Texelian Language Challenge

Written by Dyami Millarson

Skéép is the Texelian word for sheep. Texel is known as a skéépe-eilònd (sheep island).

I said in my article on the classification of Holland Frisian that I would take on a West Frisia North Hollandic language challenge on 1 September 2022. So I am starting my Texelian language challenge today (Texelian is the indigenous language of the island Texel). I will be using S. Keyser’s Texelian dictionary for this, which seeks to approach the Texelian language of around 1900 (see page 13 of Keyser’s dictionary).

Texelian is a very conservative West Frisia North Hollandic language. Keyser was of the opinion that Texelian was more Frisian than Hollandic. He based his conclusion on syntax and phonology. He also argued that Texelians are more Frisian than Hollandic in terms of lifestyle and customs. It is interesting to note that Keyser’s spelling of Texelian is similar to van der Kooy’s spelling of Hindeloopen Frisian. The impending death of Texelian was one of the motivations for Keyser to write his dictionary that was published in 1951. He believed that little would be left of Texelian around 2000 CE.

I was born on 19 May 1994. I lived in Amsterdam until I was about 3.5 years old. We moved to Driebergen-Rijsenburg in around 1997-1998. When I was about 2-3 years old (so around the year 1996-1997), which was still during the time I lived in Amsterdam, we visited the island Texel in the summer because friends had bought a vacation house there.

We went to buy eggs from a farmer one day. The farmer in question was a very old Texelian man – my father estimates him to have been between 75 and 80 years old at the time. He said to his wife: “Hè je nag eier?” (Dost thou still have eggs?) More than a quarter of a century has passed yet this short Texelian phrase was never forgotten; for it left a lasting impression.

Now in 2022, indeed more than a quarter century later, I intend to start a language challenge and learn Texelian of around 1900, which is Texelian as it was spoken in the youth of that old Texelian farmer, who, based on my father’s estimation of his age, must have been born somewhere between the early 1920s or late 1910s.

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