How to Classify Holland Frisian?

Written by Dyami Millarson

17th-century love song book from Amsterdam.

On pages 24-27 of ‘t Amsterdams minne-beeckje: Op nieuws bestroomt met verscheyde minne-deuntjes en nieuwe ghezanghen (the Amsterdamian love brooklet: flooded anew with various love tunes and new songs), a curious Frisian love song can be found. As far as I know, it is the only Frisian text that contains the forms jeck and tioegen. So if you search these words in Google Books, the aforementioned work containing that text should show up.

In 1906, W. Zuidema’s contribution titled Een onbekend Friesch minnelied (an unknown Frisian love song) appeared on pages 320-322 of number 20 of De Vrije Fries (digitised version available on the official website of the Royal Frisian Society). W. Zuidema copied the aforementioned Frisian love song and characterised it as wrong Shire Frisian. He said that “apparently the printer and typesetter did not know a word of Shire Frisian.”

Zuidema was entirely correct in identifying the text as Frisian, and he deserves credit for that, yet he was judging it too much by his Shire Frisian norms, because even today there are other pristine forms of Frisian spoken in the Netherlands, which do obviously not conform to the Shire Frisian norms. Frisian is often treated as entirely synonymous with Shire Frisian, which is also something Zuidema did, and this is the root of the problem; for it undercuts proper linguistic analysis, proving the whole point of my recent article on Shire Frisian that we need a proper term to distinguish Shire Frisian from Frisian while the reality is that there is a whole slew of other Frisian languages in both the Netherlands and Germany, and people should be educated about this diversity of Frisian languages, so they do not think – contrary to linguistic reality – that there is only one Frisian or only one correct Frisian linguistic norm.

Arjen Versloot analysed the Frisian song without Zuidema’s bias and he came to the inevitable conclusion that the Frisian song represents Frisian indigenous to North Holland, which is a significant contribution to historical linguistics. When seeing the Frisian song in the context of the Amsterdamian love song book, I find it very logical that this song represents local Frisian; because as a reader of 17th-century Dutch, I am inclined to make the assumption that the song represents “een Amsterdams taeltje” (an Amsterdamian language) or “een Hollands taeltje” (a Hollandic language). It helps to be very fluent in 17th-century Dutch, so you can reason in the same way as the ancestors and automatically make the same assumptions. When you master a language truly, it helps you understand the way speakers of that language think, and this applies as well to historical forms of languages, such as 17th-century Dutch. Languages may guide you in the right direction, and if you wish to study historical documents, having active knowledge of the historical language language of those documents – if it is possible to learn the language to fluency as whether one is able to do so depends on whether enough materials of the language exist – will help guide you in interpreting the document in the original historical way as it was intended to be understood by contemporary readers.

The start of the Holland Frisian love song on page 24 of the Amsterdamian love song book. The clearly Frisian words liaf and femke are visible.

When analysing the only extant Hollandic Frisian text, I find very curious similarities to (Classical) Hindeloopen Frisian, which I classify as South Sea Frisian (see the copy of my 2022 mission statement). The Hollandic Frisian text has jeck (occurring multiple times so you cannot miss it) for the first person singular pronoun, and if jeck does not simply stand for ieck since people regularly used the j for the i in the past, then it originally comes from *ieck either way, which is similar to Hindeloopen Frisian iek. If the j in jeck genuinely stands for a semivowel and not a vowel, then what probably happened is that the first person personal pronoun was originally pronounced as iek with a long vowel /iː/, like was probably the case in Classical Hindeloopen Frisian as well, then the Hollandic Frisian pronoun became pronounced as iek with a falling diphthong /iɛ̯/ as an intermediate stage and then eventually turned into jeck with a rising diphthong /i̯ɛ/, which is but a small change that also occurred in Icelandic where the first person singular pronoun ég is pronounced /i̯ɛɣ/ which comes from elder /eːk/ (compare Old West Norse ek), in Gutnish where the first person singular ja is pronounced /ja/ which comes from elder /aːk/, in Swedish where the first person singular pronoun jag is pronounced /jɑː(ɡ)/ which comes from elder /aːk/, etc. The lengthening of vowels in light syllables occurred in Scandinavian languages, which is what caused the lengthening of the vowel in the first person singilar pronoun, which is what subsequently led to the diphthongisation of that long vowel in the Scandinavian languages. However, the diphthongisation is not universal in Scandinavian, as it did not occur in Elfdalian, where the first person singular pronoun is ig.

