4,000 WordPress Followers

Written by Dyami Millarson

This is a moon halo I observed at the end of 2020. The halo isn’t that clear in the picture, but it was in real life. I saw this rare phenomenon in the sky as an auspicious sign for the continuation of the Frisian language study mission in the next year!

Our blog reached 4000 followers on Thursday 18 February 2021. This made me think: I have reached a pivotal point in my multi-year journey to learn to speak and write all living Frisian languages, usually with self-imposed language challenges (see here as well). My aim is to study all of the living Frisian languages in a systemic, comparative way. It all began when Ken Ho and I studied Shire Frisian in 2016 with a language challenge that we announced in the media; then, after I had gone on a destined soul-searching quest in East Asia in 2017 which inspired me to study languages in a more effective, disciplined way, and as this necessary spiritual quest had helped to prepare me mentally for what was to come, I studied East Terschelling Frisian, Schiermonnikoog Frisian and Hindeloopen Frisian in 2018 with language challenges that I announced on our blog and in the media; I studied Ramsloh Frisian (a form of Sagelterland Frisian), Heligolandic Frisian and Elfdalian in 2019 with language challenges that I announced on our blog and I picked up Groningian (another name for Groningen Low Saxon), Swedish, German, Hallig Frisian and Langenhorn Frisian (a form of Northern Goesharde Frisian), Drenthe Low Saxon, Stellingwerf Low Saxon as well; I studied Drelsdorf Frisian (a form of Middle Goesharde Frisian), Ockholm Frisian (a form of Northern Goesharde Frisian), Föhr-Amrum Frisian and Mooring Frisian (a form of Bökingharde Frisian) in 2020 and I picked up and Scharrel Frisian (a form of Sagelterland Frisian) as well; I worked on the reconstruction of Molkwerum Frisian this year, I am currently studying Afrikaans for comparison with the Frisian languages, I intend to study Sylt Frisian, Wiedingharde Frisian and Karrharde Frisian and I may pick up Wangerooge Frisian as well. Not all of the languages I studied are Frisian, but they may be Frisian-adjacent or Frisian-related in one way or another. I have not announced all of my language challenges here, nor did I publish articles in all studied languages here; I will publish all of my study notes/observations eventually as well as the texts I wrote in these languages. I still have a lot of unpublished works saved in my computer and written on pieces of paper. I have so far not yet made information about my study of some of those languages publicly available because I studied them without spending any time on sharing my knowledge of them, this was in some cases the best option due to time constraints. I did not publish many posts on my blog in 2020, because I was busy studying: memorising, reviewing, reading, writing, collecting study materials.

I am not really fond of making lists of languages, but I will do exactly that for this article. I have studied 11-16 out of 14-25 living Frisian languages so far (possibly 14-24 living Frisian languages in total, depending for instance on whether Langenhorn and Ockholm Frisian may classify as different languages, whether Southwest Corner Frisian may be a different language from Shire Frisian, whether East Terschelling Frisian and West Terschelling Frisian may be different languages, whether Föhr Frisian and Amrum Frisian may be different languages, whether East Föhr and West Föhr Frisian may be different languages, whether East and West Sylt Frisian may be different languages, whether Scharrel Frisian, Strücklingen Frisian, Sedelsberg Frisian and Ramsloh Frisian may be different languages, and whether Wood Frisian and Clay Frisian may be different languages), namely the following (I noted the year of when I studied each of them between brackets and I underlined whatever I counted as being one single language for my conservative figure of 14 Frisian languages which is further explained at the bottom of this article and I put in italics whatever may potentially be considered separate languages which would increase the figure to more than 14 Frisian languages):

