Cape Flats English
RegionCape Town
Latin (English alphabet)
Language codes
ISO 639-3

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]

Not all speakers from Cape Flats speak this variety of English, with many speaking an accent similar to White South African English. Many develop accents because most television shows are American.[citation needed]


Phonetics and phonology

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  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, vol. 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" (PDF), Grahamstown: Rhodes University