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A BRIEF HISTORY OF FRISIANS

Tacitus claims:
o Roman general Drusus crossed lower Rhine in 12 B.C., in order to
find the mouth of the Ems
o he met a tribe named Frisii
o he subjugated them without trouble
o for next 300 years Frisii was under Roman Empire
There is a possibility that the early Frisii may have been a different
group (ethnically and linguistically) than the later Frisians
o designation of the words Friisi and Frisian are same
o Frisian refers to a Germanic subgroup
o Friisi may have been a non-Germanic group who later merged with
Germanic elements and lend their name to the newly formed
population
The etymology of the name:
o unclear
o may be Germanic roots with reconstructed meanings: friends, free
men, edge dwellers and curly haired ones
o maybe non-Germanic
Their geographic heartland was: North Sea coast (from Alkmaar to the
mouth of Ems)
They lived almost exclusively on natural or artificial mounds of earth
(terpen) which protected them from frequent floodings
Their area was crisscrossed by waterways and lakes and was less
inhabited than inlands
Frisians were herders rather than formers, farming was very hard in their
marshy soil


The history of Frisii under Roman empire is sparse and clear
o invasion of Drusus
o Frisii supplied provisions, even soldiers to Roman army
o Frisii was a part of Roman garrisoning of Britain
o A.D. 28 A Frisian revolt, for unfair high taxes
o Brief Frisian independence
o 47 Roman general Corbula subjugated them
There was a silence for next 300 years which masked a lot of important
events
The gap (silence) in the historical record for the next three centuries
after their first mention in Roman records has since Robinsons book been
matched by a gap in the archeological record.

In 5th century Anglo-Saxon invasions of England began


Anglo-Saxon had to cross Frisian territory and undoubtedly some
intermixture occurred by some Anglo-Saxons staying on the mainland
while some Frisian participating the invasions
Departures of the Angles and Saxons let Frisians to expand, they
occupied the coastal area all the way to the mouth of the Weser

FRISIANS UNDER FRANKISH KINGDOM

tension with the Franks like many other continental Germanic groups
conflict essentially started in 7th century
attempts of Frisia Magna in the face of Frankish pressure from south
famous figure of resistance: Redbad/Radbod
689 Redbod defeated by Merovingian Pippin at Dorestad
Redbod recovered some land
719 Redbod defeated again Charles Martel and died same year
In next decades Frisians gradually annexed to Frankish empire
Charles Martel conquered all of the Friesland up to Lauwers
In 785 during Saxon wars Charlamagne pushed imperial boundaries
including eastern Frisian territories
With Frankish domination also came gradual Christianization
Willibrord started preaching the Gospel in 690
All missionary activities stopped under Redbads reign but they were
renewd soon afterwards
Christianization was resumed by Willehad, Liudger and Boniface
(martyred at Dokkum in 754) and others
By the beginning of the 9th century Christianization of Friesland was
effectively complete

From beginning of Frankish domination 3 parts of formerly independent


Frisian territories can be given:
o West Friesland: northern part of modern province of North Holland
o Middlle Friesland: present day province of Friesland + coastal
present-day Groningen to the mouth of Ems
o East Friesland:coast between Ems and Wesser
Friesland was peripheral to Frankish (later Holy Roman) Empire, hence
received less control and less protection
Protecting Friesland against vikings was so hard that the northern
modern Holland and Dorestad area was given Dane Rorik, the same area
was later given to Dane Godfred under same conditions
Frankish counts of Holland grew in power and influence

they asserted claim onto West Friesland, which fell to them in 1289

there are still some language phenomena in North Holland


that attest to an earlier Frisian-speaking population there

(a number of syntactic parallels between Frisian and WestFrisian: the order of verbs in the verb cluster, the
existence of two infinitives) Evidence of an underlying
Frisian substrate

Middle and East Friesland enjoyed a unheard degree of an autonomy


under Holy Roman empire, even with a degree of pan-Frisian unity
Their independence was shaky though, they gradually splintered and
retreated