  • West Frisian language family (2016, 2018)
    • Terschelling-Shire Frisian (2016, 2018)
      • Shire Frisian (2016)
        • Western Shire Frisian (2016)
          • Clay Frisian (2016)
      • Terschelling Frisian (2018)
        • East Terschelling Frisian (2018)
    • East-West Frisian (2018)
      • Schiermonnikoog Frisian (2018)
    • Hindeloopen-Molkwerum Frisian (2018)
      • Hindeloopen Frisian (as written by T. van der Kooy; 2018)
  • East Frisian language family (2019, 2020)
    • Sagelterland Frisian (2019)
      • Ramsloh Frisian (2019)
        • Sagelterland Frisian as written by Gretchen Grosser (born and bred Ramsloh Frisian)
        • Sagelterland Frisian as written by Marron C. Fort
        • Sagelterland Frisian as written by Pyt Kramer
      • Scharrel Frisian (2020)
        • Sagelterland Frisian as written by Theo Griep
  • North Frisian language family (read more here; 2019, 2020)
    • Heligolandic Frisian (2019)
    • Hallig Frisian (2019)
    • Northern Goesharde Frisian (2019, 2020)
      • Langenhorn Frisian (2019)
      • Ockholm Frisian (2020)
    • Middle Goesharde Frisian (2020)
      • Drelsdorf Frisian (2020)
    • Föhr-Amrum Frisian (2020)
      • Föhr Frisian (2020)
        • East Föhr Frisian (2020)
        • West Föhr Frisian (2020)
      • Amrum Frisian (2020)
    • Bökingharde Frisian (2020)
      • Mooring Frisian (2020)
        • East Mooring Frisian (Risum-Lindholm Frisian; 2020)

I have studied this fragmentally attested, extinct Frisian language quite extensively:

  • West Frisian language family (2021)
    • Molkwerum-Hindeloopen Frisian (2021)
      • Molkwerum Frisian fragments (2021)

I haven’t taken a closer look at or studied these Frisian tongues intensively yet:

  • West Frisian languages
    • Terschelling-Shire Frisian
      • Shire Frisian
        • Eastern Shire Frisian
          • Wood Frisian (mutually intelligible with Clay Frisian which I already studied, see above)
          • Zwaagwesteinde Frisian (mutually intelligible with Clay Frisian)
        • Western Shire Frisian
          • North Point Frisian (North Clay Frisian; mutually intelligible with Clay Frisian)
            • East North Point Frisian
            • West North Point Frisian
    • Terschelling Frisian
      • West Terschelling Frisian (mutually intelligible with East Terschelling Frisian which I already studied, see above)
    • Southwest Frisian
      • Southwest Corner Frisian
      • Gaasterlandic Frisian
      • Lemsterlandic Frisian
  • East Frisian languages
    • Sagelterland Frisian
      • Strücklingen Frisian
      • Sedelsberg Frisian, i.e., Sagelterland Frisian as spoken in Sedelsberg (read more here)
  • North Frisian languages
    • Sylt Frisian
      • East Sylt Frisian
      • West Sylt Frisian
    • Wiedingharde Frisian
    • Karrharde Frisian
    • Bökingharde Frisian
      • West Mooring Frisian (Niebüll Frisian)

I have neither studied nor revived these extinct Frisian languages yet:

  • Extinct West Frisian languages
    • South Frisian
      • Hollandic Frisian fragments
  • Extinct North Frisian languages
    • Southern Goesharde Frisian
    • Strand Frisian fragments (read more here)
      • Nordstrand Frisian
      • Pellworm Frisian
      • Wyk Frisian
  • Extinct East Frisian languages
    • Wangerooge Frisian as documented by H.G. Ehrentraut

I have not fully reconstructed these extinct Frisian languages yet:

  • West Frisian languages
    • Molkwerum Frisian (in the process of reconstruction since 2020)
    • Amelandic Frisian (in the process of reconstruction since 2019)

I haven’t studied these historical Frisian language stages yet:

  • Frisian as immortalised by historical authors/researchers
    • Heligolandic as documented by Theodor Siebs
    • Sagelterland Frisian as documented by J.F. Minssen
    • Frisian as written by the brothers Halbertsma
    • Frisian as written by Gysbert Japicx
  • Middle Frisian
  • Old Frisian
    • Younger Old Frisian (formerly known as Old West Frisian)
    • Elder Old Frisian (formerly known as Old East Frisian)
The sight of the city centre of Leeuwarden, the West Frisian capital, in the winter of 2020-2021.

