What Is Gröde Frisian? Where Is It Spoken? Why Learn It?

Written by Dyami Millarson

This picture, which is taken in the West Frisian region where I live, eerily resembles the sight of Gröde.

Gröde Frisian is the indigenous language of the Hallig called Gröde (coordinates: 54.6361° N, 8.7236° E), which happens to be Germany’s smallest municipality. On page 448 of volume 1 of Richard Haupt’s 1887 work tited Die Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler der Provinz Schleswig-Holstein mit Ausnahme des Kreises Herzogtum Lauenburg, Gröde is classified as a Frisian locality.

Halligen and Hallig Frisian

The Halligen (singular: Hallig) are tidal marsh islands, which are situated in the Wadden Sea, and which are either scarcely protected or not protected at all by dikes and may therefore become flooded during storms. Gröde Frisian belongs to Hallig Frisian (see my recent article on my 2022 updated classification of North Frisian), which is spoken traditionally on the Halligen. Gröde Frisian is a different language from what I studied in the materials of Jens Lorenzen (1921-1995), namely what Lorenzen might have perceived as Nordmarsch-Langeneß Frisian while he grew up on Nordmarsch when it was part of one of Langenß and thus formed the combined Hallig of Nordmarsch-Langeneß which is one of the largest Halligen (see page VIII of the introduction of Deutsch-Halligfriesisch: Ein Wörterbuch; see page IX of the introduction of Halligfriesisched Lesebuch: Friesisch-Deutsch). Both Nordmarsch and Langeneß Frisian, which Theodor Siebs did not distinguish in his time while he identified Nordmarsch Frisian with Langeneß Frisian (see p. 29 of Zur Geschichte der englischen-friesischen Sprache) and only used the abbreviation Ndm. for Nordmarsch Frisian which he treated as a synonym for Langeneß Frisian (see p. 346 of Zur Geschichte der englischen-friesischen Sprache), are indigenous to this rather large Hallig nowadays simply called Langeneß that absorbed the old Hallig called Nordmarsch in the latter part of the 19th century, which is why Lorenzen called it Nordmarsch-Langeneß.

Strand Frisian Connection?

Ernst Brandt (1887-) says in 1913 on page 5 of Die nordfriesische Sprache der Goesharden that Gröde belonged to the Beltringharde, which, I should add, was a part of old Strand, which has sunken for a great part like Atlantis, and it would therefore be interesting to learn Gröde Frisian and then find out whether it might harbour some traces of or exhibit similarities to Strand Frisian; it would be valuable to know whether Gröde Frisian might offer some linguistic clues about Strand Frisian, which is a valid reason for learning Gröde Frisian.

Speaker Numbers

On page 109 of volume 21 of Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Schleswig-Holsteinische Geschichte published in 1891, it says that Gröde had 24 inhabitants and 5 families, who all spoke Frisian. In a table on page 151 of Jens Lorenzen’s 1981 work Halligfriesisches Lesebuch, it is shown that 4 out of the 15 inhabitants on Gröde still spoke Frisian in 1972. It may be concluded that Gröde Frisian was already a severely endangered language in 1972.

Cause of Decline

Language Materials

Gröde Frisian language materials are few. The scarcity of Gröde Frisian materials leaves much to be desired, but it is still better than nothing.

Gröde Frisian is attested twice in Georg Wenker’s questionnaires (German: Wenker-Fragebogen or Wenkerbogen).

A large number of Gröde Frisian words are attested in Theodor Siebs’ work Zur Geschichte der englischen-friesischen Sprache, which is really where the bulk of his Gröde Frisian materials is found. By contrast, almost no Gröde Frisian vocabulary is attested in his essay Geschichte der friesischen Sprache published in volume 1 of Hermann Paul’s Grundriß der germanischen Philologie and likewise very few Gröde Frisian words are attested in a chapter titled Die Assibilirung der friesischen Palatalen that is part of his work Die Assibilirung des K und G. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Palatalismus der indogermanischen Sprachen.

Gröde Frisian vocabulary is attested in Ernst Löfstedt’s work Die nordfriesische Mundart des Dorfes Ockholm und der Halligen.

