The controversial view of Charlize Theron on Afrikaans is that "It's not a very beneficial language."

Hollywood actress Charlize Theron has received a tonne of backlash for referring to her native Afrikaans as "a dying language."

Theron jokingly said it was "not very useful" and that "roughly 44 people" spoke it.

She said she was raised in South Africa speaking exclusively Afrikaans until acquiring English at the age of 19, which is why she speaks it with an American accent. She made the statements on the SmartLess podcast.

Many of the millions of Afrikaans speakers in South Africa were enraged. 

Singing in Afrikaans, Steve Hofmeyr tells TimesLive that the language is "alive and strong" and that it has some of the finest expletives. He also criticised the decision to switch the primary language of instruction from historically Afrikaans colleges to English.

According to actor Tim Theron, who is cited by the South African website News 24, Afrikaans is "not dying... there are new songs and poetry being produced every day, movies are being created, etc."

Some Twitter commentators criticised Charlize Theron for being "ashamed of her roots" or looking for affirmation from black people, while others praised her for speaking Afrikaans, which was "was used to subjugate Africans" and "had a strong connotation with apartheid."

Due to its role during the decades of white minority rule, when a number of discriminatory laws known as apartheid were implemented to repress the nation's black majority, Afrikaans is very politicised in South Africa.

According to Prof Pitika Ntuli, a cultural analyst and artist, "Afrikaans is an African language that was established here in Africa, but it became a language that polarised people under apartheid."

The major cause of the 1976 Soweto revolt against the apartheid state, which resulted in at least 170 fatalities, largely students, was the imposition of the language in schools.

13% of South Africans, mostly white South Africans descended from immigrants who came to the country in the 17th century from the Netherlands, Germany, and France, as well as persons of mixed races known as "coloureds" in the nation, speak it as their first language.

Indigenous languages were suppressed and only English, Dutch, and Afrikaans served as the official state languages during apartheid; however, after white minority rule ended in 1994, South Africa declared 11 official languages. English, Afrikaans, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Siswati, Tshivena, and Xitsonga are among them.

According to Audrey Brown of the BBC, "I love the language but I despise the fact that it was used to oppress us, that it signifies oppression, and that it invokes horrific emotions and experiences."

A lot of South Africans believe that more has to be done to achieve real language equality, especially students who are pushing for more university courses to be taught in African languages.

Prof. Pitika Ntuli counters that this does not imply that Afrikaans is a language in decline.

He enjoys how expressive and poetic Afrikaans can be, just like Hofmeyr. Additionally, he chuckles, "it is quite good at insulting people — that's why it is so lovely."