Written by Dyami Millarson
Our blog, which is where all the latest news of Foundation Operation X for languages, cultures and perspectives is published, has reached 3,500 WordPress followers as of today (that is, if we exclude e-mail followers from our tally). Today’s article will be a special update for our followers, as I am pondering a new language challenge.
I have recently been in contact with speakers of Afrikaans and I have been carefully weighing the option of starting an Afrikaans language challenge, which means I will have to study Afrikaans intensively for a prolonged period of time this year in order to master the language fully.
I am definitely interested in that language challenge, because it would be quite interesting to master this language that is closely related to Dutch, and therefore also closely related to Frisian. I will study this language from the Frisian angle definitely, because others have already studied Afrikaans based on their interest in Dutch.
It has often been asserted by speakers of English and Frisian that English and Frisian are closely related, but I think much people do not realise that Afrikaans is closely related to Frisian, particularly the Frisian languages as spoken in the Netherlands, while the Frisian languages spoken in Germany are somewhat closer to High and Low German due to cross-influence and convergent evolution.
Frisian as spoken in the Netherlands evolved alongside Dutch, its speakers were mostly in contact with speakers of Dutch, and so it is essential to grasp that while Frisian and Dutch have been intertwined in their linguistic evolution, it is only reasonable to suppose Afrikaans has a special relationship with Frisian as well, particularly the Frisian languages traditionally spoken in the Netherlands: East and West Terschelling Frisian, Clay and Wood Frisian comprising Shire Frisian, Hindeloopen and Molkwerum Frisian, and Schiermonnikoog Frisian.
I have yet to intensively study Southwest Corner Frisian to know its exact place in all of this, but it seems that Southwest Corner Frisian has a place in between Hindeloopen-Molkwerum Frisian and Clay-Wood Frisian, while probably leaning the most to the latter. I need to take a good look at this in the future, because it is an important question whether Southwest Corner Frisian is a language of its own that stands between two groups or whether it is almost indistinguishable from Clay-Wood Frisian, making it effectively an accent (i.e., a way of saying things a bit differently, but not too much and therefore making communication between the different groups comfortable enough to facilitate regular daily exchanges).
I believe that Southwest Corner Frisian may have been evolving to become more and more like Clay-Wood Frisian due to the latter’s sheer size in number of speakers. I would like to investigate this notion when I study Southwest Corner Frisian intensively someday, perhaps this or next year. I would love to make a list of irregular and strong verbs of Southwest Corner Frisian to take a good look at its grammar and I would be very interested in studying its phonology.
Let’s briefly return to the interrelationship between Afrikaans and Frisian. Frisian-speaking regions are known to be multilingual, and so I will have a multilingual Frisian perspective on Afrikaans. The Netherlandic Frisians, who are both Frisian-speaking and Dutch-speaking, will definitely feel a close affinity with Afrikaans and I believe that speakers of Afrikaans will feel the same. I would love to test this hypothesis with speakers of Afrikaans and see how much they feel Netherlandic Frisian languages to be related to Afrikaans. It would be interesting to present them with the different Frisian languages of the Netherlands and study their reactions to these languages that I believe are closely related to Afrikaans just like Dutch.