Hindeloopen Frisian

Written by Dyami Millarson

Page intent: The aim of this page is to give a quick and simple overview or summation of issues and facts relating to the Hindeloopen Frisian language. As such, this page may hopefully serve as the internet’s introduction to Hindeloopen Frisian. To achieve this ambitious goal, the editing of this page will be strictly monitored for accuracy and revised for optimalisation of the page contents. Feedback in the comments is highly appreciated.

Hindeloopen Frisian, which is an official language of Operation X, is an archaic Frisian language spoken originally in Hindeloopen (coordinates: 52.9427° N, 5.4013° E), which is a city of less than 900 inhabitants. The indigenous name by which Hindeloopen Frisian is identified on our multilingual blog is Hielepes and articles in Hindeloopen Frisian may consequently be found by opening the languagedeath.com homepage and clicking on the category Hielepes in the menu that appears to the right of one’s computer screen when one has opened the homepage. Hindeloopen Frisian is closely related to Molkwerum Frisian. The Hindeloopen Frisians have their own idiosyncratic perspective with regards to their language, which will be further discussed here. The essential issues pertaining to the Hindeloopen Frisian perspective are Hindeloopen Frisian being provably old, Hindeloopen Frisian being spelled authentically, and Hindeloopen Frisian being an independent language. The official Operation X spelling of Hindeloopen Frisian, as seen in publications on the Operation X blog, is the van der Kooy spelling. The Operation X team studied Hindeloopen Frisian extensively in 2018. The total number of Hindeloopen Frisian speakers was estimated around 300 in the year 2018. The glottocode of Hindeloopen Frisian is hind1273. Operation X conducts research in Hindeloopen by cooperating with the community and seeking community approval and consent during the research process as much as possible. The aim is to decolonise Hindeloopen Frisian research so biases may be removed and native perspectives be explored. A similar respectful research approach as has been adopted for the Māori by researcher Joost de Bruin in New Zealand (outlined in Decolonising ourselves: language learning and Māori media) is used by Operation X for investigating the Hindeloopen Frisian speakers and their perspectives.

Table of Contents

Hindeloopen Frisian Indigenous Perspective

How do Hindeloopen Frisians View Hindeloopen Frisian?

When talking about a language, it is interesting for outsiders to know the indigenous perspective. The Hindeloopen Frisian speakers consider it vital that their perspective be heard. For these two reasons, we teach the indigenous perspective of the Hindeloopen Frisian speakers on this blog. The Hindeloopen Frisian indigenous perspective is as follows:

  • Hindeloopen Frisian is very archaic and has a written record spanning several centuries;
  • There are several spellings in use today but the authentic spelling of Hindeloopen Frisian is traditionally the van der Kooy spelling, as seen in his T. van der Kooy’s work De taal van Hindeloopen (the language of Hindeloopen);
  • Hindeloopen Frisian is a language, not a Frisian dialect.

Why Is Hindeloopen Frisian Very Archaic?

Hindeloopen Frisian is very archaic. It has not changed much since its earliest identifiable written records from tbe 17th century. Hindeloopen Frisian may hence be described as an isomorphic language, i.e., a language showing remarkable linguistic stability, continuation or conservatism such that it seems that its form (morphe) stays almost exactly the same (iso). Icelandic is a good example of linguistic isomorphism as well. The longest earliest texts of Hindeloopen Frisian stem from an anonymous 17th-century author, presumably Hilarides. The existence of these texts is well known among the Hindeloopen Frisians and has almost mythical status. These texts are, however, not the earliest. The earliest text is a short poem by Hoytema. Nevertheless, it is still correct to say the texts by Hilarides are the longest earliest texts, whereas they are adnittedly not the earliest texts.

Why Is the van der Kooy Spelling Authentic?

An essential issue for the Hindeloopen Frisian speakers is Hindeloopen Frisian spellings. To understand what is the authentic spelling of Hindeloopen Frisian, we need to understand the experience of the Hindeloopen Frisian speakers; for authenticity is ultimately an experience. However, before we do so, we must briefly delve into history. In 1937, T. van der Kooy’s monumental dictionary De taal van Hindeloopen (the language of Hindeloopen) was published. It is this work that Hindeloopen Frisians traditionally rely on as their reference for what they traditionally call the authentic spelling of Hindeloopen Frisian.