The Scandinavian languages demonstrate that the development of a rising diphthong from an original long vowel is possible, and it ought to be remarked that Frisian is a West Germanic language family which often has Scandinavian-like features. The Frisians, such as the Hindeloopen Frisians and Schiermonnikoog Frisians, often claim Scandinavian roots while they feel close kinship with Scandinavia and they also interacted with Scandinavians as sea-oriented and sea-faring coastal peoples. This feeling of kinship with Scandinavia – as well as interaction with Scandinavia – is actually ancient. The pagan Frisians in the time of Radbod also had a close relationahip with the pagan Danes. Frisians have always been coastal sea-oriented peooles, and so the interaction with Scandinavia was a natural state of affairs for Frisians. Physically, the Frisians also look like Scandinavians, which only strengthens their traditional belief – since time immemorial – that they are a Nordic or Scandinavian people.

Page 25. The forms haus, jen, jern, allie, weijtste, hier, wen, fermeytse, sto, soo, wier, tioegen, sies are visible.

We should, nevertheless, reason more about whether j in jeck stands for a so-called semivowel or glide. Another word spelled in the same way as jeck in the Holland Frisian love song is jen, which corresponds to Shire Frisian ien which is pronounced with a falling diphthong, while the je of jen might be a rising diphthong. Juxtaposing jen and ien shows to me that (1) a change from a falling dipthong to a rising diphthong is but a small change, and (2) jeck must have come from an intermediate ieck where ie is pronounced as a falling dipthong. Contrary to Scandinavian where the rising diphthongs arose from long vowels or as I might say “by simply adding the j to the long vowels,” the Holland Frisian rising diphthongs in jeck and jen must have originated from a falling diphthong, which was derived from a long vowel. Namely, jen is related to Hindeloopen Frisian een (= ēn) and to Old Frisian ēn (= een). There are North Frisian languages which exhibit a rising diphthong in this numeral as well: Heligoland Frisian iáán, Amrum Frisian ian, Föhr Frisian ian, Hallig Frisian ian. These North Frisian forms are derived from Old Frisian ān rather than ēn (just like Icelandic ég and Gutnish ja go back to *ēk and *jā respectively).

Page 26. The forms jes, tensen, tinse, dinsen, ast, geet, spieljen, steen, tenge etc. are visible.

Yet another word with je in the Holland Frisian text is jes, which corresponds to Hindeloopen Frisian ies (is). The Holland Frisian text also uses the variant is seemingly without rising diphthong. If jes indeed was pronounced with a rising diphthong, the development must have been like that of jeck: jes (with rising dipthong) < *ies (with falling diphthong) < *ijs (with long vowel). The sign < stands for “comes from” in historical linguistics. I am basing my spelling of ie and ij for the reconstructed forms on the Holland Frisian text, which is based on tbe 17th-century Dutch spelling. I know of no other Frisian language in the Netherlands which has iek and ies, so I find the similarity between Holland Frisian and Hindeloopen Frisian particularly striking. Iek and ies are words for me by which I immediately recognise Hindeloopen Frisian, and so it is very remarkable that Holland Frisian shows similarity in these exact same words. The Holland Frisian text says jer for hier here on page 26, which shows the relationship between je and ie. The long ie (= ii in Hindeloopen Frisian and Shire Frisian spelling) of hier must have become naturally diphthongised before the r like in many other Netherlandic Frisian languages.

Is there another unambiguous example of a rising diphthong in Holland Frisian? Liaf, which is related to Hindeloopen Frisian lééf and the archaic English word lief, clearly is an example of a rising diphthong that goes back to Old Frisian. Namely, the Old Frisian form is liāf. Compare Sagelterland Frisian ljoof. If Holland Frisian liaf were spelled like Sagelterland Frisian ljoof, it would be spelled ljaf.

