Mission Statement

Author: Dyami Millarson, Last updated: 3 August 2021

We learn the most exotic and fascinating languages of Europe. Our work involves chiefly minority languages. We are currently focused on the Frisian languages spoken in Europe.

There are 14 living Frisian tongues and we intend to study them all:

  1. Shire Frisian (Clay/Wood Frisian)
  2. Aasters and Westers (Terschellinger Fries)
  3. Hielpes (Hindeloopers, Hylpersk)
  4. Eilaunders (Schiermonnikoogs, Skiermûntseagersk)
  5. Sagelterland Frisian (Saterfriesisch, Seeltersk)
  6. Central Goesharde Frisian
  7. Northern Goesharde Frisian
  8. Halligen Frisian
  9. Heligolandic Frisian (Halunder)
  10. Karrharde Frisian
  11. Wiedingharde Frisian
  12. Sylt Frisian (Söl’ring, Sylterfriesisch)
  13. Bökingharde Frisian (Mooring)
  14. Föhr-Amrung Frisian (Fering/Öömram)

It is our life mission to learn the most endangered Frisian tongues ere they die out. We wish to keep the knowledge of these languages alive with our own efforts and we wish to transmit the knowledge of these languages to a new group of young people.

We do language challenges to gain attention for the variety of languages spoken in Europe today. The diversity of languages in Europe is a topic that is not yet frequently talked about in daily life and we wish to change that by studying and talking about these fascinating, exotic languages. We wish their voices to (still) be heard around the world!

When we learn any language, we believe that we are saving it. Articles written in various languages that we have learned frequently appear on our blog. We keep the knowledge of the languages alive this way.

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59 comments

  1. I had heard back when I studied linguistics in college that Frisian is actually the closest relative to English (other than “British English” heh heh). Is that so?

    (And I had no idea there were so many varieties of Frisian!)

    Liked by 6 people

    • Are you saying that Frisian is closer to English than say South African English? Surely “British English” is *the* English.
      How does one determine a “variety” of a language?
      Are all the Englishes spoken on different continents the same English or different varieties?

      Liked by 4 people

      • English is spoken in the USA; with a few variations from the UK; not better or worse just 240 later.
        Queen V. banned the Irish language and all Irish surnames. For example my name was originally Cuinn (Irish) but became Quinn for her majesty.

        Liked by 7 people

      • I heard the exact same thing when I got a Linguistics degree back in the day. There was also a notion circulating back then that differentiated mere dialects from distinct languages. Two spoken idioms were said to be mutual dialects (e.g. British English and U.S. English) if a child of 7 could understand the one while raised native in the other. Otherwise, the two spoken idioms were distinct languages. And it was said that Frisian (of which 1 was cited, not 14) was the closet language to English which was not merely another dialect. One Slavic linguist theorist was trying to formally quantify such matters back then but I do not recall his name.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Excellent question!

      The English-Frisian connection is popular in both the English-speaking and Frisian-speaking worlds.

      Historically speaking, English and Frisian may potentially be the closest languages to each other. However, the situation is more complicated when we look at the modern situation rather than the historical one:

      Since we may generally assume that the members of the same language family are the closest to each other, the answer to this question (if interpreted to be about the modern rather than historical situation) depends on whether one considers Anglic or English to be a language family.

      For instance, one may regard Scots as a separate language belonging to the Anglic/English language family. Of course, Scots is closer to English than English to Frisian. (One should bear in mind that Frisian – at least according to our foundation’s fieldwork – is a language family as well, not a single language.)

      In the modern setting, it might be better to rephrase the question: “What is the closest language family to the Anglic/English one?”

      The answer to that question is straightforward: the Frisian language family.

      Although the concept of an Anglo-Frisian language family has come under fire while being contested by some but not all researchers in recent years (by postulating a North Sea Germanic language family, though this does not by any means necessarily exclude an Anglo-Frisian subgrouping), there is merit to the concept of an Anglo-Frisian language family, to which both the English/Anglic and Frisian language families would belong:

      We are conducting Anglo-Frisian studies at our foundation, because we are studying the English/Anglic and Frisian language families side by side; regardless of what one thinks about the Anglo-Frisian language family, we believe the concept of Anglo-Frisian is useful for the comparison between English/Anglic and Frisian.

      We employ Anglo-Frisian as a comparative concept (to define Anglo-Frisian in a way that is agnostic as to the question whether the Anglo-Frisian language family is an accurate historical classification), because there are striking resemblances as well as fascinating differences between English/Anglic and Frisian; Anglo-Frisian studies are relevant since it is relevant to compare these languages.

