10 DECEMBER 1948, Page 17


Sut,—Turning the pages of an earlier Spectator, I noticed a letter from my friend Professor E. A. Walker on the spelling of the word " Afrikaner," in the sense of a South African of Dutch descent. He is right in quoting authorities for the spelling " Africander " and its variants ; but his appeal is to the past and Horace has told us that words change when custom so decrees—si volet usus. Custom at present has certainly decreed that " Afrikaner " is the right form. A man would be hard put to it to find the older form in any newspaper or periodical of the present day: the daily Press has universally adopted Afrikaner, and so have official Govern- ment publications. Similarly the word " veld " was once generally spelled " veldt " ; but now the former spelling has prevailed in all South African publications ; and " kopjes " is gradually yielamg to the Afrikaans form " koppies " (in the sense of hills).—Yours sincerely, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. T. J. HAARHOFF.