Are there more words in the Holland Frisian text that use the i as part of a rising diphthong? Tioegen, which is related to Hindeloopen Frisian tjiₐn, is such an example. Tioegen would be *tjoogen in the Hindeloopen Frisian spelling of van der Kooy and tjiₐn would be *tiion (or perhaps *tion) if we were to imitate the spelling of tioege. The i in tioegen comes from j originally. Compare Middle Dutch te jeghen. Tioege(n), which comes from *te *joegen (stronger forms for *te are *to and *toe). I am inclined to read tiemme diphthong. Tiemme (p. 26) may stand for *tien *me due to assimilation (compare bieer for *bie *heer), and if so, then it is related to the Hindeloopen Frisian form tjèₐn, which is an alternative to tjiₐn. An alternative interpretation is that tiemme is related to tiemke (< *teemke), but I am currently more inclined to favour the interpretation of tiemme being equivalent to Hindeloopen Frisian tjiₐn mie to me. Tioese, where the i is part of a rising diphthong, would be spelled as tjooze in the Hindeloopen Frisian spelling of van der Kooy.

There should, moreover, be no doubt that the j may be used for the semivowel /j/ in Holland Frisian; for Holland Frisian exhibits a typical Frisian distinction between verbs ending in -e(n), such as attested in dinse/tinse/tensen, and verbs ending in -je(n), such as attested in spieljen. The latter shows that when the author spelled j, he meant the j as in other Frisian languages.

Is j used for an unambiguous j-sound at the beginning of a word in the Holland Frisian text so we know for sure that the use of j in jeck, jes and jen is not some spelling convention where i is replaced witb j at the beginning of words while they are regarded as interchangeable letters? Jern, which is cognate with German gern and Groningen Saxon geern, is such an example. The j in jern comes from g through palatalisation and so it is an unambiguous j, which proves that the j at the beginning of words could indeed be deljberately intended as the semivowel /j/, which increases the likelihood of the reading of jen, jeck and jes as /jɛn/, /jɛk/ and /jɛs/ respectively.

A curious development, which is similar to that of Gutnish and Elfdalian for instance, is the word haus (p. 25) with a falling diphthong. The Old Frisian ū has apparently been diphthongised into au in Holland Frisian, which is a parallel development with Gutnish, Elfdalian, German, English, and Dutch where the Germanic ū has changed into äu, au, au, au, “ou” and ui respectively. Compare this with Groningen Saxon hoes, Hindeloopen Frisian huus, Sagelterland Frisian Huus, Nordmarsch-Langeneß Frisian hüs/hus, Swiss German hus, Scots hoos, Swedish hus, and Icelandic hús where no diphthongisation has occurred.

The o may interchange between short and long: to and toe, so and soo, ho and hoe. The sound of this o must have been similar to what T. van der Kooy would spell as ó for Hindeloopen Frisian. To/toe, so/soo and ho/hoe correspond to Hindeloopen Frisian , and . These forms do, nevertheless, not only correspond to Hindeloopen Frisian, but also to Schiermonnikoog Frisian , , and East Terschelling Frisian to, so, and ho.

As we have seen that the oe in the Holland Frisian text stands for oo, it is interesting to note that moecht with a long oo spelled as oe corresponds to Hindeloopen Frisian mòòcht. Based on this, one would also expect the form *toecht in Holland corresponding to Hindeloopen Frisian tòòt, which comes from *tòòcht. Moet as in moet elkeere (p. 27) may be etymologically related to Dutch tegemoet towards something/someone, which corresponds to temjitte in Shire Frisian; the to(e) may have been omitted for poetical reasons, so moet might stand for *to(e)moet.

There is variation between ee and ie: weer and wier was, dier (p. 24) and deer (p. 26) there. Variation between weer (p. 25) and wier/wiir (long i before r could be written either as ie/ii in the spelling of T. van der Kooy) has historically occured in Hindeloopen Frisian as well. The attested infinitive wiesen corresponds to the Hindeloopen Frisian wèèze. The Holland Frisian ie in this case goes back to a long tense ee. Based on Hindeloopen Frisian which immediately made me see the connection between ee and ie in the case of swiet and which was confirmed by weer/wier and deer/dier, I am strongly inclined to believe that Holland Frisian swiet, wiesen and dier must originally have been pronounced with a long tense i-sound, which corresponds to the long tense e-sound, and therefore swiet, wiesen and dier should be represented as swiit, wiizen and diir in the Hindeloopen Frisian spelling of van der Kooy. Allie(ne) (p. 25-26) corresponds to Schiermonnikoog Frisian allene. Wieter water must be derived from *weeter. Sies say must come from *sees, which corresponds to Schiermonnikoog Frisian seez. Griet (p. 26) seems to stand for *greet (= *greed). Leet let, which might have had the alternative form *liet, corresponds to Hindeloopen Frisian leet.

