the constitution of the senate. A senator must be a British subject of European descent, must be thirty years old. be a parliamentary voter in one of the provinces, have lived for five years in the Union, and if an elected member be possessed of immovable property within the Union of the clear value of £500.

  1. For a detailed examination of the constitution and a comparison of it with the federal constitutions of Canada and Australia see “South African Union,” by A. Berriedale Keith, in the Journ. Soc. Comp. Legislation for October 1909.