I have assumed until 2021 for practical purposes that there might be 14 living Frisian languages: 4 in West Frisia, 1 in East Frisia and 9 in North Frisia. This might, however, not be tenable as there might be more living Frisian languages (I am not even counting all of the extinct Frisian languages, I am just trying to get a full picture of the languages that are still alive at this point), but more research needs to be done in order to establish this. For instance, I need to determine how many living languages there really are/were in the Goesharde area and in West Frisia (where some tongues, such as Southwest Corner Frisian, might be barely written and therefore poorly documented on paper).

The above lists give an impression of how I might classify the languages in my mind, but this is not meant as a full and proper overview of the classification of all Frisian languages, which I will only disclose when I have studied all living and deceased Frisian languages; I will have a better understanding of the complete classification of the Frisian language family at that point and my current classification is merely intended to be impressionistic.

Foundation Operation X for languages, cultures and perspectives is the only organisation that intends to preserve all living Frisian languages by means of their active use in the organisation. In other words, we are the only charitable organisation that aims to use all Frisian languages in order to preserve them. The Frisian language family is our current area of expertise, and we intend to cover the totality of all Frisian-speaking territories or regions with our preservation efforts: all of West Frisia, East Frisia and North Frisia. We will not miss a single living Frisian tongue; we won’t leave any single Frisian community out, as we intend to include every single Frisian language community in our campaign. So we are completely inclusive towards all Frisian speakers, no one will be left out. In doing so, we hope our organisation sets a positive example of Frisian multilingualism. Operation X is very ambitious at its core as what we are doing has never been tried before in the history of mankind with regards to the study of the Frisian languages, yet all of our concrete objectives with the entirety of the living Frisian language family will be achieved before the end of the current decade of this century, and our organisation is poised to become the most multilingual Frisian organisation that has ever existed, while we zealously believe this is necessary for the preservation of the total diversity of the Frisian language family; Frisian is diverse and we believe this diversity is worth keeping.

Not only Frisian languages will be studied by our organisation, but Frisian-adjacent (i.e., Frisian-like languages spoken geographically nearby proper Frisian languages), Frisian-related (i.e., a variety of Germanic languages), and languages in a similarly precarious situation as Frisian (i.e., endangered languages or minority languages). We are also particularly interested in the internal diversity of language families around the world, because this may help us compare their situation with that of Frisian; we are always eagerly looking for comparable examples in order to improve upon our own understand of the Frisian linguistic diversity. This is, for instance, one of the reasons why we are profoundly interested in the diversity of Sinitic (i.e., Chinese) languages.

I learned the Sagelterland Frisian of Marron C. Fort, Pyt Kramer and Gretchen Grosser in 2019. I have adopted the same spelling and pronunciation for Sagelterland Frisian as Marron C. Fort. What variant of Sagelterland Frisian does Marron C. Fort write? In his Sagelterland Frisian biblical translations, Fort writes the words ‘foar (for), hachte (height), seeuwends (in the evening), noud (North), buppe (above)’ which may be generally characterised as Ramsloh Frisian. So, it may be concluded that I learned Ramsloh Frisian in 2019 (which I simply called ‘the Sagelterland Frisian that I have learned’ when I published my article on Scharrel Frisian).