The Holland Frisian word lieck alike also exists as liek in Hindeloopen Frisian. It is like in Shire Frisian. The ie, y and ij (all just interchangeable spellings for the same sound) occurs in many places where one would expect the tense i-sound in a Frisian language: myn/mijn/mien my, dijn thy, bie at, die thee, wie we, ijn in, tiet time, altijet always which correspond to Hindeloopen Frisian mien, dien, bie, die, wie, ien, tiid, altied and Shire Frisian myn, dyn, by, dy, wy, yn, tiid, altyd – the difference between Hindeloopen Frisian ie and Shire Frisian y here being just a matter of spelling convention.

Interesting similarities I have noticed with Hindeloopen Frisian are as follows:

Holland Frisian

  1. So(o)
  2. To(e)
  3. Ho(e)
  4. Ken
  5. Den
  6. Jeck
  7. Ies
  8. Wier/weer
  9. Moecht
  10. Wen
  11. Geet
  12. Sto
  13. Tiemme
  14. Swiet (= swijt/swyt, i.e. swiit/swīt)
  15. Leet

(Classical) Hindeloopen Frisian

  1. Ken
  2. Den
  3. Iek
  4. Ies
  5. Weer
  6. Mòòcht
  7. Wenneer
  8. Géét
  9. Stoog
  10. Tjèₐn mie
  11. Sweet
  12. Leet

Yet uniquely Holland Frisian compared to other Netherlandic Frisian languages are: wie sin(nen) we are, jen ender one another, elkeere each other, mit/met with, ons usSin(nen) and mit/met remind me of Wangerooge Frisian sin and mit. Ons is not Anglo-Frisian, since the Anglo-Frisian form lacks the n, and therefore it is easy to identify this form as borrowed (compare with ender other which we will discuss more later).

I would like to conclude the following so far: Holland Frisian exhibits some traits that are strikingly similar to Hindeloopen Frisian, yet it underwent its own developments (e.g. the diphthongisation in jeck and haus), had its own set of archaisms (e.g. the retention of Old Frisian ia in liaf), and had its own unique vocabulary (e.g. tioegen, jern, sinnen, and mit/met). I was already aware of these similarities and differences when I wrote the Frisian linguistic classification which I first published on our mission statement page (see the copy of that classification here). I did consider 3 main scenarios:

  1. Hindeloopen-Molkwerum Frisian forms an Eastern South Sea Frisian group and Holland Frisian a Western South Sea Frisian group within West Frisian;
  2. Holland Frisian forms its own language family which may simply be called South Frisian;
  3. Hindeloopen-Molkwerum Frisian and Holland Frisian both belong to the proposed South Frisian language family, but are Eastern and Western branches respectively.

How did I come up with the Western and Eastern South Sea Frisian categories? If I categorise Molkwerum and Hindeloopen Frisian as South Sea Frisian and if Holland Frisian which was spoken to the Western side of the South Sea when compared to Hindeloopen and Molkwerum, when why not describe Holland Frisian as Western South Sea Frisian and then specify Hindeloopen-Molkwerum Frisian as Eastern South Sea Frisian?

To consider the classification of Holland Frisian, we must take a closer look at more sound developments than those which resemble Hindeloopen-Molkwerum Frisian; for the resemblance to Hindeloopen-Molkwerum Frisian is just the initial impression that needs to be further borne out by facts. Yes, the phonology of Holland Frisian is intuitively close to that of Hindeloopen-Molkwerum Frisian, and there is no doubt in my mind that Hindeloopen Frisian has been helpful in studying Holland Frisian, but further comparison with the other Frisian languages of the Netherlands is definitely required; for these languages may shed on the nature of Holland Frisian as well, and help to make sense of its linguistic features.

Page 27. The forms wot, elkeere, geen, densen, moet are visible.

Spielt is an inflected form of a je-verb, and therefore an ending -et would be expected according to other Frisian languages, yet the shortened -t occurs. The latter ending may also occur in Hindeloopen Frisian in je-verbs.

