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Linguists consider Frisian to be the language which is most closely related to English. Today, it is spoken primarily in the Netherlands. There are about 300,000 speakers in Friesland and the West Frisian Islands. The dialect spoken in this area is known as West Frisian. There are also about 10,000 speakers of North Frisian in the German province of Schleswig-Holstein. In addition, there are about 2,000 speakers of Saterland Frisian which is spoken in the German municipality of Saterland. Both Saterland Frisian and North Frisian are considered endangered by linguists.

Looking at the family tree for English and Frisian, both languages stem from Proto-Germanic which is divided into three branches: (1) East Germanic (which includes the now extinct Gothic), (2) North Germanic (which is divided into two groups: (a) Icelandic, Norwegian, and Faeroese, and (b) Danish and Swedish), and (3) West Germanic (which includes Dutch, Flemish, Yiddish, German, Afrikaans, Frisian, and English).

Schleswig-Holstein was once known as Angeln which was the homeland of the Angles who crossed the North Sea to Britain beginning by 449 CE. Here they merged with the Celtic-speaking natives of the island, developed a Celtic-Germanic pidgin which then evolved into the creole which became English.

When two groups of people come into close and regular contact, they frequently develop a pidgin language. Since adults do not have the innate ability to acquire language, this pidgin language will have a simplified grammar and vocabulary. Pidgins are always second languages and they are not fully developed languages.

 In the case of the Frisian-Celtic pidgin, the speakers of Old Frisian were men while the speakers of Old Celtic were women. Linguist John McWhorter, in his book Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English, reports:

“It turns out that only about 4 percent of British men’s genetic material is traceable to a migration from across the North Sea. Moreover, essentially none of the British women’s genetic material traces back to such a migration, meaning that the invaders were not couples with children, such that women and young’uns would bulk up the total. Rather, the invaders were just a bunch of guys.”
When men and women are in close contact, one of the common outcomes is a bunch of children. These children, having the innate ability to acquire and create language, listened to the pidgin language of their parents and developed the creole which would become known as Old English.

Just as Modern English and the Modern Frisian dialects are closely related, Old English is closely related to Old Frisian. In fact, Old English is more closely related to Old Frisian than to Old Saxon. Stephen Oppenheimer, in his book The Origins of the British, points out:

“Old English and Old Frisian both changed their treatment of vowels compared with other Low German languages such as Old Saxon.”
In his book The Languages of the World, Kenneth Katzner provides an illustration of Frisian:
“It hat eigenskip, dat de Fryske bydrage ta de Amerikaenske literature tige biskieden is. Der binne einlik mar trije, fjouwer Fryske nammen, dy ‘t yn de Amerikaenske literaire wrâld nei ffoaren komd binne.”
English:
“It stands to reason that the Frisian contribution to American literature is a very modest one. There are really only three or found Frisian names that have come to the fore in the American literary world.”

Originally posted to History for Kossacks on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 08:57 AM PST.

Also republished by Cranky Grammarians.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It seemed "East Frisian" came up frequently (12+ / 0-)

    whenever I browsed the OED, or so I recall. Considering how tiny its geographical range, the language and its dialects have had, I think, an inordinate influence on English.

    Dick Cheney 2/14/10: "I was a big supporter of waterboarding"

    by Bob Love on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 09:21:54 AM PST

  •  Thanks as always, Ojibwa. (16+ / 0-)

    I still recall the PBS series on the English language with Robert MacNeil.  There was a segment with Frieslanders.  

    And others on Faroese, Gullah, and one featuring Moon Unit Zappa and "Valley Girl" speech. That one was close to my heart, having grown up in the Valley (San Fernando, NOT San Gabriel!).

    I'm part of the "bedwetting bunch of website Democrat base people (DKos)." - Rush Limbaugh, 10/16/2012 Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

    by tom 47 on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 09:21:55 AM PST

  •  you said that (10+ / 0-)

    "adults do not have the innate ability to acquire language"

    huh?

  •  The phrase "cup of coffee" (13+ / 0-)

    is identical in English and Frisian.  And pretty damn close in many another European language.  

    For most of the time I worked at UCLA, I never had the slightest bit of trouble telling when the Hungarian guy who ran the total body counter every Thursday suggested to a fellow Hungarian visitor that they go get a cup of coffee.

    Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

    by loggersbrat on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 09:27:29 AM PST

  •  Here in West Michigan a lot of Frisians (20+ / 0-)

    settled in the 1800s since it was a swamp and cheap and they knew how to deal with the problems of farming in such an area.  Including my grandfather who was brought over as an infant along with 3 adult brothers and 2 sisters and other children. It is possible to find Frisian language churches in Grand Rapids, along with a Frisian society. Frisian names commonly end in sma or stra indicating son of. Dad was sma and Ma was stra, so one of my grandparents was born there and 7 of my 8 great grandparents. Other then being the last pagans in Europe, my favorite historical fact about them is they were the first government to recognize the Declaration of Independence after France.  When they chose a Christian religion they opted for Calvinism due to its egalitarian and democratic nature.

    Never promote men who seek after a state-established religion; it is spiritual tyranny--the worst of despotism. It is turnpiking the way to heaven by human law, in order to establish ministerial gates to collect toll. John Leland

    by J Edward on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 09:31:33 AM PST

    •  The decleration of independence is in essence (8+ / 0-)

      ... a direct copy in written words, purpose and philosopical content of the Dutch Declaration of the Low Countries (the nether lands) of 1581.

      So it was only logical that the Dutch (of which Frisians by then where a part) would support the American decleration of independence.

      Card-carrying member of the Illuminati.

      by DarkOmnius on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 09:58:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  More likely direct source (9+ / 0-)

        It is almost the same format as the Petition of Right of 1629 and the preable to the Bill of Rights of 1689. The US Bill of Rights follows it even more closely.

        That is not entirely surprising as, as Englishmen, those who wrote both would have been familiar with the 1689 document. They would also have been influenced by the various radical participants in the English Civil War such as the Levellers one of whose works, the Agreement of the People even has a proposal for two year parliamentary terms - so blame John Wildman for the never-ending Congressional campaigns. I would however certainly agree that Wildman's

        ... in all laws made or to be made, every person may be bound alike; and that no tenure, estate, charter, degree, birth, or place do confer any exemption from the ordinary course of legal proceedings whereunto others are subjected.
        is rather more succinctly put as "all men are created equal".

        We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

        by Lib Dem FoP on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 10:28:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  So the "Numa Numa guy" Gary Brolsma probably (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ojibwa, RiveroftheWest, ebohlman

      … has a contingent of Frisians in his family tree? Cool.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/..._(video)

      Frisian names commonly end in sma or stra indicating son of.

      The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

      by lotlizard on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 12:42:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  either sma or ma works in Frisian (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ojibwa, RiveroftheWest

        The only one I know of that this does not work for is Obama.

        Never promote men who seek after a state-established religion; it is spiritual tyranny--the worst of despotism. It is turnpiking the way to heaven by human law, in order to establish ministerial gates to collect toll. John Leland

        by J Edward on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 02:54:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  So does that mean that former Rep (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ojibwa, lotlizard

        Pete Hoekstra(R-racist ad), who was actually born in the Netherlands, is of Frisian ancestry?

        Unfortunately when smart and educated people get crazy ideas they can come up with plausibly truthy arguments. -- Andrew F Cockburn

        by ebohlman on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 05:07:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I am (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ojibwa, RiveroftheWest, chimene

      apparently--biological mother's maiden name was Elfering which I was told meant "eleventh" in Frisian. That's all I know about them.

      I wonder what their beliefs were before the church got ahold of them, and how many of them were burned at the stake.

  •  Gender (12+ / 0-)

    One aspect of English that has always puzzled me is the lack of gender. In most other languages nouns are female, male or  neutral. In English most every thing is neutral.  Farsian is a bit in between. The nouns are all neutral in modern Farsian, but some times the verbs carry a gender when used with different nouns.

    I am not sure what that means, but it is curious. How did English lose it's genders?

    “We can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all the other possibilities.” - Winston Chuchill

    by se portland on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 09:33:59 AM PST

    •  Blame William the Bastard, er, Conquerer (17+ / 0-)

      Old English had a gender system much like German. But with the Norman invasion and the development of Middle English attempting to blend the two different gender rules just fizzled out. Maybe folks realized it didn't really matter if a boat was a him or a her, at least formally. Though we still call boats and ships "her" informally.

