Official Languages of the Union Act, 1925

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Official Languages of the Union Act, 1925
Coat of arms of South Africa (1910–1930).svg
CitationAct No. 8 of 1925 Wikisource page
Territorial extentUnion of South Africa
Enacted byParliament of South Africa
Royal assent22 May 1925
Commenced27 May 1925 (1925-05-27)
Effective31 May 1910
Repealed31 May 1961 (1961-05-31)
Repealed by
South Africa Constitution Act, 1961
Related legislation
South Africa Act, 1909
Afrikaans is recognised to have been an official language since 31 May 1910
Status: Repealed

The Official Languages of the Union Act, 1925 (Dutch: Wet op de Officiële Talen van de Unie, 1925 ) was an Act of the Parliament of South Africa that included Afrikaans as a variety of the Dutch.

The Act commenced on 27 May 1925, but deemed to have had effect since the creation of the Union in 1910, having the effect of making Afrikaans an official language of the Union of South Africa since that date.



The South Africa Act of 1909—the constitution of the Union—declared the English and Dutch languages to be the state's official languages.

Part 8, section 137, of the South Africa Act read:

Both the English and Dutch languages shall be official languages of the Union, and shall be treated on a footing of equality, and possess and enjoy equal freedom, rights, and privileges; all records, journals, and proceedings of Parliament shall be kept in both languages, and all Bills, Acts, and notices of general public importance or interest issued by the Government of the Union shall be in both languages.


Doubts soon arose about the status of the Afrikaans language and whether its status as a Dutch daughter language implied it to be on equal footing.

The single substantive provision of the Official Languages Act reads:

The word "Dutch" in section one hundred and thirty-seven of the South Africa Act, 1909, and wheresoever else that word occurs in the said Act, is hereby declared to include Afrikaans.


The South Africa Act and the Official Languages Act were repealed by the Constitution of 1961, which reversed the position of Afrikaans and Dutch. Subsequently, English and Afrikaans were the official languages, and Afrikaans was deemed to include Dutch.

The Constitution of 1983 removed any mention of Dutch altogether.


  • Newton, A. P., ed. (1936). "Chapter XXXII: Cultural Development". Cambridge History of the British Empire. 8. London: CUP. OCLC 222649801.
  • Reagan, T. (1988). The "Language Struggle" in South Africa: Emergence and Development in Educational Policy. Storrs: TWEC. OCLC 17790045.
  • Sen, D. (1940). "Chapter IX: Safeguards in the Dominions". The Problem of Minorities. Calcutta: Calcutta University Press. OCLC 917020385.
  • Steyn, J. (June 2007). "Ons vier 'n negentigste verjaarsdag". Literator (in Afrikaans). 38 (1): a1365. doi:10.4102/lit.v38i1.1365. ISSN 2219-8237.

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