Holland Frisian, which has the forms fermeytse, weijtste and bereytse exhibits ts whereas kj occurs in Hindeloopen Frisian and Sagelterland Frisian, tj in Schiermonnikoog Frisian, and tsj in Shire Frisian, Southwest Corner Frisian, and East Terschelling Frisian. The Holland Frisian situation is akin to the situation in West Terschelling Frisian which exhibits ts in the followong cases: meitse make, reitse reach, weitse guard, preitse talk. The Holland Frisian and West Terschelling Frisian ts, the conservative Hindeloopen Frisian, Molkwerum Frisian and Sagelterland Frisian kj, Schiermonnikoog Frisian tj, and Shire Frisian, Southwest Corner Frisian, and East Terschelling Frisian tsj correspond to Old Frisian ki /ki̯/. Ts must have come from tsj through fronting. The post-alveolar sibilant /ʃ/ and alveolar sibilant /s/ are phonetically quite similar and when one pronounces /ʃ/ a bit further to the front, one ends up with /s/. Tj must in turn be an elder stage of tsj while kj must be the original form of tj. The tj and kj are palatalised plosives, the ts and tsj are sibilant affricatives. Schiermonnikoog Frisian and Hindeloopen Frisian are similarly archaic, yet Hindeloopen Frisian is usually more archaic. Schiermonnikoog Frisian basically has the status of beinf Holland Frisian shows similarity with other Netherlandic Frisian languages on account of the ts.

The e interchanges with the i in Holland Frisian. Words that occur both with e and i: met and mit with, net and nit not, en(de) and in and, tinse and tensen/densen dance. Sagelterland Frisian has mäd (= med) with and nit not as well. When in det and that is said in Holland Frisian, it corresponds to in dot and that in East Terschelling Frisian. Please note that en could change to in without causing ambiguity in Holland Frisian and East Terschelling Frisian because the Holland Frisian and East Terschelling Frisian preposition “in” is ijn and yn respectively. The e has frequently developed into i in Shire Frisian: momint moment, studint student, kinne know, rinne walk.

The o comes from a in some cases: wot what < *wat. This corresponds to the variation between East Terschelling Frisian wot and West Terschelling Frisian wat. Variation between a and o existed to some extent in Old Frisian and Old English as well: man and mon. I discussed the a/o interchange of Old English and Frisian recently in my article on the pronunciation of the Old Norse ǫ. Holland Frisian exhibits aen, which may correspond to Old Frisian and Old English an, while Hindeloopen Frisian has oeₑn, East and West Terschelling Frisian oan, Shire Frisian oan, Schiermonnikoog Frisian oon, which correspond to Old Frisian and Old English on. If the Holland Frisian form corresponded to the latter forms, it could have been written *oan because it becomes apparent from the spelling of moaje that the Holland Frisian writer was familiar with the oa to express the long lax vowel /ɔː/, as opposed to the long tense vowel /oː/ which he spelled as oe.

The a interchanges with the e: dat and det that. Femke, which occurs in the Holland Frisian text, is a typical Frisian word and corresponds to Shire Frisian famke. Den then, which corresponds to Hindeloopen Frisian den, stands for *dan. Tensen, densen and tinse dance stand for *tanse(n)/*danse(n). The devoicing of d to t is reminiscent of German tanzen. Tenge stands for *tange, which comes from *tonge. Ender stands for *ander, which comes from Middle Dutch; for the Old Frisian and Old English forms, which are ōther and ōþer, exhibit no n, while the Germanic nasal before the Germanic þ is absent in Anglo-Frisian, and so Holland Frisian ender can easily be identified as a non-Anglo-Frisian form. Holland Frisian elkeere each other is derived from *elkender like its Dutch parallel elkaar is derived from elkander. The Holland Frisian form stet city, of which the stem vowel corresponds to a Germanic a, is already old and not a recent development, because stede already occurred in Old Frisian and Old English. Holland Frisian sel shall may come from *sal. Compare Hindeloopen Frisian sòl.

Geen and steen correspond to West Terschelling Frisian, East Terschelling Frisian, and Shire Frisian gean and stean. It is unlike Hindeloopen Frisian gaaₑn and staaₑn, which is more like Schiermonnikoog Frisian gain and stain. The Old Frisian and Old English form of the former verb is gān and the Old Frisian form of the latter verb is stān. Old English did not have the form stān, but only the form standan, which corresponds to the Old Frisian verb stonda/standa. The verbs go and stand are always a good indicator for me to what group of Frisian languages a particular Frisian language shows more affinity to.

