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Thread: The Frisian Language

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    'The Position of Frisian in the Germanic Language Area'

    An interesting paper i found about the linguistic relation between Frisian and the other Germanic languages. The paper also includes comparisons between the other combinations of Germanic languages.

    Some interesting parts:


    The relationship between Frisian and the other Germanic languages

    From Table 3 and 4 it is possible to determine the distance between all Germanic standard languages. We are especially interested in the position of Frisian within the Germanic language group. For this purpose the mean distance over the 6 Frisian dialects (excluding the dialect of Leeuwarden which is considered Dutch) has been added. This makes it possible to treat Frisian as one language. Examining the column which shows the ranking with respect to Frisian, we find that Dutch is most similar to Frisian (a mean distance of 38.7%). Clearly the intensive contact with Dutch during history has had a great impact on the distance between the two languages.

    Moreover, German appears to be closer to Frisian than any other language outside the Netherlands. Looking at the ranking with respect to Dutch, it appears that Town Frisian is most similar (Leeuwarden 20.3%), followed by the Frisian varieties (average of 38.7%). Next, German is most similar, due to common historical roots and continuous contact (a distance of 53.3%).

    As discussed in the introduction, Friesland has a long history of language contact with the Scandinavian countries, and traces of Scandinavian influences can be found in the Frisian language. The impact of this contact is reflected in our results only to a limited extent. Remarkably, the distances to the mainland Scandinavian languages (Danish, Norwegian and Swedish) are smaller (between 60.7% and 63.3%) than to English (65.3%) even though the Frisian language is genetically closer related to English than to Scandinavian.

    Conclusions and discussion

    Overall, the classification of the Germanic languages resulting from our distance measurements supports our predictions. This goes for the classification of the Frisian dialects and also for the rest of the Germanic languages. We interpret this as a confirmation of the suitability of our material showing that it is possible to measure Levenshtein distances on the basis of whole texts with assimilation phenomena typical of connected speech and with a rather limited number of words.

    The aim of the present investigation was to get an impression of the position of the Frisian language in the Germanic language area on the basis of quantitative data. The fact that Frisian is genetically most closely related to English yields the expectation that these two languages may still be linguistically similar. However, the distance between English and the Frisian dialects is large. We can thus conclude that the close genetic relationship between English and Frisian is not reflected in the linguistic distances between the modern languages. Geographical and historical circumstances have caused the two languages to drift apart linguistically. Frisian has been strongly influenced by Dutch whereas English has been influenced by other languages, especially French.

    It would have been interesting to include these languages in our material. This would have given an impression of their impact on the English language. At the same time it would also have given us the opportunity to test the Levenshtein method on a larger language family than the Germanic family with its relatively closely related languages. It would also be interesting to include Old English in our material since this would give us an impression of how modern Frisian is related to the English language at a time when it had only recently separated from the common Anglo-Saxon roots to which also Old Frisian belonged.

    For many centuries Frisian has been under the strong influence from Dutch and the Frisian and Dutch language areas share a long common history. It therefore does not come as a surprise that Dutch is the Germanic language most similar to the language varieties spoken in Friesland.

    It may be surprising that the linguistic distances between Dutch and the Frisian dialects are smaller than the distances between the Scandinavian languages (a mean difference of 6%). Scandinavian languages are known to be mutually intelligible. This means that when, for example, a Swede and a Dane meet, they mostly communicate each in their own language.

    This kind of communication, which is known as semi-communication (Haugen, 1966), is not typical in the communication between Dutch-speaking and Frisian-speaking citizens in the Netherlands. The two languages are considered so different that it is not possible for a Dutch-speaking person to understand Frisian and consequently the Frisian interlocutor will have to speak Dutch to a non-Frisian person. Our results raise the question whether semi-communication would also be possible in a Dutch-Frisian situation. If this is not the case, we may explain this by linguistic and non-linguistic differences between the Frisian-Dutch situation and the Scandinavian situation.