Many decades later in 1981, Hylper wurdboek was published with a title that was Shire Frisian and a spelling that looked Shire Frisian as well. The spelling of this book was never received among the Hindeloopen Frisian community as authentically Hindeloopen Frisian. The spelling of Graet Hylper Wordebook, which is a new Hindeloopen Frisian dictionary published in 2019, is based on the spelling of the 1981 dictionary. Leo Walda, with whom I spoke in Hindeloopen Frisian on the phone in 2019, commented on the title: ‘This new Hindeloopen Frisian dictionary says wordebook with an r in the title, but Hindeloopen Frisian has never (in my lifetime) had an r in that word. That spelling is absolutely ridiculous. The van der Kooy spelling is the authentic Hindeloopen Frisian spelling, that is how our language should be written.’

The Hindeloopen Frisian speakers traditionally value their ownness, distinctness, independence, and they have fostered uniqueness by placing value on this distinct folk character. The new spelling, as seen in Hylper wurdboek (1981) and Graet Hylper Wordebook (2019), is felt or experienced as too Shire Frisian from this perspective; it does not suit the traditional Hindeloopen Frisian spirit of independence and the fostering uniqueness through independence. The old spelling satisfies the Hindeloopen Frisian traditional spirit, and hence it is experienced by Hindeloopen Frisian speakers as authentic.

Since Operation X agrees with the traditional Hindeloopen Frisian notion that the van der Kooy spelling suits Hindeloopen Frisian the best, Operation X has adopted the van der Kooy spelling for all its Hindeloopen Frisian publications since 2018. In fact, the van der Kooy spelling is the official spelling of Hindeloopen Frisian in the Operation X organisation. When the issue of the spelling of Hindeloopen Frisian was put up to a vote on Skype by Operation X in 2018, the van der Kooy spelling won with an overwhelming majority and this enshrined the spelling as the undisputed official spelling adhered to by Foundation Operation X, which became officially registered in the Kingdom of the Netherlands as a foundation in the year 2020 and immediately proceeded to give official status to the van der Kooy spelling in the organisation.

Why Is Hindeloopen Frisian a Language?

Without consulting the Hindeloopen Frisian community and without consent from the community of Hindeloopen Frisian speakers, Hindeloopen Frisian has been labelled as a dialect; this has happened time and again to the ire and outrage of Hindeloopen Frisian speakers, who take great offence at their mother tongue being called a ‘Frisian dialect’ rather than a language, and therefore this mislabelling of Hindeloopen Frisian has to stop. Hopefully, our work can contribute to raising awareness:

Hindeloopen Frisian is a separate language from Shire Frisian, because Hindeloopen Frisian underwent its own separate development. Hindeloopen Frisian and Shire Frisian share a common source, but they split off at some point, just like Proto-Germanic split off around the Migration Period (fourth century AD). Language evolution is a good explanation for why Hindeloopen Frisian is a separate language.

As a consequence of the separate evolutionary history of Hindeloopen Frisian, Shire Frisians may not readily understand Hindeloopen Frisian. Diminished mutual intelligibility is simply a by-product of linguistic evolution. Dutch and German are to a certain degree mutually intelligible since they are related, but they are separate languages. On linguistic-historical grounds, it is equally undeniable that Hindeloopen Frisian is related to other Frisian languages, such as Shire Frisian, and that Hindeloopen Frisian is an independent language.

The fact that Hindeloopen Frisian is a language may be thus explained from the practical perspective of the foreign language learner: When you learn to speak Shire Frisian, you cannot speak Hindeloopen Frisian. Shire Frisian is not your golden ticket to speaking and writing Hindeloopen Frisian, since they are separate languages. So you have to learn Hindeloopen Frisian separately, as the Operation X team did.

Lastly, the Hindeloopen Frisian speakers themselves feel that they speak a separate language and the feelings of indigenous groups should be taken into consideration. Our aim is to inspire respect for the indigenous perspective of the Hindeloopen Frisian speakers.

