Written by Dyami Millarson
Yesterday I returned to Tytsjerk – or ᚦᛁᚪᛏᛋᛖᚱᚳᛖ Thiatzercke as the Shire Frisians would say in the 14th century – to take pictures of landmarks.
I also managed to interview a local about the linguistic and cultural situation.
My previous article on Tytsjerk paid special attention to the history of Tytsjerk.
I rode the bicycle from Leeuwarden to Tytsjerk. The distance from the city centre of Leeuwarden to Tytsjerk is 9 kilometres.
The population of Tytsjerk has grown over the centuries. There were 1614 inhabitants in the year 2021 according to government statistics. That is a more than fourfold increase since the early nineteenth century. J. F. Martinet says on page 156 of the second volume of Het vaderland en het Verenigd Nederland (The Fatherland and the United Netherlands) that Tytsjerk had approximately 360 inhabitants in 1830.
There is a railroad running through the village. The old railway guard’s house can be seen across the railroad in the picture above. If you cross the railroad and then follow the road, you will eventually come across the church of Tytsjerk.
An interview with a local of ᚦᛁᚪᛏᛋᛖᚱᚳᛖ (Thiatzercke) or Tytsjerk allowed me to learn more about the linguistic and cultural situation.
Interview conducted entirely in Shire Frisian with an elderly lady near the church of Tytsjerk.
Q. Do people speak Frisian here?
A. Yes, people do speak Frisian here. It has always been so.
Q. How many people speak Frisian here? Can you give an estimate?
A. I think 80% of people can speak Frisian here.
Q. Were you born here?
A. Yes, I was born here.
Q. Is the local speech different from other places?
A. I do not know.
Q. Do people speak Clay Frisian or Wood Frisian here?
A. There are many different kinds of Frisian, but I do not know much about this.
Q. Are there any cultural activities here? How about local local traditions?
A. Not much anymore. Especially during these years since corona. We do have a community centre.
Q. Were there more cultural activities in the past?
A. Yes, of course, such as folk dancing, elderly care and gymnastics for the elderly. There were many activities for the elderly before.
Q. Do you know where the name Tytsjerk comes from? Is there any story about its origin?
A. I do not know much about history.
I found it wonderful to learn that Tytsjerk – the old Thiatzercke – traditionally is and still is a Shire Frisian enclave near Leeuwarden.
Shire Frisian is mostly spoken in villages. One will not hear it much in the big cities of Frisia. I do hear Shire Frisian occasionally in Leeuwarden, yet if one wants to hear Shire Frisian in Leeuwarden and not leave it to chance, one might go to the library Tresoar and the bookstore Afûk, where one will surely be able to hear spoken Shire Frisian in Leeuwarden.
The church of Tytsjerk was built in the 18th century. Before this new church was built, there had already been a church here since the Middle Ages as also the old placename suggests (see my previous article for more information on the Old Shire Frisian name of the village and its etymology).
H. M. C. van Oosterzee says on page 175 of the first volume of De Nederlandsche hervormde kerk (The Dutch Reformed Church) published in 1865 that the church of Tytsjerk was built in 1716.
The Shire Frisian text, which describes the statue, is not entirely legible anymore unfortunately and so I had to fill in the gaps. Here is my translation: “Small sailorwoman pulling a towing line (1982). This piece of art made from Belgian limestone by Anne Woudwijk from Drachten [is] a portrayal of a sailorwoman from the past pulling a towing line. Busy with her daily, hard work despite [weather] and wind, namely [by pulling] her boat through the Tytsjerk canal.”
The community centre of Tytsjerk called Yn ‘e mande, which means “in the community” or “in communal possession/use,” was founded in 1974. The Shire Frisian mande is related to Old Frisian ᛗᚪᚾᛞ (mand) or ᛗᚩᚾᛞ (mond). The variation between a and o is a phenomenon that also occurs in Old English.