      There are lies, damn lies, and statistics but they all pale in comparison to conservative talking points.

      by ontheleftcoast on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 09:46:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Which makes me wonder... (7+ / 0-)

        We tend to classify certain things as 'feminine,' like ships & boats. Are there any objects that we treat as 'masculine?' I can't think of any.

        •  The only ones I can think of are "Father Time" (7+ / 0-)

          and Death/the Grim Reaper. Ahh, and one more, trees. Big trees in particular get male affectations, "General Sherman", "Methuselah", "Big Ben", and so on.

          There are lies, damn lies, and statistics but they all pale in comparison to conservative talking points.

          by ontheleftcoast on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 11:09:13 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Mother of all battles (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dclawyer06, Ojibwa, RiveroftheWest, NonnyO

          Yeah, I thought about that too. I was going to mention the masculine and feminine usage of words in the English language and was trying to find a masculine example, when my somewhat addled brain stumbled upon 'Mother of all battles.' If anything should be male it is battles. It was not Grendel that was the ultimate adversary, it was Grendel's Mother. Maybe there is nothing there, but it makes me think...

          I know from art history classes that art can be categorized as the earlier Mary influences, the later God the Father, and perhaps the still God-the-Son-Jesus period. So, just posing a question, perhaps English was deeply influence by an earlier period when Mary was the predominate influence on Christian thought, written, art and hence language?

          “We can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all the other possibilities.” - Winston Chuchill

          by se portland on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 01:21:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually, to gain converts... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ojibwa, pimutant, se portland

            ... to the new Xian religion, the early church had to make Mary a bigger deal than what she was originally.  The Celtic peasants (pagans = country folk) were used to worshiping a feminine deity as the supreme being - whether water, earth, grains, animals, etc., these were life-giving or feminine qualities, and they were used to a maiden, mother, crone female trinity.

            The early church made Mary more important than she originally had been in order to gain converts - a kind of "See, we have an important divine female being, too!  Come join us in worshiping her.  Oh, we also have a trinity, but it's father, son, and holy ghost.  We have saints with the names found in your pantheon, too."

            To illiterate peoples, art was the representation of what the church wanted people to believe.  Hence, the over-abundance of Madonna-Child portraits of every kind in every era, and done for church propaganda purposes.  The origins of modern theatre are in pageants produced by the early church for moral lessons and to gain converts.

            My minor studies were in art history, too, and I can't tell you how sick of Madonna-Child paintings I became after endless pictures of same encompassing several hundred years.

            I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

            by NonnyO on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 08:50:11 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Blame Julius Caesar! (9+ / 0-)

        Recent research has shown that Latin was widely understood and written throughout the early Medieval period. Likely because it was a lingua franca in a country with both language and dialect differences. So there was already an influence from latinate language.

        It was really Alfred the Great who established early English as a common and written language and the language of the royal court.  WtB of course reversed that although significantly both Latin and later French were used in international affairs well into the late 18th century. At the time not many French spoke French (ironically it was also around the 18th century that the majority first spoke it) and the nearest to Norman French is spoken in the Channel Islands.  

        You may also be interested to know that the EU has a special program to preserve and promote the usage of minority languages like Frisian and Ladin.  The program is based on the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages. and the right to use them is enshrined in the European Charter of Fundamental Freedoms.

        We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

        by Lib Dem FoP on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 10:52:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Interesting stuff... (5+ / 0-)

          I'm fluent in Latin but have never even heard of Ladin.
          Nice.

        •  Following on dcl06's comment, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest, Ojibwa

          is Ladin the same as Ladino, the Romance-based language of the Sephardic Jews?

          "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

          by sidnora on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 12:51:14 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ladino (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sidnora, RiveroftheWest

            When I was in graduate school, I was called in to help make some tapes with some Ladino speakers (my undergraduate work had been on Romance Philology). It was interesting to hear the initial "f" which has been replaced by "h" in Spanish.

          •  Ladin (Ladin)/Ladino (Italian)/Ladinisch (German) (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ojibwa, sidnora, RiveroftheWest, NonnyO

            Although Ladin is described as a series of dialects in Wikipedia (which has a useful comparison of with other modern European national languages towards the bottom of the page), it is recognized as a "minority language" by the EU. The closest to "classical" Latin is still spoken in the Non Valley in the Italian Pyrenees.

