View Full Version : How Many Frisian Speakers Are There?

Angelcynn Beorn
Friday, August 11th, 2006, 08:40 PM
How many people are left that speak Frisian these days? From what i have heard most of the traditional Frisian speakers have now adopted the Dutch language in order to fit in more with Dutch society.

On a similar note, how closely related are Dutch and Frisian to each other as languages?

Friday, August 11th, 2006, 09:52 PM
It would be 60 % of the Firsian population, according to this (www.let.uu.nl/~Michael.Moortgat/personal/Courses/groepe.doc) document (in dutch).

54,8% are active speakers, 94% has passive knowledge. The number is steadily declining.

Kids learn it at school, though, but they aren't known for using their language.

On a similar note, how closely related are Dutch and Frisian to each other as languages?

Fries has a few sub branches, but even I, and I'm Flemish - I understand what they're talking about - some exceptions excluded. The Black Prince, who is Frisian - and knows all about this matter - more than I do - could give you a first hand account.

The Black Prince? :)

Friday, August 11th, 2006, 11:52 PM
On a similar note, how closely related are Dutch and Frisian to each other as languages? Dutch is descended from Old Low Franconian which is descended, along with High German, from Old German. Frisian is descended from Old Frisian (surprise!), which, along with English, is descended from Anglo-Frisian. Both Anglo-Frisian (also known as Ingvaeonic) and Old German are memebers of the West-Germanic Branch of the Germanic language family tree.

So English is in fact more closely related to Frisian, than Dutch is to Frisian. Now due to roughly a Millenium and a half of geographical separation, and close interaction between the Dutch and the Frisians, Frisian is now more similar to Dutch than it is to English. Although English is still closer to Frisian than English is to Dutch.;)

An old Frisian saying goes like this:

"Brea, bûter, en griene tsiis is goed Ingelsk en goed Frysk”

It doesn't even require a translation.

I'm sure the Black prince could make a small table comparing English, Frisian and Dutch cognates. :thumbup

The Black Prince
Sunday, August 13th, 2006, 12:18 AM
Hi Jamopy,

I'm Frisian (Friesian/Frysk/Frisk/Friese/Fris/Frees/Fries/Fryes/Frijes/Frisoi/Frisii/ etc..). Once we where the greatest threat of the Frankish Empire and the Danes/Norse, when Friesland stretched from Flanders to Jutland (although I doubt that all inhabitants felt themself Frisian). Nowadays we recide to a province of the Netherlands named Friesland and some areas in Germany (Ost-Friesland, Nord-Friesland).

Considering your questions I will divide them in several parts and try to answer them on my best.:thumbup

From what i have heard most of the traditional Frisian speakers have now adopted the Dutch language in order to fit in more with Dutch society.
I live in Friesland (Dutch province), although our language is under pressure it has a protection status within the EU, meaning that the language is subsidised to be educated on schools and that all official papers (within the province) must be in Frisian and Dutch written. Further more it is the right of every Frisian within the Netherlands to speak and write his own language when in contact with the authorities since Frisian is the second language in the Netherlands.

Unlike the tales told by intolerant/ignorant "Hollanders" from the Randstad (large urbanized area combing Amsterdam and Rotterdam + urban areas in between) Frisians are very polite and usually speak Dutch to other Dutchmen, or English to Englishmen, they are not to proud/stubborn for this.

The percentage of inhabitants of Friesland according to modern data (2006) that still speak Frisian at home is estimated about 33% to 50%.
In the villages and farmsteads the common language is still Frisian and in the towns it is 50/50 while in the large towns (Leeuwarden, Heerenveen, Sneek, Drachten, Harlingen) its estimated much less...

One should however take into account that a large component of the nowadays Frisian inhabitants is not or only partial Frisian E.g. a lot of Frisian sons of farmers have emigrated to Denmark, Canada, America or Eastern-Europe in the last two decades because of strict Dutch environmental laws and taxes, while a lot of other Frisians has jobs elsewhere in the Netherlands and moved towards (therefore adapting).

On a similar note, how closely related are Dutch and Frisian to each other as languages?
Like Thiedischer explained it has got close related since the last millenia, although one should notice that onto the 12th century the counts of Holland still named themself "House of Vrieslant" (meaning Dutch prov. South- and North-Holland, previously known as West-Friesland) a similar wave is seen in linguistics, f.i. until the 13th century the Frisian language put a large mark on the Dutch language while the roles changed in the 14th century.
Nowadays Frisian is influenced by a Dutch/English language while Dutch is only influenced by a English influence.

For some general information about the Frisian language I made a thread about half a year ago, however it shows statistics from the "90's"(I think Parsifal used the same statistics :) ) and not new ones from "2006":


For a global comparing of different Germanic languages I once started a thread (in my early time on Skadi). It consists out of terms probably known in Germanic times and still known now (e.g. agriculture, war, etc..):


Ofcourse I'l be glad to show Thiedischer a small comparisonof terms, although Im pretty sure that he knows already that early Medieval English can hardly be distincted from Medieval Frisian.;)

in follow up, English, Frisian, Dutch, German:

Sheep, Sheep | Skiep, Skiep | Schaap, Schapen | Schaf, Schafe
Cow, Cows | Ko, Kei | Koe, Koeien | Kuh, Kühe
Key, Keys| Kaai, .. | Sleutel, Sleutels | Schlüssel, Schlüssels
Sweety, Sweets ? | Swyd, Swydsjes| Zoetje (snoep), Zoetjes | Süß, Süß
Boat, Boats | Boat, Boaten | Boot, Boten | Boot, Boote
Master, Masters | Master, Masters | Meester, Meesters | Meister, Meisters


one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.
ien, twa, trije, fjouwer, fiif, sijs, sân, acht, njoggen, tsien.
één, twee, drie, vier, vijf, zes, zeven, acht, negen, tien.
ein, zwei, drei, vier, fünf, sechs, sieben, acht, neun, zehn.

Sunday, August 13th, 2006, 02:49 PM
Excellent summary The Black Prince. It's good to see Frisians on this board too, there's been a long time a lack of it (at least, the ‘previous time’ when I was member here...)

Dutch Wolf
Sunday, August 27th, 2006, 01:27 PM
According to the last figures there are currently about 350.000 people who still speak Frisian. There are 642.998 (january 2005) people living in Fryslân.