    The Levenshtein distance processes lexical, phonetic and morphological differences. All three types are present in our transcription, since word lists are derived from running texts. Syntactic characteristics are completely excluded from the analysis. It might be the case that certain characteristics play a larger role for the Levenshtein distances than desirable in the case of the Scandinavian languages if we were to use the method for the explaining mutual intelligibility. For example, it is wellknown among the speakers of Scandinavian languages that many words end in an ‘a’ in Swedish while ending in an ‘e’ in Danish.

    Probably people use this knowledge in an inter-Scandinavian situation. However, this difference is included in the Levenshtein distances between Swedish and Danish. It is possible that Frisian-Dutch differences are less predictable or less well-known by speakers of the two languages. It is also possible that the difference in communication in the Netherlands and in Scandinavia should be sought at the extra-linguistic level. Scandinavian research on semi-communication has shown that the willingness to understand and the belief that it is possible to communicate play a large role for mutual intelligibility between speakers of closely related languages.

    Staying with the Scandinavian languages, it should be noted that the mainland Scandinavian languages are in fact closer to Frisian than English, even though the Scandinavian languages belong genetically to another Germanic branch than English and Frisian. This can probably be explained by intensive contacts between Frisians and Scandinavians for many centuries. However, the common idea among some speakers of Frisian and Scandinavian that the two languages are so close that they are almost mutually intelligible is not confirmed by our results, at least not as far as the standard Scandinavian languages are concerned. Probably this popular idea is built on the fact that a few frequent words are identical in Frisian and Scandinavian.

    It is possible, however, that this picture would change if we would include more Danish dialects in our material. For example, it seems to be relatively easy for fishermen from Friesland to speak to their colleagues from the west coast of Denmark. Part of the explanation might also be that fishermen share a common vocabulary of professional terms. Also the frequent contact and a strong motivation to communicate successfully are likely to be important factors.

    As we mentioned in the introduction, among dialects in the Netherlands and Flanders, the Frisian varieties are most deviant from Standard Dutch. However, among the varieties which are recognized as languages in the Germanic language area, Frisian is most similar to Dutch. The smallest distance between two languages, apart from Frisian, was found between Norwegian and Swedish: 43.4%. The distance between Frisian and Dutch is smaller: 38.7%.

    The Town Frisian variety of the capital of Friesland (Leeuwarden) has a distance of only 20.3% to Dutch. Although the recognition of Frisian as second official language in the Netherlands is right in our opinion, we found that the current linguistic position of Frisian provide too little foundation for becoming independent from the Netherlands, as some Frisians may wish.

    Source: http://www.let.rug.nl/~heeringa/dial...pers/tdg03.pdf
    Bûter, brea en griene tsiis
    Wa't dat net sizze kin is gjin oprjochte Fries!

  2. #32
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    Would be interesting to have a proto-germanic reconstructed language.
    weel nich will dieken dej mot wieken

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    The aim of the present investigation was to get an impression of the position of the Frisian language in the Germanic language area on the basis of quantitative data. The fact that Frisian is genetically most closely related to English yields the expectation that these two languages may still be linguistically similar. However, the distance between English and the Frisian dialects is large. We can thus conclude that the close genetic relationship between English and Frisian is not reflected in the linguistic distances between the modern languages. Geographical and historical circumstances have caused the two languages to drift apart linguistically. Frisian has been strongly influenced by Dutch whereas English has been influenced by other languages, especially French.

    It would have been interesting to include these languages in our material. This would have given an impression of their impact on the English language. At the same time it would also have given us the opportunity to test the Levenshtein method on a larger language family than the Germanic family with its relatively closely related languages. It would also be interesting to include Old English in our material since this would give us an impression of how modern Frisian is related to the English language at a time when it had only recently separated from the common Anglo-Saxon roots to which also Old Frisian belonged.
    Staying with the Scandinavian languages, it should be noted that the mainland Scandinavian languages are in fact closer to Frisian than English, even though the Scandinavian languages belong genetically to another Germanic branch than English and Frisian. This can probably be explained by intensive contacts between Frisians and Scandinavians for many centuries.
    English is very distinct from the other Germanic languages, some people place it on its own branch between West and North Germanic. It's developed relatively isolated from other Germanic languages since the Norman invasion whilst even the Frisians living in the marshes and islands would have had occasional contact with Germans and Dutch.

