Making Frisian Languages Accessible to the English-Speaking World

Written by Dyami Millarson

It is my mission to make the Frisian languages, including the smallest ones, accessible to the English-speaking world. I have published the first-ever English dictionary of the Hindeloopen language this year, and there are more dictionaries of Frisian languages to come. The Hindeloopen Frisian dictionary is already publicly available while it is still being edited; it is a long-term project I will be working on.

The Frisian languages – particularly the small ones – have been inaccessible to the English-speaking international public. It is my goal to change that in the coming years. I have spent the last 6 years (2016-2021) studying all living – and sometimes dead – Frisian languages. My focus from 2022 is the study of all dead Frisian languages, including the historical predecessors of the languages I already know.

Having gained access to the traditional knowledge encapsulated in dozens of Frisian languages through my studies aimed at learning to fluently speak and write all living Frisian languages, I now see it as my moral duty to make that traditional knowledge accessible to the world. I believe that whoever wants to know about the linguistic and cultural heritage which is contained in the Frisian languages should be able to know all that he or she wishes to know.

It is so unfortunate that the English-speaking world has thus far been defrauded of the opportunity to access the wealth of Frisian linguistic and cultural treasures. I have been able to enjoy the Frisian linguistic and cultural and philosophical diversity all these years, yet I have always found myself thinking: it is such a pity that others cannot entertain this feeling of profound joy with me! They are really missing out on something. How can I change that, and enable them to feel the joy that I feel?

As a result of the privilege I have had to entertain the aforementioned joy, I know that the Frisian linguistic and cultural diversity is a gift to the world, and I have been studying the Frisian languages with huge passion for years in order to prevent that the tremendous variety of Frisian traditional knowledge is lost forever. I have had the honour to learn endangered languages, and whilst I feel very grateful for what I have learned, I really want to share the knowledge of all the Frisian communities with all of you.

It can be quite lonely being one of the few who has access to such vast amounts of human knowledge, and it would make me profoundly happy if others can experience the same feelings of joy that I have experienced over the years. In my view, it is a huge emotional loss if the world does not have access to all the West Frisian, East Frisian, and North Frisian languages and cultures – there are so many flavours of Frisian, and each flavour is a totally new experience.

I have learned so many wise lessons from the Frisian languages, cultures, and communities. I am eternally grateful to all Frisian tribes and clans – they are wonderful people who have fascinating stories and knowledge to share. I feel deeply connected with the Frisian ancestors who spoke different Frisian languages in the past and I feel connected with all the contemporary speakers of Frisian languages. Once you enter the world of a language and culture and philosophy of life, you acquire new relationships, which tie you to local history, geography, and people.

The study of the Frisian languages from 2016 has turned out to be a spiritual experience of connection, which transcends time and place, while simultabeously also linking you to specific times and places. It is a feeling of all the past speakers living and breathing again through your existence; all their souls live in you. There are times when I dream in Wangerooge Frisian and speak with the old Wangerooge Frisian community in their language, I can know that all their reactions and behaviours in my dreams would be their real reactions and behaviours if they were still here with us.

Being the first speaker of Wangerooge Frisian since the last speaker died is a very enigmatic experience. I have written an article in Dutch about the Wangerooge Frisian community of souls, which is a concept that describes my experience being a speaker of Wangerooge Frisian; it connects me with the dead, and yet the dead feel very much alive to me. The old community feels awakened to me; they woke up when I started speaking their language, and also the ᛗᛁᚱᛖᚹᛁᚠᛖᚱ (myrrewȳfer) local spirits of Wangerooge, with whom the Wangerooge Frisians had an intricate relationship influemcing their daily behaviours, are back.

The ᛗᛁᚱᛖᚹᛁᚠᛖᚱ (myrrewȳfer) local spirits of Wangerooge disappeared with the death of the Wangerooge Frisian language; the magical world of Wangerooge Frisian, which is the essence of the Wangerooge Frisian perspective, is an intrinsic part of the language of old Wangerooge, and the only way to access this mysterious world is through the acquisition of the language. It is like people playing games to access magical worlds, yet the magical world of Wangerooge Frisian feels totally real and authentic. In my view, it is an experience more immersive than any game you can currently buy in this world.

With all of your support, I will keep working to record all my knowledge in Operation X articles, dictionaries, papers, and books. I am passionate about my mission and I hope that I can transfer this passion to all of you. People say that enthusiasm is contagious – I better hope that this is true because it would make me enormously happy if others could join me in my experiences on my adventures in all of the magical worlds of the Frisian languages. Frisian languages are like the worlds of massively-multiplayer online roke-playing games (MMORPGs), because such worlds are more fun when others are there too; the social experience of being immersed in a world together with others counts for something as it creates memories and friendships!

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