      Our foundation’s priority is to focus on the modern situation (e.g., Frisian living languages) rather than the historical situation (e.g., Frisian dead languages). The modern situation has not been sufficiently studied in our view. At some point, we will also come around to study the historical situation in full depth, but as already indicated by our priorities, we wish to first get an accurate grasp of the modern situation before moving on to studying the historical one.

      Liked by 36 people

      • Nicely done, Dyami! It’s a rather tricky question sometimes to determine when something is a different “language” or language family vs. a dialect or creole or pidgin.

        Liked by 6 people

      • Thank you, it usually does help to study how speakers self-identify (i.e., do they regard themselves as a group speaking a distinct language?) and to closely observe their communication behaviours vis-à-vis related groups (i.e., is it comfortable for the related groups to communicate or is it too difficult for comfort?). I observed that groups such as East Terschelling Frisians, Hindeloopen Frisians and Schiermonnikoog Frisians regard themselves as distinct from all other Frisians, they have a very strong sense of identity based on their respective languages and they do not find it comfortable communicating in their languages with other Frisians who usually have trouble following them (and so the sense of discomfort/inconvenience is mutual). Some groups of Frisian-speaking communities are more closely related than others, for sure, but that does not mean they are necessarily speaking identical languages or share identical cultures for that matter. Frisian as a reality on the ground comprises a mosaic of languages and cultures, diversity of Frisian languages and cultures is the reality and any notion of unity is an antithesis of the reality that has existed after speakers of Old Frisian went their separate ways and split into various groups that evolved into communities with identities based around their own language and culture, ultimately derived from Old Frisian and although that is usually a distant memory, Frisian groups generally tend to remember their roots and if forgotten, they usually rediscover those roots through their interactions with other Frisian groups. I would say the Frisian linguistic and cultural landscape looks quite tribal, and this is correlated with the multitude of identities, which is what fascinates us about Frisians. Unfortunately, Frisians have often been studied and analysed one-dimensionally as though they only possess one language and one culture, which entirely misses the point of the actual diversity that is found in all regions that are Frisian-speaking. This reality persuaded us to approach all Frisian linguistic and cultural communities with equal interest and study them with equal zeal. In this way, we hope to highlight the actual situation as opposed to the fiction of unity or homogeneity that may exist in the minds of some analysts. The real situation is way too interesting to miss and we hope to enthuse others about it as well. We feel fortunate that we discovered the diversity of Frisian in our lifetimes and that we got the unique opportunity to study Frisian in all of its diversity and we definitely intend to keep make contrinutions to the preservation of this diversity as our foundation will act as a guardian for the continued active use of all these languages and the continued practice of their associated cultures.

        Liked by 15 people

    • I remember many years ago a feature on the UK children’s TV programme Blue Peter a piece about a visit to the Frisian Islands area by a group of people from East Yorkshire to take part in a dyke vaulting competition. What struck me was the fact that the people from East Yorkshire found they could understand far more than they expected to in the Frisian Islanders’ speech because their own dialect overlapped sufficiently. So Frisian varieties may indeed be close to British English but especially so in the varieties of English spoken along the eastern coast. It might be interesting to study patterns of shared vocabulary in Frisian and north eastern English varieties.

      Liked by 8 people

    • We couldn’t agree more, language is a gateway to wisdom and human connection. Learning various Frisian languages has definitely taught us valuable life lessons that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives and our Frisian studies have also brought us into contact with scores of people with whom we feel a deep spiritual connection thanks to our shared experience of speaking the same minority language. We surely wouldn’t have wanted to miss this unique experience in our lives!

      Liked by 8 people

  2. So, just curious: Is there an actual country or perhaps province of “Frisia” nowadays? My quick Google search indicates that there is indeed a geographical area so indicated but it’s not clear if it’s a sort of independent U.N.-recognized nation or a region that is politically part of another country.

    (And I can’t wait to nonchalantly drop this line into a casual conversation: “As you may know, groups such as East Terschelling Frisians, Hindeloopen Frisians and Schiermonnikoog Frisians regard themselves as distinct from all other Frisians…”) 🙂

    Liked by 8 people

  3. Great blog. To quote the ethnobotanist Wade Davis, “…language is not just a body of vocabulary or a set of grammatical rules, a language is a flash of the human spirit, its a vehicle through which the soul of each particular culture comes into the material world. Every language is an old growth forest of the mind, a watershed of thought, an ecosystem of spiritual possibilities.”

    Liked by 10 people

    • Operation X — you are fascinating! Do you have a place where we can actually hear the language being spoken? I found you because you first found me on my blog, and although I know nothing about Frisian (thanks for introducing it) I am constantly fascinated about the process of language learning.
      So, HOW do you learn Frisian?