  4. #34
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    Since the advent of Middle English, English has been a Franco-Germanic language. German, Frisian, Dutch, Afrikaans, and the North Germanic languages of Scandinavia, Iceland, etc. are purer Germanic languages than English. The Norman dialect of Old French, one of the langues d'oïl, was too great an influence on the English language. It has its advantages: English is rich in synonyms; however, it lessened the Germanic character of English.

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by DutchfromHolland View Post
    This is a great thread! I read somewhere that Frysk is the closest related language to English.
    Besides Scottisch I believe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ocko View Post
    I am from East Friesland. they speak socalled plattdeutsch, which is similar to dutch.
    There are different kinds of Plattdeutsch also. I speak holsteiner Platt
    and can hardly understand people speaking east frisian Plattdeutsch.
    Especially because Plattdeutsch is a more spoken/living than written language, there is no uniform Dictionary, and also the books written in Plattdeutsch are using variant forms of spelling for the same words.


    Plattdeutsch from Holstein (northern Plattdeutsch with influences from Hamburg):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YnlC...eature=related


    East frisian Plattdeutsch:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eXEbv2WvL4


    --

    More about north frisian language from Wikipedia

    Quote Originally Posted by Wikipedia
    North Frisian language

    North Frisian is a minority language of Germany, spoken by about 10,000 people in North Frisia. The language is part of the larger group of the
    West Germanic Frisian languages.[...]

    Classification

    The closest relatives of North Frisian are the two other Frisian languages, the Saterland Frisian of north-western Lower Saxony, Germany, and the West Frisian language spoken in the northern Netherlands. Together these three form the group of Frisian languages.

    The English language is also closely related to Frisian. The two languages are classified in a common Anglo-Frisian group. Anglo-Frisian is grouped among the Ingvaeonic languages together with Low German. The related Low German has developed differently since Old Saxon times and has lost many Ingvaeonic characteristics.
    Dialects
    Overview

    The North Frisian dialects can be grouped into two main dialectal divisions: those of the mainland and the insular dialects. All in all these two groups comprise 10 dialects; The dialect spoken on the Halligen is one of the mainland dialects though. Typically one distinguishes between the following ten dialects that have been spoken since the beginning of Frisian linguistic studies in the 19th century.

    Insular North Frisian

    Sylt Frisian (Söl'ring)
    Föhr-Amrum Frisian (Fering/Öömrang)
    Heligolandic Frisian (Halunder)

    Mainland North Frisian

    Wiedingharde Frisian
    Bökingharde Frisian (Mooring)
    Karrharde Frisian
    Northern Goesharde Frisian
    Central Goesharde Frisian
    Southern Goesharde Frisian (extinct since 1981)
    Halligen Frisian

    The mainland and insular dialects clearly differ from each other because they were shaped by Frisian immigrants during several different centuries. The islands of Sylt, Föhr and Amrum were colonised around 800 while the mainland was settled by Frisians in AD 1100.

    Add to this the various influences of neighbouring languages on the dialects. On Sylt, Föhr and Amrum as well as in parts of the northern mainland there is a strong South Jutlandic influence, whereas on Heligoland and the rest of mainland North Frisia the Low German influence is predominant. Moreover, there has historically only been a limited exchange between the dialects so that hardly any lingua franca could develop and there was no cultural centre in North Frisia whose dialect would have been able to take a leading role.
    Samples

    The sentence displayed below in many variants reads, "'Shine, old moon, shine!', cried Häwelmann, but neither the moon nor the stars were anywhere to be seen; they had all already gone to bed" (from: Theodor Storm: Der kleine Häwelmann).

    Insular

    Söl'ring (dialect of Sylt)

    „Ljucht, ual Muun, ljucht!” skriilt Häwelmann, man di Muun wiar narigen tö sen en uk di Stiaren ek; ja wiar al altermaal tö Bēr gingen.