German East Friesland


o given to Low German speaking counts of Cirksema
o aside from a few North Frisian dialects, Frisian language is
represented in Germany today only in the small are called Saterland
Northern areas of the province Gronningen also started using Low
German
heartland of Frisia fell under the counts of Hollands (as the present
status as a province of Netherland indicates)
o Frisian language manages to assert itself better in Holland
o still, under pressure of standard language Dutch
o the continuing health of Frisian is thus not good

OLD FRISIAN TEXTS

There are well over 1300 texts


Most of the important ones are legal documents
Frisian names and words in Latin texts in a few runic inscriptions
NOTE the late date of Old Frisian texts (middle 13th C)
o oldest surviving connected Frisian texts date from the latter half of
the 13th century
Old Frisian is contemporaneous with the middle period of other Germ.
lang.
There must have been earlier texts and texts other than law but these
were lost (most probably in the Viking incursions)
Scholars divided OF texts into 25 categories
o most of these include just one item
o the last wastebasket category contains 1300 late Frisian documents,
letters, chronicles,etc.

Of remaining 24 items only 3 is found in unique manuscripts


o Basel Confessional Oaths (ca. 1445)
o Thet Freske Riim (17th century copy of a late 15th century poem
chronicling the legendary origin of Frisians and their ancient privileges)
o Sneek Legal and Administrative Statues (1490 1517)

The remaining were duplicated in one or another of 17 manuscripts


Of these seventeen manuscript
o oldest: Frist Brokmer Manuscript (compiled after 1276)
o latest: Codex Furmerius (compiled around 1600)
most of these manuscripts are collections of laws, privileges and statues
of the whole or some parts of Friesland

Important points:
(1)
o with their volume and explicitness, these texts far surpass the legal
texts of any other old Germanic language
INTERPRETATION OF THE VARIATION INSIDE OF: whether this variation [inside
OF] should be considered as mainly geographically determined, that is, as
pointing to distinct OF dialects from different regions, or whether it could be
interpreted chronologically, that is as reflecting languages from from different
periods. The latter position is advocated by Sjlin (1966, 1984) who makes a
chronologically distinction between classical, post-classical, and charter OF.
This distinction is based mainly criteria involving content and style. Hoffmann
(1971b) and Meijering (1990) argue that Sjlins thesis is no reason for giving
up the traditional geographic distinction between OWF and OEF, since this
relies on phonological, morphological and lexical criteria. They both
acknowledge the merits od Sjlins proposals, and make clear that both
divisions could be used as they are in fact compatible, being based on different
criteria (12)
He [Sjlin] proposes to replace the distinction between Old East Frisian and Old
West Frisian with chronological division it is in the spirit of his [Sjlins] work
and others, to consider 1400 as such As Sjlin makes clear his chronological
classification applies to OF as it has come down to us as a set of written texts,
and is not intended for OF as a spoken language the distinction between
Classical and Post-Classical OF does not necessarily reflect a chronological
development in the language itself. (28)
de Haan, Studies in West Frisian Grammar

(2)
o despite the relative late date, texts reveal a singularly Germanic
point of view (about justice, specifically emphasis on monetary
pensation rather than corporal punishment of the offender)


Does Frisian texts represent dialect differentiation?
they show great difference in phonology and morphology which
corresponds to the putative eastern or western origins of texts
the (amazingly uniform) eastern texts are almost always older than the
western texts

o eastern texts: 1275 1475


o western texts: 1475 1600

Note the relabeling of Old East Frisian into Classical Old Frisian and Old
West Frisian into Post-Classical Old Frisian. What is the assumption of
such labelling with respect to the cause of the linguistic differences
between West and East Frisian?

SOME ASPECTS OF OLD FRISIAN GRAMMAR

The letter k
The letter c maybe used as [k] except before vowels i and e, OF often
uses k especaially requiring it before i and e
marks (dat. pl.) can be written as mercum and merkum
order can only be written as ktha

Palatalization
OF shows palatalization (like OEs West Saxon dialect)
o where phoneme /k/ and /g/ lead to allophones [] and [j]
o phonemicization: than these allophones [] and [j] become
phonemes
/k/ is palatalized to sound like [ts], [t]
o initially before i and e
o medially before i and j
o the resulting sound may be symbolized by symbols including ts, sz,
and so on
tsyurka, szurka, tszurka church COMPARE OS. kirika
bretze break COMPARE OS. bruki
/g/ has a more complicated pattern like it was in OE
/g/ represents a stop
o after a nasal
o when doubled
And only this hard /g/ stop is palatalized to become an affricate before i
and j
o the resulting sound is represented often by ds
lie OF: lidsja / OS: liggian

Note the palatalization of /k/ before i or e. But note ktha


order), earlier ktha. Why dont we find [ts] or [] here? And
similarly, the form gelden golden why not [j] or [gj] here (unlike
the verb jelda/gelda yield, pay for which must have had [j] or
[gj])?
Three things should be noted:
(1) ketha is affected by i-umlaut (ktha to announce from *kunjan)
(2) gelden also shows i-umlaut (gelden golden from *guldin)
(3) Chronology of palatalization:
a. after fronting of noth long and short a to because
palatalizaton takes place before and after these front vowels
b. before monophthongization of *ai
c. before i-mutation or at least before the unrounding of imutation products to e, because no palatalized products are
found before mutated vowels: kening king not *tsening
<*kuningaz

OF uses palatal [] for Proto-Germanic geminate /gg/


b and d like g and k may become affricates, usually spelled as ds and dz
and so forth
lidsja lie COMPARE OS: liggian
g frequently alternates with j
o before e
o word-initial
jelda OR gelda pay for
As in other dialects OF has
o v medially
o f elsewhere
hava possesion with [v]
feder theft with [f]


the letter sequence th is pronounced
o [] medially: ther second with []
o [] elsewhere: thiuvethe theft with []

Note the by now familiar voiced allophones of the fricatives /f/, /s/
and //

Same as OE
Note two allophones /h/
o [h] before vowels
o [x] before elsewhere
hi like English he
nacht like German Nacht

Fronting of WGmc (< PGmc 1)


RECALL:
OE
1 is the reflex of Proto-Germanic (1), which first became , in
all the surviving Germanic languages
This became before nasals in OFris and OE, but elsewhere
(though its written <> in OFris).
So Proto-Gmc ltan > ltan > OE ltan let, OFris lta.
So OF have the Pro-Germ. as which is written as <> regularly in OF

OF
OHG
advise

were

rda

rtan

wron

wrun

(Ingvaeonic) Nasalization and Rounding of West Germanic Long


and Short a Before Nasal
Long and short a, when followed by a nasal acquired a nasal timbre
[51(1)] (as in French blanc), and were eventually rounded to [9(1)].
Both older (from ,) and short a go to and o
The words containing a that were affected are limited in number

Words containing short a that were affected are far greater in number

Ingvaeonic n-deletion

like OS and OE
Before a nasal followed by a voiceless fricative (i.e., /f/, //, /s/, //), the
preceding short vowel was nasalized (as, e.g., in French vin wine).
Afterwards, the nasal disappeared with compensatory lengthening of the
preceding vowel.
OF shows ingvaeonic n-deletion before fricatives and corresponding
vowel lengthening before f, and s

OF
Goth.
five
ff
fimf
us
s
unsis
know
kth
kuns
n

The Reflexes of Proto-Germanic diphthongs


The reflexes of older ai and au in OF are partly like OE and partly
different
Gmc *au monophthongizes without exception to OF . On the other
hand, Gmc *ai has monophthongization reflexes in OF spelled <a> and
<e>. The question why in some words *ai developed to and in other
words to (probably [ae:]) remains problematic and, in the end,
unanswered
/ai/

