Fries – a language for itself! Posted by Sten on Nov 2, 2015 in Culture, Dutch Language
Fryslân – it will probably not tell you a lot. It is a word not from the Dutch, but the Frysian language, het Fries. Fryslân is the name of the Dutch province in which Fries is spoken: Friesland. Now, yes, there are many different dialects, and versions of Fries. But in this post, I mean Westerlauers Fries, or Standaardfries when I mention Fries. This is the officially recognized language in Fryslân.
Friesland is bordered by Groningen, Drenthe, Overijssel, Flevoland, and Noord-Holland. The Afsluitdijk is also connected to Friesland, in the town Zurich. Furthermore, all Dutch islands, apart from Texel, lie in Friesland: Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland, and Schiermonninkoog.
The language Fries is so widely spoken and important in the province, that it is even recognized as an official language, next to Dutch. The official name of the province was also changed in 1997 from Friesland to Fryslân. In the rest of the Netherlands, it is still just called Friesland, also in written form. On official documents, however, it should now read Fryslân instead!
Thus, the Netherlands has also recognized Fries as an official language, a so-called autochtone minderheidstaal (native minority language). Fries is therefore also protected by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.
Here is a fragment of Fries:
Very different than Dutch! For me, as a native speaker, it is pretty much impossible to understand, just like some well-spoken dialects from other regions in the Netherlands.
Fries is spoken in the blue part of Friesland in the graphic below. As you can see, dialects of Frysian are also spoken on the islands Schiermonninkoog and Terschelling. Fries is spoken by about 480.000 people in Friesland.
What is nice as well: if you move to Friesland, which around 10.000 people a year do, they receive a welcome package. It contains a guide to the Frisian language, some motivational stuff why you should choose a multilingual life!
Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.