      Liked by 4 people

    • For the Human to continue to grow and understand, we must continue with our historical nature. A huge part of this is to resurrect the forgotten or ancient languages and decipher their true meaning.
      When historical events, including language are rebirthed, we have a choice to clean up the mess we have created “NOW!”
      It is the wisdom that came first, we ought to never forget. There is venerable knowledge in the archaic ways, especially in language. We have lost meaning to life.

      Like

  4. This is mind challenging. I am still trying to grasp that the Australian indigenous peoples and their vast family and tribal identies are trying to reclaim their languages too. More than fifty, English now unites them where before even folk only a few miles down the road had a different language. Desert people and ones by the sea were totally different. What an amazing world! Thank you for your studies.
    on the diversity of European language,

    Liked by 6 people

  5. Fascinating. I had no idea when I clicked on the title I was going to learn something completely new to me even though the languages are concentrated a few miles away from me, across the English Channel.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. How interesting! Please forgive my ignorance on this subject but being the leader of an online gaming Guild we have a rather diverse group of friends, some of which include friends from the Netherlands & Belgium. I listen to them sometimes on voice comms poking fun at each other, in a friendly way, about the languages they each speak & how their ‘version’ is correct as opposed to someone else’s version. I am going to be very interested to learn if any of them actually use Frisian.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. This site and your work are FASCINATING. I have never learned anything beyond the most basic conversational level of French and Spanish. I have always been amazed by those who pursue and understand the intricacies of other languages. But minority languages. And to preserve them. Many kudos to Operation X. Your talents and abilities contribute vitally to our culture. They also provide someone like me, who is intellectually curious but like everyone else has limited time, something new, truly different, worthwhile, and fun to follow on the net. I know this is a long comment and, for that, I apologize. That said, thank you so much for your efforts. Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Love this! I just do not hear well enough to relearn my old French. I have been studying the periods of William the Conqueror from Normandy through Edward I of England. People, history, and language are all fascinating!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. That is quite a lofty mission. I studied modern languages at uni but I have only done the big European four – French, German, Italian and Spanish. Nothing as interesting as Frisian. Good luck 👍

    Liked by 3 people

  10. What a wonderful project – I’m so happy I stumbled upon this….actually you stumbled upon me first. I tell people I’m of Dutch heritage, but I am completely and fully Frisian. And yet, cannot understand, read or write the language – in any of it’s forms. My parents left Rotterdam in the 50’s and settled in Canada, but my Mom continued to speak Dutch at home. I was fluent, but I lost my Mom almost twenty years ago and have lost my language as well. When a language is not used, it dies. My Father always insisted that Fries was a bastardization of the ancient Celtic and German languages. I suppose the ancient celtic language had similarities to modern day (and ancient) English, and these languages too are slowly dying. I was lucky to be raised in a country with two official languages (English and French), and a close connection to “dutch” – but they are fading fast. I live in Australia now, so I’ve picked up a lot of “Ausiims” over the 25 years I’ve been here.

    I look forward to reading future blogs. I have an Uncle – Dirk van der Ploeg – who is considered an important Frisian writer and made it his life’s work to keep the language alive. I am always in search of one of his many novels translated to either dutch or english – I will continue my hunt.

    Best of luck with you studies and thank you for “finding” me! Monica Beaton (nee van der Ploeg) Adelaide Australia

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I like your mission statement and your ethos. I have been working to promote a minority language of Scotland – Scots – for many years. I’d love to have the opportunity to share some of my work with your readers – if you felt that would be appropriate.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Being very flexible is key because the learning materials for minority languages such as these are few, we do not have much to choose from and we really can’t be picky about our preferred methods. We tend to be satisfied with a decent grammar book, a dictionary and a corpus of texts, but that may already be too much to ask because these languages tend to be very poorly documented as people overlook them and erroneously consider them mere “dialects” that aren’t worthy of serious consideration.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Fortunately, our blog exists to prove that the seemingly impossible is possible. Since 2016, we have been producing original written materials in the languages that we have studied. We insist on originality with regards to our writings since that may demonstrate our mastery of the languages.

