December 31, 2013

NIJJIER - "New Year"

With 2014 on the way, let's look at how to wish someone a Happy New Year in Frisian. As with English, the word nijjier is formed from the word for "new," nij, and the word for "year," jier.

Nij rhymes with the word "nigh" or "why." NIGH.
Jier sounds very much like the English word "year." YEE-uhr.
When said together with jier, the vowel in nij might sound like an "ee."

Lokkich nijjier!
Happy New Year!

Lokkich means "happy," "lucky," or "properous." It takes a long "oh" vowel as in the word "low" and a schwa in the second syllable. LOHk-uhg.

You can also say:

Segen yn 't nije jier!
Successes in the New Year!

Sege means "victory," "triumph," or "success." Say it with an "eh" as in "bet" in the first syllable and a schwa in the second. SEH-guh.

Remember that yn 't is short for yn it, "in the." Both of these words take a schwa. The shortened form takes one schwa. UHnt.

Nije has a schwa on the end in this phrase. NIGH-uh.

December 5, 2013

KEAR - "turn, time, times"

This entry is actually a bit sequential, following after the last lesson on elk and elts. Today, we turn to kear, a multi-faceted West Frisian noun that can mean "turn," "time," or "times," among many other things. What other things, you may wonder? Examples include: a stop or a detainment, a change, fields into which a pasture is divided, a card, or a cradle. Let's spare ourselves a headache and focus on one meaning at a time. (To make matters even more complex, there is a verb keare with its own set of meanings).

Kear appears in the famous song Wêr bisto ("Where Are You?") sung by Twarres:

Ik sjoch dy
Ik hear dy
Ik fiel dy, eltse kear opnij...


I see you
I hear you
I feel you, every time anew...


Ik is Frisan for "I" and is said with an "ih" as in the English "wick." IHK.

Sjoch takes the -ch- we've seen before, that throat-clearing sound heard in the German word Bach or the Hebrew l'chaim. The vowel is a rounded "oh" as in "boat," preceded by a gliding -y. SYOHkh.

Dy sounds like "dye," the same sound we often see with Frisian words spelled with an ei. Hear, it is an informal "you." Modern West Frisian, like many languages, distinguishes between the formal and informal "you." Remember that if you hear this word, it can also mean "day," but the spelling would by dei. DIGH.

Hear is said with an "ih" vowel and a schwa that may get somewhat buried in speech. It ends up sounding pretty close to the English word "hear." HIHr.

Fiel is conveniently pronounced like the English word "feel."

Eltse is the word you will remember from the previous lesson. Elts or elk mean "every" or "everyone." It takes the "eh" vowel heard in the English word "elk" and ends with a schwa. EHL-tsuh.

Kear is--like hear--pronounced with an "ih"  vowel and a schwa. KIHr.

Opnij is from the words op, meaning "on," "upon," or "up" and the word nij meaning "new." Say op with a round "oh" as in the English "hope" and say nij like the English "nigh." OHP-NIGH.

A quick observation on the title of the song: this can be a bit confusing when starting out, but some phrases taking the nominative form of the informal "you," do (pronounced like an English female deer) combine words and drop the d-. Wêr bisto would be wêr bist do, but it is shortened. Likewise, as do meaning "as you" becomes asto.

You can listen to the song and follow along with the lyrics here.

November 11, 2013

Everyone Likes Elk!


Everyone likes ELK!
If you have come across this blog by accident, you might still leave this site with at least one bit of modern West Frisian forever stuck in your head: elk, which is said like the English word for the large grazing animal, means "everyone" or "every."

You will also find the word elts in use. It is pronounced with the "eh" in "elk" and means the same thing.

We can see both elk and elts in use looking at Frisian Wikipedia's article on human rights. Here is an example from the article:

Elk hat rjocht om dingen yn eigendom te hawwen.
Everyone has the right to have property.

Hat means "he, she, or it has." It is said with a long "ah" as in "father." HAHt.

At the end of the sample sentence is the plural form of the same verb, hawwe, meaning "they have." This word takes a long "ah" as in "father" and a schwa on the end. HAH-vuh.

We have seen the word rjocht (old spelling rjucht) before in several posts. This word means “right," "straight," "law," or "direct." Say it with a long "oh" as in "road." RYOHcht.

Om was the subject of the very first lesson. It means "round," "for," or "at" and rhymes with the English word "roam." OHm.

Ding is the plural of ding, and has the same meaning as its English cognate, "thing." Say it like the English word, but with an initial d- instead of a th-, as in the sound of a bell being struck. DIHNG. The plural takes a schwa sound. DIHNG-uhn.

Yn means "in" and is said with a long "ee" so that it rhymes with "green." EEN.

