How is the Afrikaans word 'baas' used in South Africa today?

the word is a trope of anti apartheid (english) lit and film so i only know it from there.

in RSA, if someone of another race is in fact a 'baas', might they be called that?

if they r speaking english? if they r speaking afrikaans? another language?

any anecdotes?

3 Answers

  • ?
    Lv 5
    8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    'Baas' is an Afrikaans word that translates as 'master'. It is/was usually used by black unskilled laborers to address their white bosses and has become widely symbolic of the racial oppression that characterized the apartheid regime.

    Add: Anecdotes - Unfortunately, the myth of white superiority has not only been ingrained in the minds of many white South Africans but also black South Africans. I remember as a child our family employed a domestic worker (most middle class families, especially white families in South Africa have maids who come in at least a few times a week - and usually are employed full-time. Gardeners are also common, but usually have a couple of regular clients - they may work for one household two days a week, and work the other two at a different household, and then the last day of the week at another household). At any rate, our domestic worker used to refer to my father as 'baas', even though he asked her to rather call him by his first-name or Mr. (surname). a number of times. She didn't seem to be able to bring herself to do it, it almost came instantly to her, such was the ingrained sense of devaluing herself. For E.G:(names obviously changed here)

    My dad: "Please can you call me Dave?"

    Alice: "Yes baas."

    My Dad: "Or Mr. Smith?"

    Alice: "Yes Mr. Smith, baas."

    You have to remember that, under the apartheid era, many black people who did not refer to to their 'employers' as baas faced physical violence or worse, and had little if any recourse to justice. Fortunately the use of the word is dying out, but it is taking a long time and we still have quite a long way to go.

    It is hard to think of an anecdote, insofar as this connotes an unusual or special incident, which is not the case in S.A. I am not sure where you are from, but it would be like me saying to you, "can you tell me an anecdote of someone crossing the road." Probably nothing would stand out in your mind, because you see it all the time.

    Another word in South African lingo is a "baaskap mentality", which refers an ideology which perpetuates the belief that whites are superior to blacks and that blacks are their natural servants. This word brings an anecdote to mind. - In the recent elections, leader of the now defunct Independent Democrats, Patrica de Lille, accused Helen Zille the leader of another (and larger) opposition party (The Democratic Alliance) of having a "baasskap mentality". The parties have since merged (after the 2009 national elections when the comments were made), which should indicate to you how crazy politics in S.A. is.

    Source(s): S.A. citizen
  • Pamela
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Yes, its never a waste to learn a language. The vast majority of whites speak both English and Afrikaans - some better than others of course. Until recently a pass in both languages were required to graduate from high school. The "split" between white English and Afrikaans mother tongue speakers is roughly 60/40 overall but there is considerable variation geographically, socially and by economic sector. The "aspirational" language is English. All schools offer it. Even though the matriculation standards specify "any two" of SA's 11 official languages, English is inevitably chosen as one of them. Meanwhile the number of schools offering Afrikaans as a subject are declining as Afrikaans medium schools (as well as colleges and universities) are put under enormous pressure to introduce other languages. Among black South Africans there is a very strong shift away from Afrikaans toward English as a second (even third, fourth or fifth) language. This shift began in the 1970's but was "delayed" by the necessity to understand the "bosses" under Apartheid. It became stigmatised as the "language of the opressor". With the Afrikaner's loss of political hegemony the necessity to know the language for political purposes has dissapeared, hence the shift towards English.

  • Rain
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    baas has a lot of meanings such as

    boss, master, chief, mistress, govenor, overman

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