            We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

            by Lib Dem FoP on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 01:46:46 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  So they are not the same! (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ojibwa, RiveroftheWest, NonnyO

              This is fascinating. Now, having looked up the entry for the language I've always called Ladino, I learn that's not its correct name, though it's the only name I've ever heard for it:

              In Israel particularly, and in America, the language is commonly called Ladino (לאדינו) (a derivative of "Latin"), though the people who actually speak the language consider this use incorrect.[2] The language is also called Judeo-Spanish, judeo-espagnol, judeo-español,[3] Sefardi, Djudio, Dzhudezmo, Judezmo, and Spanyol or Español sefardita; Haquitía (from the Arabic ħaka حكى, "tell") refers to the dialect of North Africa, especially Morocco. The dialect of the Oran area of Algeria was called Tetuani, after the Moroccan town Tétouan, since many Orani Jews came from this city. In Hebrew, the language is called Spanyolit.
              According to the Ethnologue, "The name 'Judezmo' is used by Jewish linguists and Turkish Jews and American Jews; 'Judaeo-Spanish' by Romance philologists; 'Ladino' by laymen, especially in Israel; 'Hakitia' by Moroccan Jews; 'Spanyol' by some others."[4]
              The derivation of the name Ladino is complicated. In pre-Expulsion times in the area known today as Spain the word meant literary Castilian as opposed to other dialects, or Romance in general as distinct from Arabic.[5] (The first European language grammar and dictionary, of Castilian, refers to it as ladino or ladina. In the Middle Ages, the word Latin was frequently used to mean simply "language", and in particular the language one understands: a latiner or latimer meant a translator.) Following the expulsion, Jews spoke of "the Ladino" to mean the traditional oral translation of the Bible into archaic Castilian. By extension it came to mean that style of Castilian generally, in the same way that (among Kurdish Jews) Targum has come to mean Judaeo-Aramaic and (among Jews of Arabic-speaking background) sharħ has come to mean Judaeo-Arabic.
              (Emphasis mine)

              "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

              by sidnora on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 04:11:57 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  The Normans were of Norse descent... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ojibwa

        The word is a contraction of Northman or Northmen.

        Vikings were given tribute money not to plunder..., so they came back every year for more money.  In time, they came and some stayed..., and the area became known as Normandy.  The Vikings learned the French language and imported a few Viking/Norse words.

        Rollo the Viking is an ancestor of William the Bastard/Conqueror (depending on which view one takes of William).

        William defeated a Viking who claimed the kingship of England... and since William was at least part Viking himself, became the king of England.

        However one looks at it, there is a huge swath of land in the midlands and coast of England that bears names with Norse origins, and the names of the people are often Norse in origin, especially those with patronymic name origins.

        I took two years of Norwegian in the early '80s (toward being able to understand some of the genealogy records from all three Scandinavian countries), but I don't remember anything about words being feminine or masculine.

        I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

        by NonnyO on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 08:34:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  and why do they call it "gender"? (6+ / 0-)

      strange.

      One of the good things about English!

      An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

      by mightymouse on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 09:55:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No sex please, we're British (11+ / 0-)

      As well as being a language that goes out and mugs other languages for words, spoken English is fairly "degenerate" or lazy which I suspect accounts for the loss of gender specific words. It is after all a lot easier to use "the" rather than having to decide whether it should be "le" or "la" or even if you can get away with "l' " when the word starts with a vowel sound (l'hôpital for example)

      There are however gender differences in noun endings which indicate the sex referred to (it always strikes me as funny that the French noun for a moustache is feminine). Thus the female of "Mister" is "Mistress" even though nowadays people incorrectly pronounce the abbreviation "Mrs" as "misses", the use of "Mistress Smith" or whatever surname still lingers in parts of Scotland.  There are other sex-based variants of course like "sorority" and "fraternity".

      There's a hang-over in some things like the attribution of a sex to inanimate objects so a car or ship is often a "she" rather than an "it".  

      Countries can either be a "motherland" or "fatherland" and there is an interesting usage here in other languages where the country's gender has tended to indicate if the governments have historically been authoritarian or the countries were established relatively recently. Thus Germany and Spain are referred to as "fatherlands" (although significantly perhaps Hitler referred to his native Austria as his motherland.) On the other hand it is la France.