Siebs does not write “Gröde” out fully that much in his works. Siebs’ abbreviation for Gröde Frisian, which he most frequently uses instead of the full name, is Gr. as seen in his list of abbreviations on page 346 of Zur geschichte der friesisch-englischen Sprache.

Siebs uses his signature phonetic script for spelling Gröde Frisian. Private spellings are adopted in the Gröde Frisian Wenker questionnaires.

Wenker Questionnaires

The Gröde Frisian Wenker questionnaires are handwritten documents with 40 sentences translated from German.

The two Gröde Frisian questionnaires were filled out by Bandix Friedrich Bonken and Wilhelm von Bincken. The former intuitively appears reliable to me, yet the latter appears less reliable. For instance, the Wenker questionnaire filled out by Wilhelm von Bincken does not contain the genuine Gröde Frisian form uale, which is shown in Bonken’s and Siebs’ materials, but Bincken has ule instead. The fact of the matter is that Bonken was a native, Bincken was not.

I have transliterated the Gröde Frisian sentences so they are easier to analyse.

The Wenker questionnaire filled out by Bandix Friedrich Bonken contains -. I have chosen to transliterate – as ‘.

I have added a matching English translation for the 40 Gröde Frisian sentences. I have tried to translate it as faithfully as possible.

Questionnaire 46574 by Bandix Friedrich Bonken

This is the Gröde Frisian Wenker questionnaire (taken from here). The handwriting is very legible and the writer has paid proper attention to distinguishing stem vowels in terms of phonetic realisation and duration.

Gröde Frisian

  1. In de Wonter flîn de drüḡe Blæe in de Loght ambei.
  2. Dat hått glik ap tå snaien, denn ward dat Wêr wi bêr.
  3. Dün Köl in de Kakkelön, dat de molke bâle begane tå kogan.
  4. Di göe uale Mon is med di Hingst dör’t Is bregen, end in’t köl Wår felen.
  5. Hi is fer fjaur of seghs Wigge stürven.
  6. Dæt Ial wås al tå hiat, de Kage sen ja unner roght sürt bornt.
  7. Hi êt de Åje jummer sonner Sålt end Pevver.
  8. De Föte dün mi så siar, ik liav, ik hav’s dör luppen.
  9. Ik ben bei de Wüf wesan, end hæv’t her sait, end jü sæ, ju wel dat ok her Doghter sede.
  10. Ik wal dat ok e mor wi dün.
  11. Ik slun di glik med de Koglets bei de Ure, du Abe!
  12. Wir gongst hane, skin wi med di gonge?
  13. Dat sen sjoght Tidden.
  14. Min liv Bêrn, bliv unner stönen, de måle Göse bitte di duad.
  15. Du hest dellong most lirt end best ordentlik wesen, du maist iar tåhus gonge as de Öre.
  16. Du best nogh e grote nogh, am en Bottel Win ut tå drinken, dü möst nogh iarst en Iane wakse end groter warde.
  17. Gong, wes så göd end sede Din Såster, jü sköl de Kluge fer jaren Mem klår saie end med de Bersel rian mage.
  18. Hest du ham kånt, så wåst örs kummen end hat stu ber am ham.
  19. Hôk het mi man Körv med Flåsk stêlen?
  20. Jü dên su, as hên’s ham bestelt tå tersken, man jü hên sellev dên.
  21. Tå hôk het di de nai Tæl fortelt?
  22. Diar möt’m hard holle örs forstont’r us e.
  23. Wi sen tråt end heve Torst.
  24. As wi juster Ene tåbæg kummen, da lai de Öre al ön’t Bed, end wær fast inslêpen.
  25. Di Snie is ju Naght bei üs laien blæv̄en, man morlangh is hi smolten.
  26. Aghter üs Hüs stöne trai Apelbunken med litje ruade Appele.
  27. Kön jam e en Ugenblak ever üs têve, denn win wi med jam gonge.
  28. Jam mön e sok Jongenskram drive.
  29. Us Bêrge sen e så hugh, jaren sen fol hugher.
  30. Hu folle Pun Isterbian end hu folle Bruad win jam heve?
  31. Ik ferstöne jam e, jam mön en bitje harder snâke.
  32. Heve jam e en Stôk wit Siap fer mi uv de Tafel funnen?
  33. San Brör wal ham taue smuke naie Hüsenge in jaren Tun begge.
  34. Det Ürd kum ham fon Herten.
  35. Dat woas roght fon jam.
  36. Wat sat dir fer en litjen Fuḡel uv de Murr?
  37. De Burre hên fîv Ôkse end njuḡen Ki and twalv Skêpe fer’t Torp broght, dü wêllen’s ferkupe.
  38. Dat Folk is delleng altåmoal büten uv’t Fêl tå hauen.
  39. Gong man, di brunne Hingste dêt di niks.
  40. Ik ben med’t Folk dir aghter auer de Mêd in’t Körn kert.