Hindeloopen Frisian history is an important factor for explaining the feelings of the Hindeloopen Frisians: The Hindeloopen Frisians have a history of being an independent entity and their tradition of independence has given them a feeling that their language, culture and philosophy are distinct. One should not be tempted to discredit or ignore the Hindeloopen Frisian history; history plays a very important role for the Hindeloopen Frisian language, culture and philosophy.

In conclusion, there are three key reasons to keep in mind for why Hindeloopen Frisian is an independent Frisian language:

  • The separate historical evolution of the Hindeloopen Frisian language has to be taken into account;
  • The fact that one has to learn Hindeloopen Frisian separately in order to be able to speak and write it has to be taken into account;
  • The historical validity of the feelings of the Hindeloopen Frisian has to be taken into account.

Hindeloopen Frisian Learning Materials

How to Learn Hindeloopen Frisian?

How to learn Hindeloopen Frisian is one of the most frequently asked questions. That is why it felt to give this section the subtitle How to Learn Hindeloopen Frisian? For speakers of Dutch, the dictionary of T. van der Kooy is recommended by Operation X as learning material. A major advantage of this work is (1) that it is freely available, (2) that the language and spelling of this work are traditionally regarded as authentic Hindeloopen Frisian, and (3) that it is written in the official spelling of Operation X. The Operation X team has also used the dictionary of T. van der Kooy to learn the Hindeloopen Frisian language. If one speaks Dutch, one can simply study the Hindeloopen Frisian language by analysing all the lemmas and example sentences of the dictionary. Nevertheless, from the learner’s perspective, the Hindeloopen Frisian anthology in the back of T. van der Kooy’s dictionary and the pronunciation guide in the beginning of T. van der Kooy’s dictionary are essential sections. If I were to teach a Hindeloopen Frisian course right now, I would use the anthology as basis for my course. However, it ought to be borne in mind that the anthology contains texts that may be categorised as intermediate or advanced, whereas the example sentences included under the lemmas in the dictionary may be categorised as generally beginner’s level. The dictionary of van der Kooy meets the needs of beginners, intermediate learners and advanced learners.

Speakers of English will have to wait for Operation X English-language materials to be produced for the study of Hindeloopen Frisian.

Hindeloopen Frisian Phonology

How to Pronounce Hindeloopen Frisian?

According to van der Kooy, these are the approximate values of the vowels of the Hindeloopen Frisian language as represented in the van der Kooy spelling:

  • The short a is like /a/
  • The ä is /ɛ/-like
  • The aa is /a:/-like
  • The aaₑ is like /a:ə/
  • The ââ is /ã:/-like
  • The e is like /e/
  • The èₐ is like /ea/
  • The ee is like /e:/
  • The èè is like /ɛ:/
  • The éé is like /ɪ:/
  • The unaccented e is like /ə/
  • The i is like /ɪ/
  • The ie is like /ie/
  • The ii is like /i:/
  • The ò is like /ɔ/
  • The òò is like /ɔ:/
  • The ó is like /o/
  • The óó is like /o:/
  • The ö is like /œ/
  • The uu is like /y:/
  • The ú is like /ʏ/
  • The úú is like /ø:/

T. van der Kooy (1937: 24) comments there is a noticeable distinction between aa and ââ. T. van der Kooy (1937: 24-25) comments that /ə/ and /a/ as second elements of diphthongs are pronounced very quickly, which is to be expected from non-syllabic vowels in a diphthong.

The èₐ (or èa), which Hilarides and Roosjen already spelled with a as ea, should be described as èₒ (or èo): the second element is actually not a-like but o-like. Of course, one may argue it is /A/-like. Is èo, which is written as èa, actually èò or èó? I would say the latter because it is r-like: /Eo/. Since the /o/ is like /r/, this /o/-sound may have been the result of pharyngealisation of the r just like in Old English.

Why did van der Kooy choose to spell èₐ and not èₒ? Rather than for strictly phonetic reasons, this is for historical and practical reasons: (1) Hilarides and Roosjen already used a to represent this o-like sound, and (2) subscript a is perhaps more legible than subscript o but more importantly, subscript a relatively to subscript o is less easily confused with subscript e.

The exact transcription of ä is [æ].

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