Cape Flats English

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Cape Flats English (abbreviated CFE) or Coloured English is the variety of South African English spoken mostly in the Cape Flats area of Cape Town.[1] Its speakers most often refer to it as "broken English", which probably reflects a perception that it is simply inadequately-learned English, but, according to Karen Malan, it is a distinct, legitimate dialect of English.[2]

Cape Flats English is very close to the Broad (or "Extreme") variety of White South African English. Wood (1987) argues that the Respectable−Extreme (or "Cultivated−Broad") dichotomy can also be set up for CFE itself, with the former being used by the middle-class (whose L1 tends to be CFE) and the latter being used by the working-class (whose L1 tends to be the Cape Vernacular variety of Afrikaans).[3]


  • Double negatives occur in the context of a co-occurring indefinite, as in "I didn't catch nothing".[4]
  • Calques from Afrikaans may occur, such as "I took that towel and I made me closed" (Afrikaans: (...) myself toegemaak; standard English: (...) wrapped myself).[5]

Phonetics and phonology[edit]


  1. ^ Finn (2004), p. 964.
  2. ^ Malan (1996), p. 134.
  3. ^ Finn (2004), pp. 967–968.
  4. ^ Malan (1996), pp. 138–139.
  5. ^ Malan (1996), p. 139.


  • Finn, Peter (2004), "Cape Flats English: phonology", in Schneider, Edgar W.; Burridge, Kate; Kortmann, Bernd; Mesthrie, Rajend; Upton, Clive (eds.), A handbook of varieties of English, 1: Phonology, Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 964–984, ISBN 3-11-017532-0
  • Malan, Karen (1996), "Cape Flats English", in De Klerk, Vivian (ed.), Focus on South Africa, John Benjamins Publishing, pp. 125–148, ISBN 90-272-4873-7
  • Wood, Tahir M. (1987), Perceptions of, and attitudes towards varieties of English in the Cape Peninsula, with particular reference to the "Coloured Community", Grahamstown: Rhodes University