RECALL: In OE, the that is the reflex of Proto-Germanic ai, when iumlauted, shows up as this is 2.
In OF, this umlauted reflex of Proto-Germanic ai shows up as ,
indistinguishable in writing from the non-umlauted form :

OE
Goth.
OF
heal
hailjan
hlan
hla
any
nig
ainnich
divide
dlan
dailjan
dla
teach
lran
laisjan
lra
RECALL: In all cases of OE original ai
In OF original ai sometimes and sometimes
Bremmer (2009: 27) agrees with this variation: <a> spellings represent
, while the <e> spellings probably represent (as for 1, see previous
point)
We dont know what determines their variation
Campbell (1959: 52) states that the normal development of ProtoGermanic ai is to in OF which is written as and this is echoed by
Bremmer (2009: 44), so the <a> spellings are the puzzling ones
<e> spellings
<a> spellings
bn bone (OE bn)
ga own, have to (OE gan)
brd
broad
(OE thum son-in-law (OE um)
brd)
fch outlawed (OE fh)
re honour (OE r)
gd lack (OE gd)
hl whole (OE hl)
lr teaching (OE lr)
hlich
holy
(OE rp rope (OE rp)
hlig)
tker
brother-in-law
(OE
stn stone (OE stn) tcor)
There is a small number of words that show variation between <e> and
<a> (Bremmer)
/au/
The reflex of Proto-Germanic /au/ is /a/ in OE but in OF

OF
OE
eye
ge
age
also
k
ac
tree
bm
bam
bread
brd
brad
purchase
kp
cap with []
leaf
lf
laf
red
rd
rad

Fronting of WGmc *a > PFris *ae


Short a was fronted (or raised) to (e) /2e/ in both closed and open
syllables, also when followed by a back vowel.
Instances where *a was not fronted:
o before nasals in accented syllables, where a had become o
o in the sequence (-)warC-:
swart black
warm warm
o before h(C),:
achta eight
nacht night
o before lC
ald old
kald cold
o in some unaccented words
was (nas) was (was not)

Umlaut
OF shows umlaut
The word gold gold shows the lowering uo by a-umlaut
o however, there is no alternating form showing earlier u spelling
o instead we have, gelden golden from older *guldin
i-umlaut:
o ue (see gelden *guldin)
o ae
o remaining short back vowel o cant appear before i-umlaut factors
bed bed
from *badi
bikma
compare OS kmian
complain
grne green
*grni
hra hear
*hrja compare Goth.
hausjan
u/w-umlaut:
o like OE, OF has a kind of u/w-umlaut
o like OE, its occurrence is very restricted
o iiu before g+u OR w+k and w+ng

Breaking
Like OE, OF shows breaking

When short e or i occurred before the velar consonant clusters / /, /s/


and /t/, a back glide developed. The outcome is a rising diphthong,
usually written <iu>, alongside <io>.
o I and e iu before ch(t) or h(t)
riuht law COMPARE OE reht
tsyurka church COMPARE OS kirika

Sharpening
Like OS and OE
OF shows no sharpening
true OF: triwe /Goth: triggws

hell OF: hille / OS: hellia


acre OF: ekker / Goth.: akrs

Like ON
OF shows a loss of n in all endings

The cluster ngw lost its w. This apparently happened after breaking
siunga sing

OS shows rhotacism
Like all dialects except Gothic
more OS: mrra / Goth: maize

Gemination
OF shows gemination
Conditions are no longer clear since conditioning j has dropped out
Like OS and OE (change took place still in the common West Germanic
period)
Light-stemmed (A syllable is light (also: short) when it has a short vowel
and ends in a single consonant. syllables had their final consonant
lengthened (geminated or doubled), when it was followed by j.
This j later caused i-mutation (45) and was subsequently lost in all
cases.

