The Names of the Language of Schiermonnikoog

Written by Dyami Millarson

The island of Schiermonnikoog has its own language which has a wide variety of names. The language of Schiermonnikoog is called Eilauners or sometimes Schiermonseigers by those who speak the language themselves. Those who do not speak the language know the language of Schiermonnikoogs by other names: The language of Schiermonnikoog is called Schiermonnikoogs by people who speak Dutch, whilst the language of Schiermonnikoog is called Skiermûntseagersk by speakers of Frisian from the mainland.

Many small and endangered languages around the world have various names. These names can usually be divided into two groups: (a) endonyms, names that insiders have bestowed on their own language; and (b) exonyms, names that outsiders have bestowed on the language. This complex situation of nomenclature often makes it hard for researchers to settle on a name. There is often a dilemma: Use the endonym(s) or exonym(s)?

For describing the language of Schiermonnikoog in English, I have generally settled on using the endonym Eilauners (by which the locals know their language) and on freely using the exonym Schiermonnikoogs (by which most people in the Netherlands know the language). I help people know the language as Eilauners/Schiermonnikoogs so there is a bridge between the locals of the Schiermonnikoog and the majority of the population of the Netherlands. My intention, however, is to promote the endonym Eilauners at the expense of the exonym Schiermonnikoogs because the former demonstrates more respect and knowlegeability vis-à-vis the unique Frisian tongue of the island of Schiermonnikoog.

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