    Fering-Öömrang (dialect of Föhr and Amrum)

    „Locht, ual muun, locht!” rep Heewelmaan, man a muun wiar nochhuaren tu sen an a stäären uk ei; jo wiar al altermaal tu baad gingen.

    Heligolandic (dialect of Helgoland)

    „Lochte, ool Muun, lochte!” rüp Heäwelman, oawers de Muun wear naarni tu sin’n en uk de Steern ni; dja wear al allemoal tu Baad gingen.

    Mainland

    Northern Goesharde Frisian, Hoorninger Fräisch variety of Langenhorn

    „Jocht, uule moune, jocht!” biilked Hääwelmoon, ors e moune waas närngs to schüns än da steere ok ai; ja weern al aal to beede gingen.

    Wiedingharde Frisian

    „Ljocht, uuile moone, ljocht!” biilked Hääwelmuon, män e moone was näärgen to schüns än uk e steere ai; jä würn al altomoale to beerd gingen.

    Halligen Frisian (although it is spoken on the Halligen islands, it is linguistically grouped with the mainland dialects)

    „Jaacht, uale mööne, jaacht!” bölked Hääwelmoon, man de mööne woas näärngs to siinen än de steere uk ee; jä weern al altomaole to beed giangen.

    Mooring (dialect of Bökingharde)

    „Jucht, üülje moune, jucht!” biiljked Hääwelmoon, ouers e moune wus nargne tu schüns än e stääre uk ai; ja wjarn ål åltumååle tu beed lim.

    Note that, despite the differences between the dialects, the Fering and Öömrang are highly similar; in this example nearly identical.

    [...]

    Self-designation

    Due to the large number of dialects there is no original native name for the North Frisian language as such. E.g. the Wiedingharde and Halligen Frisians call their language freesk, in the Bökingharde it is called frasch, and in the Goesharde likewise fräisch or freesch. While these names all translate to "Frisian" the native names of the insular dialects refer to the particular islands as in Fering, Öömrang, Söl'ring or Halunder. E.g. "Frisian" would mean "fresk" in the Föhr dialect.

    The North Frisians eventually agreed upon the inter-dialectal name "friisk" which corresponds to the West Frisian native name "frysk". This designation is today mostly used when the North Frisian collectivity is addressed or in the names of official institutions such as Nordfriisk Instituut, Friisk Foriining or Friisk Gesäts. The northern section of the Interfrisian Council has however kept its name "Frasche Rädj" in the Mooring dialect.

    [...]

    Current situation

    Officially the number of North Frisian speakers ranges from 8,000 to 10,000[1] but linguists propose significantly lower numbers. In 2007, Århammar estimated a total of 5,000 speakers within and 1,500 to 2,000 speakers outside North Frisia proper. Exact surveys do not exist.

    North Frisian is an endangered language, as in most places children no longer learn it. In UNESCO's Red Book of Endangered Languages, North Frisian is classified as "seriously endangered". Exceptions are a few villages on the islands of Föhr and Amrum and the Risum-Lindholm area. Especially in the western parts of Föhr, the language community is still relatively sound. The number of speakers on Föhr and Amrum alone is estimated to around 3,500. The other dialects are in fact seriously endangered, like Karrharde Frisian, Central Goesharde and Halligen Frisian.

    The elementary and grammar school on Amrum is called Öömrang Skuul and among other subjects focuses on teaching the local dialect. Fering is also taught in schools on Föhr and the Risum Skole/Risem Schölj in Risum-Lindholm on the mainland is a combined Danish-Frisian elementary school.

    All speakers of North Frisian are at least bilingual (North Frisian and Standard German). Many are trilingual (North Frisian, Standard German and Low German) and, especially along the Danish border, quadrilingualism used to be widespread (North Frisian, Standard German, Low German and South Jutlandic).

    In Schleswig-Holstein, the North Frisian language is protected by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages as a minority language. On 24 December 2004 a state law became effective in Schleswig-Holstein that recognises the North Frisian language for official use in the Nordfriesland district and on Heligoland.

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