Old English versus Old Frisian


These were the sound changes given for OE and the same changes are
found in OF
o Anglo-Frisian brightening of /a/ to // (written <e> in Ofris.)
o short (and occasionally long) /a/ becoming /o/ before nasals
o umlaut (mostly i-umlaut)
o breaking
o ingvaeonic n-deletion before fricatives and corresponding vowel
lengthening
o palatalization of /k/, /g/, leading to allophones [] and [j] for these
phonemes, and phonemicization
Turn back to p. 191, under point 2: Anglo-Frisian Brightening. You can
now answer the question why it does not take place after nasals, and is
found only infrequently before h, l, or r.
What did not happen inOF. was back mutation of the // that was the
result of Anglo-Frisian brightening, to /a/ before a following back vowel in
the next syllable: Ofris. drega carry from Gmc *dragan (cf. Gmc *dragan
to drgan to dragan in OE).

NOUNS and PRONOUNS


Like OS and OE
OF shows no ending for
o nom. sing. of masculine strong adj.
o nor for the nom. sing. of masc. strong adj.

OF shows no dual pronouns


o probably because of the available texts
o modern North F. dialects show them

Personal Pronouns
the paradigm of the personal pronoun in Frisian is identical with that of
OE apart from Ofris. sn for OE his.
3rd pers. personal pronouns beginning with h throughout
not distinguish between dat. and acc. in 1 st and 2nd pers. singular
personal pronouns

NO
M
AC
C
GE
N
DAT

MASC.
OE OF
ris
he hi
hin
e
his

hin
e
sn

hi
m

hi
m

FEM.
OE OF
ris
he hio
o
hie hia

NEUT.
OE OF
ris
hit hit

PLURAL.
OE OF
ris
hie hia

NO
M

th(i)
e

se

hit

hit

hie

hia

AC
C

the
na

o
ne

hir
e
hir
e

his

sn

hi
m

hi
m

hir
e
hi
m

hir
a
hi
m

GE
N

thes

DAT

the
mu

hir
e
hir
e

OF has no reflexive pronoun


but it shows sn as a possessive form for the masc. and neut. sing.
alle sne sthar all his colleagues

Like all Germ. dialects except Gothic


OF shows intensified demonstrative pronoun

MASC.
FEM.
OS

E
O
S
E
F
ri

Fri
s

O
S

NEUT.

OF dos not show reduplicating class of verbs


o either a vowel alternation
o reassignment to the weak class

The class of na verbs is absent in OF

The ending of 2nd pers. sg. pret. ind. = -st


Different from all other West Germ. dialects which have -i endings
(you) came OF: cmest / OHG: kmi

OF shows neither
o morphological passive
o medio-passive
it uses periphrastic constructions

O
F
ri

t
h
i

t
h
e
n
e

t
h
e
s

t
h
a
(
m
)

hi
u

eo

hi
u

he
a

ha

he
ra

re

h
er
e

he
ru

re

h
er
e

t
h
a
t

t
h
a
t

t
h
e
s

t
h
e
m
u

Comparative definite articles (dem. pronouns)

VERBS

3rd person sing pret. ind. of the verb be is almost exclusively is in OF


without t

Like OS and OE
OF shows same verb ending for all persons of plural
folgjath we, you, they follow

OF shows both long and short forms of verbs go and stand


BUT the long forms dominate
gn and gunga go
stn and stonda stand

t
h
e
t

t
h
e
t

t
h
e
s

t
h
a
(
m
)

Like OS and OE
OF has a gerund derived from infinitive, although the gerund has
frequently taken the form of past participle
present Dutch represents the earlier situation of the existence of two
infinitives