        Liked by 4 people

  12. I love linguistics! It boggles my mind how completely different languages developed during the same time period: why did one group decide to call somehing “x” and another group call it “$!)”. Enjoy your journey!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. My Grandfather emigrated to the U.S. from Friesland, as you might guess from my name. Since he died before I was born, the language I heard at family dinners was Dutch, my Grandmother’s language, but when my grandfather’s brother visited, he would talk to my grandmother, so I am fairly sure the Frisian of northern Netherlands was similar to Dutch. I grew up in a very small town where no foreign languages were offered, so by the time I got to college, that part of my brain seems to have been sealed off and I struggled with German and later with Amharic when I lived in Ethiopia. I now scrape by with my Spanish, since I’ve lived in Mexico for 20 years, but I have a great admiration for those with a facility in languages. Keep up the good work. My Grandfather would approve, I’m sure.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Never would I have imagined staring at letters and words whose meanings are so far beyond my grasp — and yet, finding myself utterly delighted! Absent any interest in attributing meaning, the experience is akin to viewing art without attempting to deduce what the artist is trying to say, and simply being mesmerized by the shape or hue of a brushstroke. Same as hearing music and simply letting it travel into and around your bones without any urge to intellectualize. Your blend of art and scholarship is captivating and visceral — no matter what the subject matter.

    Liked by 4 people

    • There has been a decades long effort to revive the Irish language once banned by Queen Victoria, with some success. Bilingual signs are everywhere, but English still prevails.. My last name was originally spelt CUINN and I published a longpoem in my book Newark, Italy and me (Lulu books 2019).

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Amazing and interesting facts. Have never heard of Frisian. Quite honestly, living in the States, there are so many different accents, many of which are very difficult at times to understand. For instance, in the South they say Ont, in the East we say Aunt. Accents are very much noticed here and quickly commented on, especially if you are in the West and just happen to be from the East, like New York City . I’m afraid I’ll have to stick with
    plain English. When spoken properly, I don’t think any other language surpasses it for beauty and clarity. Bob
    Marshall’s Poetry is proof of that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well done on learning a language — it’s excellent for keeping the brain alert and alive! I would love to know HOW you learn your languages. What system, what method do you go through to do so? Are you learning the SPOKEN language, or are you learning the written language, if there is any? Any tricks on language learning can by used by others learning other languages.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Fascinating – My husband’s from the far North of England – settled by Scandinavians over 1,000 years ago DNA found he’s over 60% Norwegian in origin – Older generations – speaking the local dialect – NE Cumbrian, could understand and be understood by Norwegians during WWII.

    Accent or intonation and speech patterns are fascinating too, but the schools I attended tried very hard to suppress regional accents. No flat Northern vowels allowed – but an Irish academic visiting our area named, correctly, the stretch of Ireland’s NW coast. my grandmother came from – ( carer from birth)

    Intonation, he explained, rather than ‘ accent’

    Liked by 1 person

  17. This is a very interesting project! In a French sociolinguistic class I learned about the many different local languages alive in France before French was instituted as the national language by the government. I wish you all the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. any command of any language is the hallmark of the keen mind. it is sad that this command has deteriorated in far too many, and this loss of command, welcomed by all those thirsting for power, has made it easier for the depots of the world to rise and thrive. keep up the good work. continue…

    Liked by 2 people

    • learning another’s language not only helps to communicate with a person, it shows respect to that person, and opens opportunities to the whole thinking culture based on that language. It offers the learner a broader environment in which to live, think, and enjoy. Learning another’s language means that I will never be the same again.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Such a fascinating project! I studied linguistics and history of the English language in college. The projects and assignments that we have conducted were an interesting dive for me. I hope to learn a lot here!

    Like

  20. Language has always fascinated me: my old Granny used and taught me & my brother so many old and wonderful words and phrases; it’s so sad that they aren’t being used much at all now so are dying out and our languages are becoming less able to explain exactly what we mean, they’re becoming impoverished.

    Here in the UK (as everywhere) there are countless local accents, dialects and particular words for things e.g. a discussion on Twitter recently was about what we call little alley-ways (not roads, only for pedestrians) between buildings – so much variety and wonderful words; in Brighton (UK) we call them ‘twittens’ but elsewhere people would have no idea what we’re referring to.

    I think we really must try to save these ‘invisible’ jewels (our colourful heritages) – and I think (I may be wrong) that the United Nations is trying to – including music/songs – I’ve found some really wonderful ones on Youtube = very enriching. We do NOT want everything to be the same everywhere – as is happening with globalisation. Thank you for what you (and others) are doing to protect and encourage diversity.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. It’s important to preserve minority languages, makes countries more interesting. What about the Celtic languages? Welsh (Brythonic) and Irish (goidelic/Gaelic)? Cornish and Breton (Brythonic; latter in northwest France), Scottish Gaelic and Manx (Goidelic). The main language groups of the Indo-European family being Germanic, Romanic, Slavic, Celtic, Greek, Baltic, Albanian, Armenian, Indo-Iranian. The Celtic group is one whole sub-family where all languages wherein are minority languages.

    Frisian is a West Germanic language family, closer to English than Dutch is. Dutch has some features common to German like the ge- before past participles. Don’t know anything about Frisian. Main thing is, regional and minority languages make places more interesting.

    Like

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