14 living Frisian languages is a bit of a conservative estimate of mine (I used this figure in our mission statement as well). Of course, there are more Frisian languages in total when one includes the extinct Frisian languages, but I am mainly interested in the total amount of living Frisian languages. While we are speaking of living languages, I should elaborate a little, for I have this specific practical approach to the study of the Frisian language family: (a) I prioritise the living over the dead languages, (b) the more recently deceased over the long-dead languages and (c) the more recent historical over the more distant historical language stages. Language questions remain that may determine whether there are 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 or 25 living Frisian languages:

  1. The Langenhorn-Ockholm Frisian language question: Are Ockholm Frisian and Langenhorn Frisian separate languages? As far as Ockholm Frisian and Langenhorn Frisian are concerned, I treat them as separate entities and I will publish articles in them separately on our blog. However, the vocabulary and grammar are practically identical save for a few phonetic distinctions (chiefly vowel distinctions); all in all, Ockholm Frisian and Langenhorn Frisian are very similar. While Ockholm Frisian and Langenhorn Frisian belong to Northern Goesharde Frisian, they appear to be mutually intelligible (although this would have to be tested with comparing the spoken languages apart from the written languages). I do nevertheless get the impression (from instance from the usage of the names ‘Hoolmer’ for ‘Ockholm Frisian’ and ‘Hoorninger’ for ‘Langenhorn Frisian’ instead of Northern Goesharde Frisian) that the social situation is somewhat akin to that of West Terschelling Frisian and East Terschelling Frisian where different linguistic identities exist; the Langenhorn Frisian may have had a different identity from the Ockholm Frisians, and the designation ‘Northern Goesharde Frisian’ may be artificial in that the speakers may not feel any such linguistic unity to exist. I have yet to do more research on the identity of the Ockholm Frisians and Langehorn Frisians to confirm my hypothesis that the speakers may feel the two are related, but distinct, and that they prefer to identify themselves with one of each rather than a generic ‘Northern Goesharde Frisian’ category which seems to be an artificial linguistic category that no speakers identify with. Another name for Northern Goesharde Frisian that I came up in my mind may be Langenhorn-Ockholm Frisian (as both Ockholm Frisian and Langenhorn Frisian belong to this category). The situation may, in some ways, be reminiscent of the Afrikaans-Dutch-Flemish mutual intelligibility, Dutch-German mutual intelligibility, Serbo-Croatian mutual intelligibility, Swedish-Danish-Norwegian mutual intelligibility, Icelandic-Faroese mutual intelligibility, etc. Linguistic identity, mutual intelligibility and language evolution should certainly be considerations for determining what kind of entities Ockholm Frisian and Langenhorn Frisian are, but, just as with the East-West Terschelling Frisian question where the East Terschelling Frisians and West Terschelling Frisians consider themselves to be separate in much the same manner as the Serbs and Croats do, I would certainly not be against considering Ockholm Frisian and Langenhorn Frisian to be separate. Either way, I will publish Ockholm Frisian and Langehorn Frisian texts separately, because although they are very similar, they are not totally identical; when I said ‘practically identical,’ I pointed out exceptions already and this means the two entities are not ‘actually identical’ or ‘truly identical’ in the sense they are one and the same. As should be noted from a logical perspective, when two entities are very similar, it doesn’t mean they are the same. Due to the fact that Langenhorn Frisian and Ockholm Frisian aren’t identical, I have had to learn them separately. Minute distinctions take time to learn and they are important for belonging to either one of those two groups.
  2. The East-West Terschelling language question: Are East Terschelling Frisian and West Terschelling Frisian two separate languages? When Terschelling Frisian was included in the database of Glottolog in 2019 as a language, I immediately got comments from people of Terschelling that East Terschelling Frisian and West Terschelling Frisian should be recognised as separate languages; this whole matter reminded me of Serbo-Croatian which I had read about in the past, as Croats and Serbs are often vehemently opposed to whoever considers them to be speaking the same language. I had already known that East Terschelling Frisians and West Terschelling Frisians consider themselves separate entities and they even write East Terschelling Frisian and West Terschelling Frisian differently. There are two separate dictionaries: one for East Terschelling Frisian, one for West Terschelling Frisian. I had learned East Terschelling Frisian in 2018, and I had planned to learn West Terschelling Frisian separately at a later date. I have slowly been compiling materials for learning West Terschelling Frisian. While I am only specialised in East Terschelling Frisian at the moment, West Terschelling Frisian forms a dearth in my knowledge; I should definitely add West Terschelling Frisian to my repertoire at some point, because it is relevant for my work. I did use some West Terschelling Frisian words in my Molkwerum Frisian reconstruction work, which served as a reminder that West Terschelling Frisian should not be excluded and must surely be treated as a relevant Frisian linguistic entity.
  3. The Southwest Corner Frisian-Shire Frisian language question: Are Southwest Corner Frisian and Shire Frisian (Wood-Clay Frisian, Mainland Frisian) separate languages? Southwest Corner Frisian seems to be a language in between the Hindeloopen-Molkwerum Frisian and Terschelling-Shire Frisian categories. It has clearly undergone a separate evolution. It is closer to Shire Frisian than to Hindeloopen-Molkwerum Frisian, probably due to contact with the former. Southwest Corner Frisian may therefore perhaps be characterised as a contact language; as I intend to study Southwest Corner Frisian in depth at some point, investing the contact language hypothesis further will certainly be worthwhile.
  4. The Wood-Clay Frisian language question: Are Wood Frisian and Clay Frisian separate languages? Wood Frisians often proudly proclaim they are Wood Frisians and they say they speak Wood Frisian. They call Wood Frisian a language separate from Clay Frisian. This goes to show that Wood Frisian identity is real. I have generally assumed that Wood Frisians and Clay Frisians speak the same language, but this seems to be another matter that resembles the Serbo-Croatian language question. Identity is an important factor in linguistic self-identification.
  5. The Scharrel-Strücklingen-Ramsloh-Sedelsberg Frisian language question: Are Ramsloh Frisian, Strücklingen Frisian, Scharrel Frisian and possibly Sedelsberg Frisian separate languages? I haven’t asked the speakers of Sagelterland Frisian themselves, but I did notice that Theo Griep and Gretchen Grosser wrote Sagelterland Frisian as they spoke it, demarcating their separate Sagelterland Frisian identities. I do, however, get the impression that there is some sense of unity between the Sagelterland Frisians and that this is not an artificial linguistic unity imposed from the outside. Although I still need to do more research, the linguistic differences between Ramsloh Frisian, Strücklingen Frisian and Scharrel Frisian are slight as far as I understand it.
  6. The Föhr-Amrum Frisian language question: Are Föhr Frisian and Amrum Frisian separate languages? I think it is reasonable to suppose that the Föhr Frisians and Amrum Frisians have separate identities because they live on separate islands, but I would like to investigate this more and pry into their sense of identity. When I publish articles in Föhr-Amrum Frisian, I would certainly publish them separately as Föhr Frisian and Amrum Frisian because they are distinct like Langenhorn Frisian and Ockholm Frisian.
  7. The East-West Föhr Frisian language question: Are East Föhr and West Föhr Frisian separate languages? I really wonder whether speakers of East Föhr and West Föhr consider themselves as speakers of separate languages.
  8. The East-West Mooring Frisian language question: Are East and West Mooring Frisian separate languages? I wonder about the same as with East-West Föhr Frisian: do speakers of East and West Mooring Frisian regard themselves as speakers of different languages?
  9. The East-West Sylt Frisian language question: Are East and West Sylt Frisian separate languages? I wonder about the same thing as with the previous 2 Frisian language questions: do speakers of East and West Sylt Frisian consider themselves to be speakers of different languages?

30 comments

  1. This article really make me happy. 😬 I still remember that your blog has about 1400 followers when I firstly followed your blog. 🤗 This one is a new milestone. From 1400 to 4000, we can see how many efforts you make. This article is not just about a new milestone but your achievements. It is unbelievable for me to know how many languages Frisian contains. 😅 You bring new information to us. This is very valuable because if you don’t leave a record or you don’t tell us now, we may forget these languages forever. So thank you for telling us this. 🌹🌹 It is very meaningful. You saved these languages before they disappeared. In addition, please keep updating your blog, 🤣 I hope you can get more and more followers so that more and more people can know this valuable information. 🧚 Have a nice day~ Keep it up ~

    Liked by 2 people

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