English

  1. In winter, the dry leaves fly around in the air.
  2. It will stop snowing soon, then the weather will get better again.
  3. Put coals in the stove, so that the milk soon begins to boil.
  4. The good old man broke with his horse through the ice and fell into the cold water.
  5. He died four or six weeks ago.
  6. The fire was too strong/hot, the bottom of the cakes are completely burned black.
  7. He always eats the eggs without salt and pepper.
  8. My feet hurt a lot, I think I ran through them.
  9. I went to the woman and told her and she said she wanted to tell her daughter too.
  10. I don’t want to do it again either!
  11. I’m about to hit you over the head with a wooden spoon, you monkey!
  12. Where are you going? Shall we go with you?
  13. These are bad times.
  14. My dear child, stay down here, the evil geese will bite you to death.
  15. You learned the most today and have been good, you can go home earlier than the others.
  16. You’re not big enough to finish a bottle of wine, you must first grow an end/somewhat and become larger.
  17. Go, be so good as to tell your sister to finish sewing your mother’s clothes and clean them with a brush.
  18. would you have known him! then things would have turned out differently, and things would have been better for him.
  19. Who stole my basket of meat?
  20. Um, like she hired him to thresh; but they did it themselves.
  21. Who did he tell the new story to?
  22. You have to shout out loud or he won’t understand you.
  23. We are tired and thirsty.
  24. When we came back last night, the others were already in bed and fast asleep.
  25. The snow stayed with us last night, but it melted this morning.
  26. There are three beautiful apple trees with red apples behind our house.
  27. If you cannot wait a moment for us, then we will go with you.
  28. You mustn’t play such childish things!
  29. Our mountains are not very high, yours are much higher.
  30. How many pounds of sausage and how much bread do you want?
  31. I don’t understand you, you have to speak a little louder.
  32. Didn’t you find me a piece of white soap on my table?
  33. His brother wants to build two beautiful new houses in your garden.
  34. The word came from his heart!
  35. That was right of them!
  36. What is that little bird sitting on top of the little wall?
  37. The peasants had brought five oxen and nine cows and twelve sheep to the village, which they wanted to sell.
  38. People are all out in the field today mowing.
  39. Just go, the brown dog won’t hurt you.
  40. I drove into the corn with the people back there across the meadow.