      We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

      by Lib Dem FoP on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 10:02:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The lose of gender (11+ / 0-)

      and the loss of declensions in English have led to many discussions among linguists. It may be an indication that English went through a pidgin to creole phase at some time which simplified its grammar. I may try to expand on this in a future essay.

      •  More on gender (11+ / 0-)

        The linguist John McWhorter writes:

        “English’s simplicity is, in terms of explanation rather than mere documentation, weird. It is evidence of a blind-siding by adults too old to just pick up English thoroughly the way children of immigrants do. The Scandinavian Vikings left more than a bunch of words in English. They also made it an easier language.”
        “The Viking impact, stripping English of gender and freeing us of attending to so much else that other Germanic speakers genuflect to in every conversation, made it harder for us to master other European languages.”
  •  Pennsylvania Dutch is classified as... (11+ / 0-)

    a dialect of West German. According to my mother, who was raised Amish, it has a lot of Swedish words and some English. That sounds more like a creole to me. Maybe, being an unwritten language, it hasn't been studied enough. Or maybe, being uneducated in linguistics, I just don't know enough about how they classify these things.

    One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain -Bob Marley

    by Darwinian Detritus on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 09:49:13 AM PST

    •  one of the universities in Central Pennsylvania (8+ / 0-)

      Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility

      by terrypinder on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 10:01:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The word Dutch itself is actually an abomination (6+ / 0-)

      The word doesn't make sense. Dutch people talk of nederlands and nederlandse taal (dutch language). Dutch however sounds much more like "deutch" which means german (germany means deutchland after all).

      Dutch is a "germanic" language, however it is different enough that a dutch person cannot communicate with a german and vice versa.

      Card-carrying member of the Illuminati.

      by DarkOmnius on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 10:04:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  also there apparently are a small (6+ / 0-)

      Swiss-derived subgroup of Amish, but most are German.

      Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility

      by terrypinder on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 10:05:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  They were/are not Dutch, in any case (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ojibwa

      They are/were Deutsch = German.

      If you do genealogy research for the area, pre-1910 census data indicates they were from various German locations if the enumerator didn't just write German in the location of birth for the person or her/his parents.  Prussia, Bavaria, sometimes Alsace or Lorraine are listed, or Switzerland, etc.

      Further up in NY state I have Alsatian ancestors and census data lists them as being from Alsace (part of France by then); a web site online has the same surname as one of my ancestors and they were from Alsace and relocated to Pennsylvania Deutsch country.  The name is Germanic, but the country listed on immigration papers for my ancestor is France, and US census data has him and two other branches for his wife's ancestors from Alsace.  The church records for that NY congregation where my ancestors lived were kept in an old Germanic language, and if my research is correct, it's a dialect of Alemannic German (check out the map after you enlarge it to see where the different dialects are located).

      Alsace & Lorraine have gone back and forth between France and Germany for centuries, depending on which one won what war.  The people are bilingual.  If you ever hear them speak in English, you'll never forget the accent because it is a combination of French and German.  It's most unusual and very charming.  The second time I heard it I asked the woman point-blank: "Are you from Alsace-Lorraine?"  She looked at me, astonished, and asked "How did you know?"  "I heard the accent only once before, that person was also from Alsace-Lorraine, and I've never forgotten the accent."

      The Pennsylvania Deutsch let the mispronunciation stand after WWI & WWII because they didn't want to be associated with being German after those two wars, nor suffer the prejudice in their own communities.

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 09:26:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My husband is a native (12+ / 0-)

    Frisian speaker - it was his first language. He didn't learn Dutch until he was six and in school.

    I've sat in the middle of conversations with my Frisian relatives, unable to contribute, but able to pick up on the gist of the conversation because it is so close to English. My kids have the same experience.

    We visited Friesland when the kids were 8 and 10, and they were able to pick up quite a bit. Of course kids are masters at communicating without language, so they got by fine regardless.

    Having just one native speaker in the family made it difficult to teach the kids here at home. I have a friend who attempted to teach her children Dutch on her own, but the kids lost it all as soon as they started school. We have a couple of books, a Frisian/English dictionary, and some language tapes, so maybe one day.

    Interesting diary. Love learning more about the history of language. Thanks Ojibwa.

