Frisian is a group of West Germanic languages spoken in Germany and the Netherlands.
There are three main varieties of Frisian: West Frisian
which is spoken by about 450,000 people in the Netherlands;
North Frisian a collection of nine different
dialects spoken in Schleswig-Holstein (Germany) by about 8,000 people, and
Sater Frisian with about 2,000 speakers in the German
state of Lower Saxony.
Frisian is closely related to English with up to
80% of lexical similarity.
North Frisian (Frasch / Fresk / Freesk / Friisk)
North Frisian is spoken in Schleswig-Holstein in the rural district of
North Frisia (Nordfriesland). The language area comprises part of
the mainland, the islands of Sylt, Föhr, Amrum and Heligoland, and the
small islands of the Halligen archipelago.
Though North Frisian has no official status in Germany, it is occasionally
used at local council meetings, etc. A few villages have Frisian road signs
and bilingual place names are allowed. Frisian house names are popular,
particularly on the islands where Frisian is spoken. The language is taught
for a couple of hours a week in schools and there are a number of Frisian
courses for adults throughout the region. There are regular, short broadcasts
in Frisian on the radio, occasional Frisian articles in the German newspapers,
and some Frisian literature, theatre and choirs.
There are a number of different local names for North Frisian: Noordfreesk
(Wiedingharde), Nordfrasch (Mooring/Böökingharde), Nordfriisk
(Sylt), Nuurdfresk (Föhr) and Nuurdfriisk (Helgoland).
Pronunciation of North Frisian
s is always pronounced [s] in word initial position
i is pronounced [ə] when unstressed
g is pronounced [ç] between vowels
r is pronounced [x] before p, t, k, and is silent after
[ɛ:] and before s. pronounced [r] elsewhere
Mooring & Föhringer
s pronounced [z] between vowels
g is pronounced [w] or [j] or is dropped between vowels
Sater Frisian is spoken in the three villages of Ramsloh, Scharrel and
Strücklingen in the Community of the Saterland in the Northwest corner of
the Lower Saxon County of Cloppenburg. The language is taught to a limited
extent in some kindergartens and primary schools; articles appear regularly
in Cloppenburg newspapers, and there are some theatrical performances in the
West Frisian is spoken in the Dutch province of Fryslan/Friesland, and
also in a number of border villages in the neighboring province of Groningen.
The language can be used in dealings with public bodies, and is taught or used
as a medium of instruction in most schools. There are regular radio and
television broadcasts in Frisian, and occasional Frisian articles in the
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another
in a spirit of brotherhood. (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Information about pronunciation and sample texts provided by
François Paes, Pyt Kramer, Reinhard Hahn and the NordFriisk Instituut.