Questionnaire 52969D by Wilhelm von Bincken 

This Wenker questionnaire (which is taken from here) is less legible.
  1. Inne Wonter flie’n dö dröge Bleje dör dö Luft ambei.
  2. Dat holt glik up to sneien, dann ward dat Wēr wi bēr.
  3. Dün Kohle inne Kachelöwen, dat dö Mohlke bale to kogen önfange.
  4. Di göje ule Mån is me di hingste dör’t Is brägem, en in dat kol Wår felen.
  5. Hi is vor fiaur oder six Wege störwen.
  6. Dat Ihl wås to hiet, dö Kage sen je unner gans sürtbånt.
  7. He eet dö Oije jümmer ohne Sålt en Pevver.
  8. Dö Föte dün mi grui sihr, ek liefw, ek häw jem dörlöppen.
  9. Ik bin bei jö Wöf wesen, en häw er et seit en jö säi, jö wel et ok her Dochter säde.
  10. Ik wal et ok e mår wi dün!
  11. Ik sloen Di glik med de Kogleds bei dö Ure, dan Awe!
  12. War gångst Dö hanne? sken wi me Di gånge?
  13. Dat sann schlachte Tidde!
  14. Min liw Birn, blefw her dele stöhn, dö måle Göse bitte di dued.
  15. Do hest delling am maasten liert, en best ardentlig wesen, Du meist ihr to Hös gånge as dö öhre.
  16. Du bist noch e grotte nog, am en Bottel Win uttodrinken, Du möst erst noch en Inne wåxe en grotter warde.
  17. Gång, wäs so göt, en seh Din Soster, jö skul dö Kluhge fer jarem Mem klår seje, en me dö Behrfel rien mage.
  18. Häst Du ham kaant! dann wås et öhrs kummen, en et de bēr om ham stönne.
  19. Hok het min Körfw med floask stehlen?
  20. He deh sö, es hän jo ham to teersken bestellt, ju häwest awer selwest dehn.
  21. Hok het hi jo nei Geskichte fortellt?
  22. Der möt’em hārt tidde, örs verstohnd hi us eh.
  23. Wi sind tråd, en häwe Torst.
  24. Es wi en jossern Ehn tobēg kummen, der lejen de Oern all to Bed, en weren fast in’t slepen.
  25. De Snie is ju her Nācht bei us leien blewen, awer måling is hi smōlten.
  26. Achter us Hus stöhne trei nette Abelboome me roude Itje Abele.
  27. Könn jam eh noch en Ohmlak uf us tewe, den gång wi me jam.
  28. Jam möhn eh sok Jongenstoige drewe.
  29. Us Berje sinn eh just hoog Jaren senn volle hooger.
  30. Ho volle Pun Wost en ho volle Broad wen jam hewe?
  31. Ik verstöhn jam ej, jam mön en Betje harder snāke.
  32. Hewe jam nien lit Stack wit Siep ver mi uf min Tafel funnen?
  33. Dan Brör wal ham tau feine, neje Husinge in jaren Tön begge.
  34. Dat Uerd kam ham vōn Herten.
  35. Dat wås röcht von Di!
  36. Wat fadde der for litje Fugele bewen of ju lit Mur?
  37. Dö Bürre hēn fiw Ochse en niugen Ki en twelef litje Skepe ver dat Tōrp brāgt, dö wēn jö verkupe.
  38. Dat Föelk senn delling all bötten uf da Fehl en haue.
  39. Gung man, de brunne Hun deht Dö nix.
  40. Ik bin med det Föelk det achter awer dat Meedlönd in’t Körn kehrt.
  1. In winter, the dry leaves fly around in the air.
  2. It will stop snowing soon, then the weather will get better again.
  3. Put coals in the stove, so that the milk soon begins to boil.
  4. The good old man broke with his horse through the ice and fell into the cold water.
  5. He died four or six weeks ago.
  6. The fire was too strong/hot, the bottom of the cakes are completely burned black.
  7. He always eats the eggs without salt and pepper.
  8. My feet hurt a lot, I think I ran through them.
  9. I went to the woman and told her and she said she wanted to tell her daughter too.
  10. I don’t want to do it again either!
  11. I’m about to hit you over the head with a wooden spoon, you monkey!
  12. Where are you going? Shall we go with you?
  13. These are bad times.
  14. My dear child, stay down here, the evil geese will bite you to death.
  15. You learned the most today and have been good, you can go home earlier than the others.
  16. You’re not big enough to finish a bottle of wine, you must first grow an end/somewhat and become larger.
  17. Go, be so good as to tell your sister to finish sewing your mother’s clothes and clean them with a brush.
  18. would you have known him! then things would have turned out differently, and things would have been better for him.
  19. Who stole my basket of meat?
  20. Um, like she hired him to thresh; but they did it themselves.
  21. Who did he tell the new story to?
  22. You have to shout out loud or he won’t understand you.
  23. We are tired and thirsty.
  24. When we came back last night, the others were already in bed and fast asleep.
  25. The snow stayed with us last night, but it melted this morning.
  26. There are three beautiful apple trees with red apples behind our house.
  27. If you cannot wait a moment for us, then we will go with you.
  28. You mustn’t play such childish things!
  29. Our mountains are not very high, yours are much higher.
  30. How many pounds of sausage and how much bread do you want?
  31. I don’t understand you, you have to speak a little louder.
  32. Didn’t you find me a piece of white soap on my table?
  33. His brother wants to build two beautiful new houses in your garden.
  34. The word came from his heart!
  35. That was right of them!
  36. What is that little bird sitting on top of the little wall?
  37. The peasants had brought five oxen and nine cows and twelve sheep to the village, which they wanted to sell.
  38. People are all out in the field today mowing.
  39. Just go, the brown dog won’t hurt you.
  40. I drove into the corn with the people back there across the meadow.

Vocabulary from Siebs

I have taken Gröde Frisian vocabulary from the materials of Siebs and I have added an English translation. I have copied Siebs’ original script as faithfully as possible. I have used ZGEFS as abbreviation for Zur Geschichte der englischen-friesischen Sprache, I have used GFS as abbreviation for Geschichte der friesischen Sprache, and I have used AFP as abbreviation for Die Assibilirung der friesischen Palatalen. The numbers I added after the abbreviations are page numbers.

  • fêᶦr (ZGEFS: 241) – sailed 
  • kœ́ôᵘl (ZGEFS: 241) – ???
  • kå²fst (ZGEFS: 329-330) – (thou) buyest
  • å²pl (ZGEFS: 329) – apple
  • jå²x¹t (ZGEFS: 329) – light
  • ŷrd (ZGEFS: 328) – word
  • ŷrz (ZGEFS: 328) – spring
  • brœ̂ər (ZGEFS: 329) – brother
  • bœ̂k (ZGEFS: 329) – book
  • fœ̂t (ZGEFS: 329) – foot
  • smætn̥ (ZGEFS: 146) – thrown
  • honr̥t (ZGEFS: 146) – hundred
  • funn̥ (ZGEFS: 146) – found
  • bunn̥ (ZGEFS: 146) – bound
  • pun (ZGEFS: 146) – pound
  • somr̥ (ZGEFS: 146) – summer
  • hüs (ZGEFS: 245) – house
  • ky (ZGEFS: 245) – cow
  • syr (ZGEFS: 245) – sour
  • brukə (ZGEFS: 245) – use
  • kryk (ZGEFS: 245) – crock
  • ôi (ZGEFS: 331) – egg
  • stîæn (ZGEFS: 331) – stone
  • mêrn (ZGEFS: 330) – morning
  • badə (ZGEFS: 331) – pray
  • bry²kə (ZGEFS: 331) – need
  • sŷrt (ZGEFS: 328) – black
  • ŷk (ZGEFS: 328) – [weich]
  • bîæn (ZGEFS: 325) – leg
  • ûal (ZGEFS: 325) – bone
  • tôan (ZGEFS: 325, 314) – toe
  • dû’f (ZGEFS: 325) – pidgeon
  • lûas (ZGEFS: 325) – ???
  • hrûæd (ZGEFS: 324) – red
  • rîmə (ZGEFS: 302) – [riemen]
  • tîwə (ZGEFS: 301) – thief
  • hœ̂’rn (ZGEFS: 161) – horn
  • tœ̂’rn (ZGEFS: 161) – thorn
  • fêr (ZGEFS: 161) – for
  • nœ̂rdn̥ (ZGEFS: 161) – North
  • kœ̂’rn (ZGEFS: 162) – horn
  • kœᶦrt (ZGEFS: 162) – short
  • gôd (ZGEFS: 165) – deity
  • k’χâbə (AFP: 36) – teeth
  • š’i̯örk (AFP: 37) – church
  • sêz (AFP: 37) – cheese
  • twæləf (GFS: 777) – twelve
  • twêə(r) (GFS: 776) – two

Gröde Frisian Phonology

There were different methods at the disposal of Siebs, Bonken, and Binken to indicate long vowel: (1) using a circumflex, (2) using h after a vowel, (3) using a macron, (4) using a superscript number 2.

æ (which looks like œ in the original materials) stands for the e in better. smætn̥ and twælef are pronounced with æ, not œ.

œ́ôᵘ is the same sound as the Schiermonnikoog Frisian eu in feur (ZGEFS: 161).

gh in aghter is a fricative. The consonant – if it occurs – before the t in that word is always a fricative in Frisian languages. Gh in Bonken matches with ch in Bincken.

k’χ (AFP: 36) stands for kj: Bonken would write k’χâbə as kjâbe.

This Article Is Under Construction

  1. More facts and details will be added about Gröde’s geography and history.
  2. Examples of Gröde Frisian vocabulary will be added in Siebs’ phonetic script.
  3. More facts from Jens Lorenzen will be added about the number of speakers at different times.

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