Eigen is an adjective meaning "own." The -dom ending in West Frisian has an equivalent function its English twin, e.g., hartoch (a duke) and hartochdom (dukedom); frij (free) and frijdom (freedom). As a quick pint of interest, I'll note that frij is pronounced with the -igh sound in "might" or "eye." Likewise, eigen begins with an "igh" vowel and takes a schwa in the second syllable. Dom is said with a long "oh" as in the English word "dome." IGH-guhn-DOHm.

Te means "to," "at," or "in" and may be said with a schwa.

Here is another example from the same link, this time with elts:

Elts hat rjocht op in iepenbier proses.
Everyone has the right to public process.

I'll finish by noting that iepenbier is related to the word iepen, meaning "open." Say it with an initial long "ee" as in "week," followed by a schwa. The middle part of the word takes a schwa. The final part of the word repeats the "ee" followed by a schwa combination. EE-uh-puhn-bee-uhr.

November 2, 2013

FERSKIL - "difference"

Let's return to our regular lessons and look at the word ferskil. Say it with an initial "eh" like in English "error" and with a final "ih" as in the English "skill." FEHR-skihl.

Here is a very useful West Frisian phrase that uses the word ferskil:

Hokker ferskil is der tusken  ___ en ___?
What difference is there between  ___ and ___?

Hokker means "what?" and is said with a long "oh" as in "hope" and with a schwa in the final syllable. HOHk-kuhr.

Is means "is" and is said much like its English twin.

Der means "there" and takes a short schwa, with the -r pretty much serving as the "vowel." You will also see the word dêr, which has a longer "eh" vowel and can mean, "there," "who," or "that," or "over there."

Tusken was discussed in this previous article. It means "between." The first vowel is pronounced with a purse-lipped "o" with an umlaut over it. The second syllable takes a schwa. TÖSKuhn.

En means "and." It is said with an "eh" like in "end" or an "ih" as in "bin."

Now that we know the basic phrase, let's try it out in a complete sentence:

Hokker ferskil is der tusken de dialekten fan Noard-Hollân en it Frysk? 
What difference is there between the dialects of North Holland and Frisian?

Dialekten is a cognate meaning "dialects." Say the first part with a long "ee" as in "see" followed by a long "ah" as in "father. Pronounce the middle syllable with an "eh" as in "beck" and end with a schwa. DEE-AH-lehk-tuhn.

Fan has been discussed many times before. It sounds like the English word "fawn" and means "of," "by," or "from." Remember that older sources such as P. Sipma's book may spell it fen.

Noard is West Frisian for "north." I don't have an exact transcription on it, but I believe that it should be said it with a long "oh" like in the Engish word "no," followed by a schwa. NOH-uhrd.

Hollân is "Holland." Sometimes in English we mistakenly use Holland as a "synonym" for the Netherlands (which includes territories in the Caribbean). Please do not do this. It would be as silly as using "California" as a synonym for the western United States. In any case, this is another word I do not have the transcription for right now. My best guess is that the first syllable takes a long "oh." We've seen the second syllable before, though. Lân is the Frisian word for "land," which is pronounced like the English word "lawn." HOHL-lahn.

It means "the" or "it" and is pronounced with a schwa. UHt.

Frysk, of course, is Frisian for "Frisian." It takes a long "ee" as in "seek." FREEsk.

October 23, 2013

DE WÂLDSANG - "The Forest Song" - Part IV (Third Verse)

This is the final verse of De Wâldsang. The short style of these last few posts has been something of a convenient diversion (for me, at least). I will be returning to more detailed Frisian lessons now that the song has been fully translated. You can see the previous verse here.

Fryske bewenners hawwe de Wâlden...
Frisian residents have the forest…

Fryske - “Frisian.” FREEs-kuh.
Bewenners - “residents, inhabitants.” BUH-veh-nuhrs.
Hawwe - “they have.” HAH-vuh.
De - “the.” DUH.
Wâlden - “forests.” VAHL-duhn.

Hja libje froed en from, sljocht binn' se en rjocht.
They live modestly and piously, simply in their rightness.

Hja - “they.” HYAH.
Libje - “to live.” LIHb-yuh.
Froed - “modest.” FROO-uhd.
En - “and.” EHN.
From - “pious, devout, reverent.” FROHm.
Sljocht (old spelling sljucht) - “smooth, simple.” SLYOHcht.
Binn’ se - “they are.” BIHN SUH.
Rjocht (old spelling rjucht) - “right, straight, law.” RYOHcht.

Eang fan útwrydskens, gol en ienfâldich...
Avoiding flamboyance, frank and humble...