The u and o may be interchangeable in the Holland Frisian text, as both sullen and sollen occur. The u and o were interchangeable in 17th-century Dutch texts as well.

Holland Frisian is unlike other Netherlandic Frisian languages except Terschelling Frisian in that it does not use ‘t or the like in relative clauses where it would be expected. From the perspective of many Netherlandic Frisian languages, the sentences in the Holland Frisian text would be ungrammatical. For instance, wen jeck heer… would be expected to be wen ‘t jeck heer… or wen det jeck heer and de tioese die komt would be expected to be de tioese die ‘t komt or de tioese die det komt. The Holland Frisian languages would, however, appear grammatical from the perspective of Sagelterland Frisian and Terschelling Frisian.

Hindeloopen Frisians not usually not say as òf for as if, yet Holland Frisian has as of, which would be regarded as ungrammatical by both Hindeloopen Frisians and Shire Frisians. So this is another important difference.

The use of the suffix -en in non-finite verbs in Holland Frisian would be experienced as ungrammatical by Western, Eastern and North Frisians. The use of -en instead of -e must be the result of Dutch interference (either just in the spelling or maybe in the actual pronunciation); for the grammatical situation of the the use of non-finite suffixes -e and -en should have been the same as in the other Frisian languages. So, the same system as exists in other Frisian languages can be reconstructed to be the original system for Holland Frisian as

The Holland Frisian contractions oppe and ast are entirely expected in the other Netherlandic Frisian languages, and so this shows once more that Holland Frisian definitely linguistically belongs to the Netherlandic Frisian area.

The Frisian words for hand and land are unfortunately not attested in the Holland Frisian text. The words for hand and land in any Frisian language always give me a good idea of what a Frisian language is like. Nevertheless, I can attempt to reconstruct the Holland Frisian forms. The existence of ts in Holland Frisian shows how far the language has already developed, it is not as archaic as Hindeloopen-Molkwerum Frisian or Schiermonnokoog Frisian. In fact, it is more like I believe the Holland Frisian forms would be more like Terschelling Frisian and Shire Frisian, and given the relatively unconservative nature of Holland Frisian ss seen in ts for Old Frisian ki and ee for Old Frisian ā, it is to be expected that the Old Frisian d would be lost in the Holland Frisian forms, which is unlike what happened in Hindeloopen Frisian, Molkwerum Frisian, Sagelterland Frisian, and Upgant Frisian where the Old Frisian d is retained. The Old Frisian d is, however, lost in the vast majority of Frisian languages, and so its loss would not be unexpected in Holland Frisian, but rather its retention would have been an anomaly. If Holland Frisian aen < Old Frisian an is an indication, then Holland Frisian might be a Frisian language that tends more towards Old Frisian a rather than Old Frisian o (see my discussion of the descendants of Old Frisian man and mon in this recent article). Since Old Frisian has both land and lond, the question is whether the stem vowel of the Holland Frisian word for “land” would be more like Hindeloopen Frisian ââ or Terschelling Frisian ô: either Holland Frisian would say laen (based on the spelling of aen) or loan (based on the spelling of moaje). I do not expect loen because oe stands for a long tense vowel and oa for a long lax vowel. If it were the o-variant, it would be the long lax vowel oa. Is it possible that the forms lin and hin occurred for land and hand in Holland Frisian? If that were the case, then lin and hin would have to come from len and hen, which would come from lan and han, which would, unlike many other Frisian languages, not have undergone vowel lengthening. It is a possible scenario, because land and hand also occur in Southwest Corner Frisian without vowel lengthening. For this reasom, it may also be tempting to interpret bie hin as by hand on page 26.

The i may be used in the Holland Frisian text for a short tense vowel: min my, bi at. Sin (p. 25) are may or may not have a tense vowel, but the form sinnen suggests a lax vowel.