Used in we
PDE
Pres. Fris
Pres. with
Dutchthe other
Though
looked at the OF dialect
with comparison
constructions:
Germanic
dialects. However, it isnt certain if its appropriate to compare 4 th
century Gothic with 13 th century Frisian. All the dialects except for Gothic, oldest
auxiliaries:
he in
Modal
auxiliaries this
of them all that weModal
look into
have old
their names. For Modal
many languages
go their old formauxiliaries:
AcI
(perception)
description is therewill
since
contrast with their
middle
and new
(perception):
I cause
a misinterpretation
bare
infinitive
Aci (causation)
forms.
This
parallelAcI
terminology
can
in the temporal
see him go
Aci
Verbs ofinmotion:
aspect(infinitive)
of these languages.
OE, for example,
is(causation)
documented already
late-7 th and
Aci (causation): I let
Ik ga kijken later
(I go when
early-8th centuries while OF is first documented half a millennium
him go
look)
English is in its middle period. OHG, OS, OLW and ON fall between these two
AcI (perception): I
AcI (perception)

extremes in the temporal


plane. ON precedes
OF by a scant century.
watched him crossing
Aspectual Verbs,
PresentWhen
participle
comparing
we should
take the time of attestation
the road these dialects,including
verbs of
(the long
into account.
For Aspectual
a feature Verbs:
that seem position:
to distinguish
he stoodbetween young and old
infinitive)
languages
we should
decide
its an evidence
of an early language differentiation
talking
he
beganifdrinking
or a later development
again explainable on other grounds. Similarly, features that
appear to link a significantly
with an Lexical
older one
Lexical Verbsyounger language
Lexical Verbs
Verbsshouldnt
directly be assumed(embedded
a proof of early relationship.
(embedded
(embedded
desires):I
I
desires)
Three common
types of changedesires):
can really
obscure
older connections
intend/try/hope
to
intend/try/ hope
Aspectual
between
dialects.
All
three
is
well
documented
in
the
Old
FrisianVerbs:
linguistic
To-infinitive remain single
to remain single
hij stond te
characteristics.
(gerund)
praten he stood
-ar/-er endings in pl. masc. a-stem nouns:
talking
found in older eastern texts of OF
a remarkable characteristic since in many other aspects OF resembles OE
and OS
ON BEING A YOUNGER
this characteristic is only shared with ON
others show, OE: -as OS: -os
Does this mean OF has an ancient connection with ON that OE and OS
doesnt have?

Probably not

by the time OF was being written down, plural of OS was no longer


visible (it had been replaced before middle period by a or e)

many scholars assume a similar development in OF as well, thus as


would be present at an earlier period of Frisian

the as would then be replaced by a, showing no distinction


between the nom and acc. of pl. endings of documented OF

new suffixes were introduced in a relatively later period for the loss of
distinction probably taken from Scandinavians

TO SUM: original ancestor of OF showed same plural suffix with OS


and OE, the later found ar and er suffix doesnt show an earlier
close genetic relation but only a result of relatively late borrowing
the interpretation of st in the past tense for 2nd pers. sg.:
different from OS and OE, is this significant? (Spoiler: No.)
the ending st is the same with the present 2 nd per. sg. and analogically
based on it
we again assume pre-OF looked more like OS and OE with their 2 nd p. sg.
pret. ind. ending i
the ancient connection is obscured by a very common analogy
loss of final n:
reminiscent of ON again
even the oldest texts show it
but this is a very common process happening in many other Germ. dialects
all Germ. dia. has consistent strong accent on the root syllables of words and
correspondingly weak ones on ending syllables
with time this results in getting rid of consonants and vowels in those
endings
mod. English shows an advanced stage no endings on infinitives
mod. Dutch shows final n in unaccented syllables virtually never
pronounced (linking n in Present-Day Dutch only pronounced if the next
word starts with a vowel).
OLDER
LANGUAGE
this characteristic
is only shared with ON
others show, OE: -as OS: -os
most scholars think this is a drift phenomenon which is a general tendency
in all Germ. dialects (if Gothic was alive today, it would show tendencies of the
same direction)
palatalization of /k/ and /g/
a few scholars think this common assimilation must have been carried out
before Anglo-Saxons left the continent (while they were still in contact with the
Frisians)
most believe that this sound changes happened centuries later in both OE
and OF so this change might also be a drift
in this case since the prepositions are not shared of all Germ. dia., it may
indeed show an ancient connection btw. OE and OF

slate the two texts on Robinson p. 183-185

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