Eang - "afraid, anxious." IH-uhng.
Fan - "of, by." FAHN.  
Útwrydskens - "exceptionality, flamboyance." EET-vreed-skuhns.
Gol  -  “frank, open-hearted.” GOHL.
En - “and.” EHN.
Ienfâldich - “simple, humble, uncomplicated, straightforward.” EE-UHN-FAHL-duhg.

Altyd deselde, wêr't men se sjocht.
Forever the same, wherever people see them.

Altyd - “always, forever” AHL-teed.
Deselde - “the same.” DEH-SEHL-duh. Selde means “same.”
Wêr - “where.” VEHr.
 ’T (short form of it) - “the, it.” UHt.
Men - “one, a person, they, people, you.” MUHn.
Se - “they, she.” SUH.
Sjocht – “see, look, watch.” SYOHcht. 
 

October 3, 2013

DE WÂLDSANG - "The Forest Song" - Part III (Second Verse)

My move is done and it is time to return to having fun with Frisian! As mentioned in the previous post, I'd like to take a quicker look at the second and third verses of De Wâldsang. Remember, you can read the full lyrics here.

Please bear with these next few entries: I'm just going to give cut-and-dry vocabulary words with their approximate pronunciations. I'll be returning to more regular lessons after these posts. As usual, any errors are my own; feel free to comment if you would like to share a correction.

Maaimoanne' pronkseal binne de Wâlden...
The forest makes a noble show in May...

Maai - "May." MIGH-yuh.
Moanne - "month, moon." MOH-ah-nuh.
Pronkje - "make a show, parade" PROHn-kyuh. The word in the song, pronkseal, possibly combines the work pronk (the noun "show") with the word eal, meaning "noble." IH-uhl.
Binne - "are." BIHN-nuh.
De - "the." DUh. 
Wâlden - "forests." VAHL-duhn.

't Hôf klaaid yn bloeiselwyt, geal sjongt en slacht...
The courtyard is clothed in white blossoms, the nightingale sings and claps/flaps...

It (short-form 't) - "the, it." UHt.
Hôf - "garden, court." HAWF (rhymes with the English "off").
Klaaid - "clothed." KLIGHd.
Yn - "in." EEn.
Bloeisel - "blossom." BLOY-suhl
Wyt - "white." VEEt.
Geal - "nightingale." GIH-uhl.
Sjongt - "he, she, it sings." SYOHNGt
En - "and." EHN.
Slacht - "he, she, it beats/claps." SLAHkht (the Frisian -ch- is said like the "ch" in German or in the Hebrew word "l'chaim")

Kijkes yn't finlân rinne te weidzjen... 
The cows in the fens go to the pathways...

Kijkes - KIGH-kuhs.
Yn't - short for yn it, "in the." EENT.
Finlân - "fen lands." FIHN-LAHN.
Rinne - "they walk, go." RIHN-nuh.
Te - "to." TUH.
Weidzjen - "pathways." VIGHd-zyuhn.

't Nôt weag't it fjild oer, swiid is de pracht.
The grain waves over the field, gentle is its magnificence.

It (short-form 't) - "the, it." UHt.
Nôt - "grain." NOHt.
Weag't - "he, she, it waves." VIH-uhg.
It - "the, it." UHt.
Fjild - "field." FYIHLD
Oer - "over." OH-uhr.
Swiid (swiet)- "gentle, soft, sweet." SWEE-uht.
Is - "is." IHs.
De - "the." DUh.
Pracht - "magnificence." PRAHkht (see the note on the Frisian -ch- above).

Part II in this series is available here.
Part IV, the third and final verse, is available here.  

September 8, 2013

DE WÂLDSANG - "The Forest Song" - Part II

This is the second entry about the first verse of De Wâldsang. Part I is available here. The last lesson provided a link of Anneke Douma singing the song. Her pronunciation does vary a bit from the pronunciations I gave in the previous post. If you wish to hear another version of De Wâldsang that follows the first lesson more closely, start the Keallepoaten YouTube video at 3:05. 

Note that the r is rolled in Frisian.

Let's finish up with first verse! I'm planning to post shorter entries on the next two verses, but I am also in the middle of moving. So, this may take some time.

Blier laitsjend boulân, tierige greiden…
Merry laughing farmland, healthy grassland…

Blier means merry and is said with a look “ee” as in “leek” followed by a schwa. BLEE-uhr.

Laitsje means “to laugh” and is said with the same vowel combination in “light.” The ending takes a schwa. LIGH-tsuh.

Boulân is the word for farmland. It is said with the "ow" sound in the verb "bow" or, better yet, the English word "plough" (which can help with memorization). Lân means “land” and sounds like the English word “lawn.” According to P. Sipma, bou by itself means pasture-land. BAU-lahn.