Not all ie-sound in Holland Frisian go back to Old Frisian ī: swiet (< *sweet) sweet, hier here, dier (< deer) there, sienge sing, wiesen (< *wesen) to be. Wiesen is related to Old Frisian sa. The elder tense ē retained from Old Frisian in Holland Frisian contrasts sharply with the lax ê, which characterises all West Frisian languages, even Schiermonnikoog Frisian a in wazze and batter goes back to the lax ê (development: wazze < *wôze < *wêze and batter < *bôter < *bêter). The development of Old Frisian ē of wēsa may serve as a yardstick to measure whether Holland Frisian is West Frisian or not. West Frisian languages show confirmity in the change of Old Frisian tense ē to lax ê and would therefore never exhibit the change to long ī as in wiesen; Holland Frisian does not conform to the West Frisian norm and rather finds agreement with Sagelterland Frisian and North Frisian, which shows that Holland Frisian is Frisian, bjt nlt the same kind of Frisian as West Frisian, therefore it must belong to a different family. One would need to change the definition of what characterises West Frisian in order to fit in Holland Frisian with West Frisian, yet it is better to make a distinction. One may thus conclude there is a distinction between Northern and Southern West Frisian (which we may call simply West Frisian and South Frisian) just as there is between Northern and Southern East Frisian (simpy called North and East Frisian). Deer must be another case where tense long vowel ē occurred instead of West Frisian lax long vowel ê. The attested Holland Frisian form leet is related to the Hindeloopen Frisian infinitive leete. Both forms come from Old Frisian lēta. Schiermonnikoog Frisian has liete with diphthongisation and Shire Frisian has litte. According to the West Frisian North Hollandic dictionary of Jan Pannekeet, West Frisian North Hollandic (which I plan to start learning intensively from 1 September this year) has the word skeip (= skäip in the North Frisian and Sahelterlandic spelling), which looks similar to Northern Goesharde Frisian schäip and Sagelterland Frisian Skäip. Hindeloopen Frisian has skeep, which corresponds to Old Frisian. Based on the correspindence between Holland Frisian ee, Hindeloopen Frisian ee and Old Frisan ē, I may reconstruct *skeep for Holland Frisian, and *skiep (which may or may not be the ancestor of skeip) is also possible in Holland Frisian due to the interchange between ee and ie, which brings us back to the point that ie may not always be derived from Old Frisian ī.

Au goes back to Old Frisian ū: haus house. We might reconstruct *maus mouse and *laus louse based on Old Frisian ū changing to au in Holland Frisian. The development of Old Frisian ū usually is characteristic for each Frisian language family. The Old Frisian ū is retained or changed to long üü in West Frisian, retained in East Frisian, and changed to short ü or u in North Frisian (e.g., Nordmarsch-Langeneß Frisian hüs and hus). Since Old Frisian language families are recognised by their development of Old Frisian ū, Holland Frisian may also be recognised as belonging to a separate Frisian language family; the development of ū is an important factor in identofying Frisian language families.

Where Holland Frisian could have matched Hindeloopen Frisian, Holland Frisian is unlike Hindeloopen Frisian in the following important ways and instead matches Terschelling Frisian and Shire Frisian more:

  • Holland Frisian ts as in fermeytse is unlike Hindeloopen Frisian kj as in femeikje
  • Holland Frisian geen and steen is unlike Hindeloopen Frisian gaaₑn and staaₑn
  • Holland Frisian nit/net is unlike Hindeloopen Frisian nâât
  • Holland Frisian sies is unlike Hindeloopen Frisian sis

Holland Frisian is unlike Hindeloopen Frisian in the following important ways without resembling any other Netherlandic Frisian language:

  • Holland Frisian tenge is unlike Hindeloopen Frisian toenge
  • Holland Frisian aen is unlike Hindeloopen Frisian oeₑn
  • Holland Frisian wieter is unlike Hindeloopen Frisian wetter

Holland Frisian is the closest match to Hindeloopen Frisian there is in the Netherlands in terms of jeck and jes, but that is not the only linguistic feature that counts. What really matters is how far the developed of ts has progressed – it has progressed even further than Shire Frisian – yet is the closest match to West Terschelling Frisian in terms of ts.

Final Verdict

Could Holland Frisian be regarded as genetically related to Hindeloopen-Frisian? The investigation of scenario 1, in which I considered whether Hindeloopen-Molkwerum Frisian and Holland Frisian might belong to a related East South Sea Frisian branch and a West South Sea Frisian branch, leads to the view that although there might be merit to comparison, Holland Frisian is quite different from Hindeloopen-Molkwerum Frisian in terms of sounds and words.

