Five Aasters Words That Are Similar to English

Written by Dyami Millarson

I am currently doing a language challenge to learn Aasters in only 1 month.

Aasters is a conservative Frisian tongue, spoken on the Eastern part of the small wadden island of Terschelling, which was attacked by the English in the year of 1666. Aasters literally means “Eastern.”

I will list five Aasters words in this article that are etymologically related to English.

1. koe – ki (Aasters) : cow – kine (English)

English has the archaic expression “kith and kine(!)” which means “family and property; relatives and possessions.” The expression itself is alliterative, while alliteration is a poetic Germanic tradition. “Kine” is an archaic English plural of “cow.” Aasters has the plural form “ki” which is extremely conservative and so it is very remarkable that Aasters has preserved this form. Modern Standard English has lost the conservative plural form “kine.”

2. dong (Aasters) : dung (English)

Dung is animal excrement. Aasters people used to be farmers and so dung was important to them, given that dung could be used to fertilise the soil. There is also the form “donge” in Middle English which resembles the word in Aasters. The word itself is actually thousands of years old: it comes from an Indogermanic root which means “to cover.”

3. hos (Aasters) : horse (English)

“Hos” stands for *hors actually. However, the “r” in syllable-final position is usually lost in Aasters just as in spoken Modern British English where “horse” is pronounced without “r”. The Old English word is “hors” which is originally pronounced with rolling r. It is still pronounced that way in modern Scots.

Just as the cow is important in Indian culture today, the horse was considered sacred in Indogermanic culture. The Indogermanic people practised horse worship. The ancient Teutons used to consume horse meat, which was believed to bestow special powers upon its consumers, in all probability these were prowess, agility and speed. The British folk still hold horses in very high esteem to this day.

4. swon (Aasters) : swan (English)

The swan as a white animal is often a symbol for purity or virginity in Germanic traditional narratives. There are ancient stories of women who can turn themselves into swans. These female beings are swan-maidens.

5. fjean – flaag – flein (Aasters) : fly – flew – flown (English)

Compare the Old English preterite “flēag” (flew) with Aasters “flaag.” The Modern English -w in the preterite form “flew” evolved from -g, which has been preserved in Aasters.


One comment

  1. The English expression is not “kith and kine”, but “kith and kin”. Kin < OE cynn (family, race, sort), cognate with OF kenn, unrelated to kine < OE cyna, genitive plural of cu.


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