    •  Interesting about (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ojibwa, Elizaveta, mimi, RiveroftheWest, NonnyO

      the kids losing it after starting school. My neighbor is of Latvian heritage and a fluent Latvian speaker (her husband is neither), and she has put a lot of effort into teaching her daughter Latvian, including sending her to Latvian summer camp and (I think) some sort of structured preschool program. She's just starting school now, and it'll be interesting to see how much of it sticks.

      I have another friend who's Dutch-born, who also tried to make sure her now-adult daughter grew up speaking Dutch, but I think she ended up with pretty much the level of fluency that I have from growing up with English-speaking parents who spoke Yiddish when they didn't want us to understand, i.e., I understand much better than I can speak, and definitely am not fluent.

      "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

      by sidnora on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 01:00:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  from my experience the child will not (5+ / 0-)

        be fluent in Latvian, if the mother alone is a Latvian speaker, but her husband is not and the language spoken between the parents is not Latvian. The mother can try to keep the Latvian alive for her child, but it's pretty darn hard to do so for the child to pick up and use it enough if everybody around the child is speaking English and the mother too as soon as she speaks English to all other friends and family members.

        For example, if the Latvian mother had a Latvian speaking grandmother in the house, who doesn't speak a lot of English, the chances are that the child (grandchild) will learn and retain much more Latvian, as it has to speak at least to one family member in Latvian. Most children of German-American parents, don't speak much German, if the father doesn't and the mother speaks English in the house with her husband. The opposite is true, if both parents speak German or if grandparents are in the household.  

        Just saying. I witnessed that quite often.

        •  I believe you. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ojibwa, NonnyO, mimi

          In fact I think the daughter will end up with even less Latvian than I have Yiddish. The grandparents live far away, as opposed to mine, who lived nearby, if not in the same house, and three out of four used Yiddish as their first language.

          "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

          by sidnora on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 08:56:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Can you imagine that as an average German (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ojibwa, sidnora

            growing up in the fifties to end of the sixties in Germany, I never learned about the Yiddish language. I had to come to the US to learn and hear it for the first time ... and was speechless as it is so close in many words to German.  Gave me a reminder of how little I was able to learn in my German highschool years. Very embarrassing, too.

  •  my dad was born and raised in (11+ / 0-)

    the US, his parents had immigrated from the province of Groningen, and their particular at-home language was a similar region-specific dialect of Dutch and low German/low Saxon. Dad said his father had a lot of funny stories about dialect confusion with people from the next provinces over.

    Dad retained the language pretty well into his late life, but he didn't know how to read or write it. When he was in his 70s, he had chance to go over and meet some distant relatives, and do a little sight seeing--so I got him a English/Dutch dictionary and travelers phrase book. He was pretty adept at picking up basic reading by looking up words he knew to see how they were spelled. It was the "dialect" idiosyncrasies that would set him off.

    One I remember is the phrase for "what time is it" was "hoe laat is het" according to the phrase book. Dad insisted that taht didn't make sense,  the proper question was "wat tijd is het".   :)  (He got along pretty well with his old country cousins, by the way).

    "If you are sure you understand everything that is going on around you, you are hopelessly confused." Walter Mondale

    by klompendanser on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 10:49:20 AM PST

  •  Theodore Storm, Rider of the White Horse (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kaliope, greengemini, Ojibwa, Kit RMP, sidnora

    I would suggest this interesting and informative little book as an introduction to life in Frisia from a literary standpoint.  While not written in Frisian (it was written in High German), it's author was from the region and sets the work in his native land.  See here for more:  https://blogs.nd.edu/...

    To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

    by dizzydean on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 11:16:04 AM PST

  •  Great one (6+ / 0-)

    I speak German, and I suppose if I'd spent another week or two in Holland, I would have been pretty proficient with that, as well.  

    I knew a guy in Germany who thought it was pretty cute that English was a lower form of German.

    Streichholzschächtelchen

    by otto on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 11:30:54 AM PST

  •  As both an English and German speaker, (5+ / 0-)

    who also knows a tiny little bit of Dutch, I could pretty much make out the quote from Katzner. When I scrolled down to read the English translation, I was pleasantly surprised at how well I did.

    Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

    by commonmass on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 12:09:45 PM PST

  •  Thank you. (6+ / 0-)

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 12:29:26 PM PST

  •  Hm, I dunno. The problem with any creolization (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, RiveroftheWest

    account of the structure of English is that Dutch and the Lower Saxon dialects of Northern Germany (and, I presume, indeed also Frisian - although I don't know that for a fact) share many of the same features of English that the creolization account is supposed to explain: in particular, the loss of much morphology (above all, of non-pronominal case) and the much more rigid word order. If these features are the result of creolization, you wouldn't expect them to occur in those other West Germanic languages, where there is no historic scenario for creolization.

    "I understand, Mr. Spock. The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity."

    by brainwave on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 01:10:01 PM PST

  •  A point of contention if you may.... (0+ / 0-)

    I have not read McWhorter's book, but in reading Melvyn Bragg, even Bill Bryson, and my own research I see no evidence of a creole style language between the Friesians, Angles, Saxons and the British.  The Celtic language , what we now call Welsh and technically Brythonic, was obliterated by the invaders.  There is hardly a single British place name in England, the few instances I can think of include Elmet, a small area of Yorkshire which was a short lived British Kingdom in the mid 500's and of course Cumbria.  These are in areas of late or no Saxon domination.  Go up to Scotland and you see plentiful British names like Strathclyde, Abercorn.  Even the town of Dumfries is a British name meaning camp of the Friesians.  (The invaders were initially hired as mercenaries by the British after the Romans left to fight off the Picts and Irish.)

    The Anglo Saxons enslaved the British.  I can't see them adopting any part of their language even from wives.

    Finding no DNA in English women common with German women is hard to believe.  I have to think the Angles in particular when they turned to farming in East Anglia would have brought families with them.  We are being asked to believe that word got around in Germany that British women were available.  Maybe that was the reason for the migration, nothing to do with the quality of the farmland.

    •  Movement (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ojibwa, RiveroftheWest, NonnyO

      The ability of at least a few to migrate long distances in pre-history is grossly misunderstood by most. There was, for example, a culture known as the "Beaker people" who spread over the same sort of area of the Angles in England and the closer parts of mainland Europe.

      The classic example is from a burial dated to the period of transition between the use of stone tools and metalworking. It was a high status grave and is thought to be of one of the first to work metals, thereby giving them the high status. Analysis of his teeth showed he grew up somewhere around the Pyrenees (its those b... latin speakers again!), moved to the very west of England and then further inland.

      Tin (to be mixed with copper to form bronze) was almost certainly traded with countries from Cornwall in the very south-west of England to the Mediterranean in antiquity. One of Julius Caesar's targets and causes of the invasion were those tin (and gold) mines.

      We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

      by Lib Dem FoP on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 02:03:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  North Frisian Islands -Schleswig Holstein my home (6+ / 0-)

    during the first 14 years of my life during the summer vacation.

    Loved the landscape and especially the Halligen. I would still retire on one of these...

    Halligen - dai6369-2

    hallig-hooge-b56381f5-f053-4ac7-af9b-e98e5b6965c8

    Under water: I love those storms when everything that surrounds you is water:
    Land_unter - Hallig

    I read once lots of men from the North Friesland isles immigrated to NYC. I don't know what they missed back at home, because they had some nice looking women in traditional clothing:

    Friesentracht

    ... and they made an excellent "Friesentorte"... at least those should have made an impact on the Americans.

    friesentorte

    And the wind is always blowing and the air smells beautiful and salty. Love North Friesland, including the sheep in the "Marschland":
    P1000540b-Schafe
    which can withstand even the most dangerous storms on the Halligen:
    16411330

    With all that... who cares for the language? :) Sorry for running off-topic and distracting you with my memories.

    •  Gorgeous photos! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mimi, Ojibwa, NonnyO

      My husband's family also spent some summer holidays in the islands - and the family farm was on an island near Grou. It's a beautiful place. Windy, but beautiful.

    •  And don't forget the Friesian horses (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mimi, Ojibwa

      I fell in love with Friesian horses because of the movie Ladyhawke.  Magnificent horse!

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 09:53:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  WOW! the chest jewelry on the "traditional" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ojibwa

      costume lady -- just SCREAMS Viking period at me! none of the rest is particularly anything, but the two big ovals at the top corners, with all kinds of stuff swagged across between them, that's classic Viking period, and also Finnish, display pattern!

      "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

      by chimene on Sun Jan 12, 2014 at 12:03:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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