Original Research

The present is a thing of the past: Possible linguistic motivations for the ‘present tense writing tradition’ in Afrikaans prose

Adri Breed
Literator | Vol 34, No 2 | a425 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v34i2.425 | © 2013 Adri Breed | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 February 2013 | Published: 12 November 2013

About the author(s)

Adri Breed, School of Languages, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa


There exists a long-standing tradition in Afrikaans creative writing to present narrative prose in the present tense, and not in the simple past as in English and Dutch. It is, however, difficult to prove the existence of such a tradition or to conduct a literature survey in order to determine the reasons for the origin and perpetuation of this tradition. This article firstly demonstrates from a creative writing perspective that the ‘present tense writing tradition’ does exist in Afrikaans. Secondly, two possible motivations for this tradition are proposed from a linguistic perspective. The goal of this article is not to question the validity of this tradition, but rather to open a discussion on the legitimacy of the tradition, as well as the implication it has for the writing, reading and interpretation of Afrikaans literary works.


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