Could Holland Frisian be regarded as West Frisian or does it belong to another language family? The investigation of scenario 2, in which I considered whether Holland Frisian might be part of a separate Frisian language family, leads to the view that although Holland Frisian does match with Hindeloopen-Molkwerum Frisian, Shire Frisian, Terschelling Frisian, Schiermonnikoog Frisian, and Southwest Corner Frisian in many cases, yet it is also highly divergent from all other forms of Frisian in the Netherlands. The forms liaf, haus, jeck, jes, jen, wieter, heer, mit/met, etc. show the uniqueness of Holland Frisian and its grammar seems divergent too. However, many words, sounds and grammatical features can be predicted and reconstructed based on West Frisian languages, so it can be said that, to some extent, Holland Frisian follows a West Frisian logic or at least logic that shows it is a Frisian language native to the Netherlands. What can be said for sure is that Holland Frisian belongs to the Frisian language family, yet stem vowel developments such as seen in haus and wiesen and divergent words such as tioegen and tioese and divergent grammar such as sin(nen) show that Holland Frisian does not neatly fit into West Frisian and already diverged from West Frisian since early times. Just like North Frisian is originally descended from East Frisian and got influenced by Scandinavian, Holland Frisian may be regarded as a ultimately descended from West Frisian, but belonging to a separate family that got cut off completely from West Frisian and got influenced by Frankish from early on instead. Although developments such as ts run parallel to developments in West Frisian, the origin of the stem vowel of wiesen is a better indicator of Holland Frisian not following West Frisian logic ans javing developed differently from Old Frisian, just like North Frisian did develop differently from Old Frisian compared to East Frisian. The geographical distance between North and East Frisian is greater than between Holland Frisian and West Frisian languages, which explains why the latter pair is more similar; there could have been continued contact between West Frisian and Holland Frisian. The vowel developments in haus and wiesen are good benchmarks to assess whether Holland Frisian belongs to West Frisian, and the result of this assessment is that the aforementioned Holland Frisian words give credence to the South Frisian hypothesis: South Frisian split off from West Frisian at some point as did North Frisian split off from East Frisian at some point. When I shared information on the classification of Frisian on the mission statement page (see copy here), I was always open to the South Frisian hypothesis and I did consider the option of Holland Frisian being a distinct family from Hindeloopen Frisian and so I was open to the interpretation of Western South Sea Frisian and Eastern South Sea Frisian belonging to distinct language families, though I felt these languages may have had language contact before their ultimate decline: “Holland Frisian may belong to a Western South Sea Frisian grouping which is distinct from the Eastern South Sea Frisian grouping to which Hindeloopen Frisian and others belong. This grouping may perhaps also be called Coast or Water Frisian as it was historically spoken in the coast or water regions of North Holland, where West Frisian North Hollandic tongues that replaced the proper West Frisian ones are now spoken. Yet another alternative name for the grouping is South Frisian, as it would be the southernmost Frisian.”

Does Hindeloopen-Molkwerum Frisian belong to the same language family as Holland Frisian? There is certainly great merit to comparing Hindeloopen Frisian and Holland Frisian, as the former may help with the reconstruction of the latter. For instance, Holland Frisian and Hindeloopen Frisian are a match in terms of the retention of the Old Frisian ē as in the case of Hindeloopen Frisian and Holland Frisian leet. For this reason, *skeep may also be reconstructed for Holland Frisian based on Hindeloopen Frisian skeep, yet also *skiep (= *skiip in the Hindeloopen Frisian spelling of van der Kooy) may be reconstructed due to the ie/ee interchange in Holland Frisian. Hindeloopen Frisian wèèze and huus contrasted with Holland Frisian haus and wiesen (which are my benchmarks for South Frisian) show that Hindeloopen Frisian does not belong to the proposed South Frisian family, but fits into the West Frisian family. The same goes for Molkwerum Frisian. Hindeloopen Frisian belongs to a group of coastal Frisian languages which was closest to Holland Frisian and sea-faring may have sustained language contact between these Frisian coastal languages and Holland Frisian. The similarities between Hindeloopen Frisian, whose speakers were focused more on the sea than the hinterland, might be the result of language contact between Hindeloopen Frisian and Holland Frisian, and in later times between Hindeloopen Frisian and the North Hollandic languages in which Holland Frisian survived in the form Holland Frisian substrate. Namely, such language contact via the South Sea may have aided Hindeloopen Frisian in the retention of archaisms inherited from Old Frisian. Such a language contact scenario would confirm that the concepts of Western and Eastern South Sea Frisian might be useful for analysis.

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