Andries Coetzee has just been elected as member of "Suid Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns" (South African Academy for Science and Art). This organization, akin to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, is a multidisciplinary organization with membership by election. Its mission is the advancement of science, technology, literature and the arts in Afrikaans, as well as the advancement of the scientific study of Afrikaans and of Afrikaans as a language of science.
The Academy was founded in 1909 with the original aim of advancing the use and study of the Dutch language in South Africa. At the time of its founding, Afrikaans was not yet recognized as a language separate from Dutch. The founding documents of the Academy therefore explicitly stated that it understood Dutch to include "both forms of the language used in South Africa" (that is, both Dutch and what was later to be known as Afrikaans). Since those early years, the Academy has expanded its scope significantly and has become an important feature on the cultural and scientific landscape of South Africa. In addition to publishing several academic journals in Afrikaans, the Academy also funds graduate student fellowships, and regularly organizes academic conferences and cultural events.
The Academy also sponsors the "Taalkommissie" (Language Commission) that is responsible for publishing the Afrikaanse Woordelys en Spelreëls (The Afrikaans Word List and Spelling Rules). The first edition of the Woordelys appeared in 1917, and the most recent 10th edition in 2009 (with a new edition currently under preparation). The Woordelys has played a pivotal role in establishing a written standard for Afrikaans, and hence in the development of an Afrikaans literary tradition. The most recent editions of the Woordelys have expanded coverage to incorporate the various dialectal variants of Afrikaans.
The Academy has had many illustrious members in its history, including many literary giants of Afrikaans, as well as prominent Afrikaans academics and artists. Andries Coetzee is being recognized for his active engagement in the South African research community and his own research focusing on the documentation of various varieties of Afrikaans.