gifblaar (gifˌblär)

Gifblaar is a poisonous plant that is fatal to cattle in Southern Africa. (Image from

Hello everyone! Today, I’ve chosen to post about an unusual word from Afrikaans.

Afrikaans is an Indo-European language and is specifically part of the West Germanic language tree. It is the official language of South Africa and Namibia and is spoken by millions of people. Afrikaans is descended from Dutch, therefore, these two languages have similar language patterns. It is interesting to note that people who speak Afrikaans can also understand Dutch.

The word gifblaar comes from the Afrikaans roots gif, meaning poison, and blaar meaning leaf. The English translation for this word is “poison leaf.” Gifblaar is a poisonous plant native to Southern Africa and is toxic to cattle, causing death within hours of ingestion.


A lot of linguists believe that Proto-Indo-European was the ursprache* of Indo-European languages, but we actually don’t know what Proto-Indo-European sounded like. In the link below, a linguist at the University of Kentucky, Dr. Andrew Byrd, gives his best approximation of what our ancestors may have spoken thousands of years ago. When I listened to it, I was amazed that someone could recreate the language! Let me know what you think!

*I wrote about the word ursprache here: