Mission Statement

Author: Dyami Millarson, Last updated: 27 January 2021

We learn the most exotic and fascinating languages of Europe. Our work involves chiefly minority languages. We are currently focused on the Frisian languages spoken in Europe.

There are 14 living Frisian tongues and we intend to study them all:

  1. Shire Frisian (Clay/Wood Frisian)
  2. Aasters and Westers (Terschellinger Fries)
  3. Hielpes (Hindeloopers, Hylpersk)
  4. Eilaunders (Schiermonnikoogs, Skiermûntseagersk)
  5. Sagelterland Frisian (Saterfriesisch, Seeltersk)
  6. Central Goesharde Frisian
  7. Northern Goesharde Frisian
  8. Halligen Frisian
  9. Bökingharde Frisian (Mooring)
  10. Karrharde Frisian
  11. Wiedingharde Frisian
  12. Sylt Frisian (Söl’ring, Sylterfriesisch)
  13. Föhr-Amrung Frisian (Fering/Öömram)
  14. Heligolandic Frisian (Halunder)

It is our life mission to learn the most endangered Frisian tongues ere they die out. We wish to keep the knowledge of these languages alive with our own efforts and we wish to transmit the knowledge of these languages to a new group of young people.

We do language challenges to gain attention for the variety of languages spoken in Europe today. The diversity of languages in Europe is a topic that is not yet frequently talked about in daily life and we wish to change that by studying and talking about these fascinating, exotic languages. We wish their voices to (still) be heard around the world!

When we learn any language, we believe that we are saving it. Articles written in various languages that we have learned frequently appear on our blog. We keep the knowledge of the languages alive this way.

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28 comments

  1. I had heard back when I studied linguistics in college that Frisian is actually the closest relative to English (other than “British English” heh heh). Is that so?

    (And I had no idea there were so many varieties of Frisian!)

    Liked by 4 people

    • Are you saying that Frisian is closer to English than say South African English? Surely “British English” is *the* English.
      How does one determine a “variety” of a language?
      Are all the Englishes spoken on different continents the same English or different varieties?

      Liked by 2 people

    • Excellent question!

      The English-Frisian connection is popular in both the English-speaking and Frisian-speaking worlds.

      Historically speaking, English and Frisian may potentially be the closest languages to each other. However, the situation is more complicated when we look at the modern situation rather than the historical one:

      Since we may generally assume that the members of the same language family are the closest to each other, the answer to this question (if interpreted to be about the modern rather than historical situation) depends on whether one considers Anglic or English to be a language family.

      For instance, one may regard Scots as a separate language belonging to the Anglic/English language family. Of course, Scots is closer to English than English to Frisian. (One should bear in mind that Frisian – at least according to our foundation’s fieldwork – is a language family as well, not a single language.)

      In the modern setting, it might be better to rephrase the question: “What is the closest language family to the Anglic/English one?”

      The answer to that question is straightforward: the Frisian language family.

      Although the concept of an Anglo-Frisian language family has come under fire while being contested by some but not all researchers in recent years (by postulating a North Sea Germanic language family, though this does not by any means necessarily exclude an Anglo-Frisian subgrouping), there is merit to the concept of an Anglo-Frisian language family, to which both the English/Anglic and Frisian language families would belong:

      We are conducting Anglo-Frisian studies at our foundation, because we are studying the English/Anglic and Frisian language families side by side; regardless of what one thinks about the Anglo-Frisian language family, we believe the concept of Anglo-Frisian is useful for the comparison between English/Anglic and Frisian.

      We employ Anglo-Frisian as a comparative concept (to define Anglo-Frisian in a way that is agnostic as to the question whether the Anglo-Frisian language family is an accurate historical classification), because there are striking resemblances as well as fascinating differences between English/Anglic and Frisian; Anglo-Frisian studies are relevant since it is relevant to compare these languages.

      Our foundation’s priority is to focus on the modern situation (e.g., Frisian living languages) rather than the historical situation (e.g., Frisian dead languages). The modern situation has not been sufficiently studied in our view. At some point, we will also come around to study the historical situation in full depth, but as already indicated by our priorities, we wish to first get an accurate grasp of the modern situation before moving on to studying the historical one.

      Liked by 15 people

      • Nicely done, Dyami! It’s a rather tricky question sometimes to determine when something is a different “language” or language family vs. a dialect or creole or pidgin.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Thank you, it usually does help to study how speakers self-identify (i.e., do they regard themselves as a group speaking a distinct language?) and to closely observe their communication behaviours vis-à-vis related groups (i.e., is it comfortable for the related groups to communicate or is it too difficult for comfort?). I observed that groups such as East Terschelling Frisians, Hindeloopen Frisians and Schiermonnikoog Frisians regard themselves as distinct from all other Frisians, they have a very strong sense of identity based on their respective languages and they do not find it comfortable communicating in their languages with other Frisians who usually have trouble following them (and so the sense of discomfort/inconvenience is mutual). Some groups of Frisian-speaking communities are more closely related than others, for sure, but that does not mean they are necessarily speaking identical languages or share identical cultures for that matter. Frisian as a reality on the ground comprises a mosaic of languages and cultures, diversity of Frisian languages and cultures is the reality and any notion of unity is an antithesis of the reality that has existed after speakers of Old Frisian went their separate ways and split into various groups that evolved into communities with identities based around their own language and culture, ultimately derived from Old Frisian and although that is usually a distant memory, Frisian groups generally tend to remember their roots and if forgotten, they usually rediscover those roots through their interactions with other Frisian groups. I would say the Frisian linguistic and cultural landscape looks quite tribal, and this is correlated with the multitude of identities, which is what fascinates us about Frisians. Unfortunately, Frisians have often been studied and analysed one-dimensionally as though they only possess one language and one culture, which entirely misses the point of the actual diversity that is found in all regions that are Frisian-speaking. This reality persuaded us to approach all Frisian linguistic and cultural communities with equal interest and study them with equal zeal. In this way, we hope to highlight the actual situation as opposed to the fiction of unity or homogeneity that may exist in the minds of some analysts. The real situation is way too interesting to miss and we hope to enthuse others about it as well. We feel fortunate that we discovered the diversity of Frisian in our lifetimes and that we got the unique opportunity to study Frisian in all of its diversity and we definitely intend to keep make contrinutions to the preservation of this diversity as our foundation will act as a guardian for the continued active use of all these languages and the continued practice of their associated cultures.

        Liked by 3 people

    • I remember many years ago a feature on the UK children’s TV programme Blue Peter a piece about a visit to the Frisian Islands area by a group of people from East Yorkshire to take part in a dyke vaulting competition. What struck me was the fact that the people from East Yorkshire found they could understand far more than they expected to in the Frisian Islanders’ speech because their own dialect overlapped sufficiently. So Frisian varieties may indeed be close to British English but especially so in the varieties of English spoken along the eastern coast. It might be interesting to study patterns of shared vocabulary in Frisian and north eastern English varieties.

      Like

    • We couldn’t agree more, language is a gateway to wisdom and human connection. Learning various Frisian languages has definitely taught us valuable life lessons that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives and our Frisian studies have also brought us into contact with scores of people with whom we feel a deep spiritual connection thanks to our shared experience of speaking the same minority language. We surely wouldn’t have wanted to miss this unique experience in our lives!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. So, just curious: Is there an actual country or perhaps province of “Frisia” nowadays? My quick Google search indicates that there is indeed a geographical area so indicated but it’s not clear if it’s a sort of independent U.N.-recognized nation or a region that is politically part of another country.

    (And I can’t wait to nonchalantly drop this line into a casual conversation: “As you may know, groups such as East Terschelling Frisians, Hindeloopen Frisians and Schiermonnikoog Frisians regard themselves as distinct from all other Frisians…”) 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great blog. To quote the ethnobotanist Wade Davis, “…language is not just a body of vocabulary or a set of grammatical rules, a language is a flash of the human spirit, its a vehicle through which the soul of each particular culture comes into the material world. Every language is an old growth forest of the mind, a watershed of thought, an ecosystem of spiritual possibilities.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is mind challenging. I am still trying to grasp that the Australian indigenous peoples and their vast family and tribal identies are trying to reclaim their languages too. More than fifty, English now unites them where before even folk only a few miles down the road had a different language. Desert people and ones by the sea were totally different. What an amazing world! Thank you for your studies.
    on the diversity of European language,

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fascinating. I had no idea when I clicked on the title I was going to learn something completely new to me even though the languages are concentrated a few miles away from me, across the English Channel.

    Like

  6. How interesting! Please forgive my ignorance on this subject but being the leader of an online gaming Guild we have a rather diverse group of friends, some of which include friends from the Netherlands & Belgium. I listen to them sometimes on voice comms poking fun at each other, in a friendly way, about the languages they each speak & how their ‘version’ is correct as opposed to someone else’s version. I am going to be very interested to learn if any of them actually use Frisian.

    Like

  7. This site and your work are FASCINATING. I have never learned anything beyond the most basic conversational level of French and Spanish. I have always been amazed by those who pursue and understand the intricacies of other languages. But minority languages. And to preserve them. Many kudos to Operation X. Your talents and abilities contribute vitally to our culture. They also provide someone like me, who is intellectually curious but like everyone else has limited time, something new, truly different, worthwhile, and fun to follow on the net. I know this is a long comment and, for that, I apologize. That said, thank you so much for your efforts. Keep up the good work.

    Like

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