I have to make an educated guess for tierige, as I cannot find a direct translation in any of my Frisian language resources. I believe that it means “healthy.” It is said with a long “ee” sound as in the English word “tear,” followed by schwas in the final syllables. TEEuhr-uh-guh.

Greide means grassland. It said with the same vowel in “ride” or “light”: think of riding through the grasslands. The second syllable takes a schwa in the singular and plural forms. GRIGH-duh, GRIGH-duhn.

Sjongende fûgels, sânnich de grûn…
Singing birds, sandy ground…

Sjonge means “to sing”. It is said with a -y- gliding into a long “oh” as in “lone.” In sjongende, the final two syllables take a schwa. SYOHN-guh-duh.

Fûgel is West Frisian for “bird.” Say the first syllable with the long "oo" sound in "flew" or "food." and with a shwa in the second syllable. FOO-guhl.

Sân means "sand" (or "seven" in other contexts). 

De means "the" and is said with a schwa.

Grûn means "ground." It is said with the long "oo" in moon. GROOn.

Part I in this series is available here.
Part III, the second verse, is available here.

August 28, 2013

DE WÂLDSANG - "The Forest Song"

After my summer vacation, I'm in the mood for another song. "De Maitiid" was nice enough, but it is time to expand our Frisian musical repertoire. Let's take a look at "De Wâldsang" by Harmen Sytstra.

You can read the lyrics here (however, some of the spelling there is old-style) and listen to Anneke Douma singing the song here.

Wâld is West Frisian for "forest." Say it with an initial v- and a long "ah" as in "father. VAHLD. The plural -en ending is said with a schwa. VAHLD-duhn.

Be careful not to confuse the word for "forest" with wrâld, meaning "world." VRAHLD. You can refer back to their English equivalents to keep them straight: the woods are in the wild. Meanwhile, "world" has an -r- in it just like its Frisian cousin.

Sang is a cognate meaning "song." Pronounce it with the long "ah" as in "father" so that it sounds a lot like the English word "song"--not like English "sang"!

I'll start off translating the first few lines for now.

Moai, sûnder wjergea binne de Wâlden...
The forests are the most beautiful, without equal...

Moai is a word we've seen before, in a previous musical lesson. It means "beautiful," "nice," or "lovely" and is said with the "oy" ending heard in the English "joy." MOY.

Sûnder means "without." Say it with the long "oo" in "moon" and with a schwa in the second syllable. SOONduhr.

Wjergea, as near as I can piece together, means "equal." P. Sipma's text from 1913 was the most helpful source that I could find for translating this word, under his entry wjergeade. Say the first syllable with an initial v- followed by a -y- gliding into an "eh" as in "vet". The second syllable takes an "ih" as in "bit" followed by a schwa. VYEHr-gih-uh.

Binne means "are" and has a nice, straightforward pronunciation. Say it just like the English word "bin" followed by a schwa. BIHN-nuh.

De means "the" and takes a schwa. DUH.

Smûk skaadzjend beamtegrien oeral yn't rûn.
The snug/pleasant shadows of the trees' green are everywhere about.

Smûk is said with a long "oo" as in "moon," but the meaning is going to be an educated guess: my best hypothesis at this time is that it means "snug," but please send me a correction if this is in error. I also found a loose Dutch translation indicating that it might mean "pleasant." SMOOk.

Skaad is West Frisian for "shade" or "shadow." Say it with a particularly long "ah" as in "father." In older sources such as P. Sipma's glossary, it is spelled skaed. SKAAHd.

Beamte means "trees" or "a cluster of trees." It is pronounced with a -y- gliding into an "eh" as in "Emma" (or "Thames" if you are feeling British). The final syllable takes a schwa. BYEHm-tuh.

Grien is a nice, convenient cognate. It means "green" and is said very much like its English equivalent, except that there is a schwa after the long "ee" vowel. GREE-uhn.

Oeral means "everywhere." Say the first part with an initial "oo" as in "moon" and a schwa. Finish it with the open vowel you hear in "pot" or "aught"--that is, like the English word “soulless” with the s- dropped and shorter –ou- sound. OOuhr-OL

Yn is said with the long "ee" vowel in "seen." It means "in."

Remember that it, the Frisian word for "the" or "it," sometimes gets shortened to 't. The full word is said with a schwa, rhyming with the English word "cut."

Finally, rûn means "round," "around," or "about." Say it just like the English word "rune," with a long "oo" vowel. ROON.

Part II is available here.

July 29, 2013

GAURIS - "a lot, often" / Frisian Tongue-Twisters

I would like to thank "The History of English Podcast" for recommending "Fun With Frisian" at the end of Episode 28: Angles, Saxons, Jutes & Frisians. The kind mention certainly made this blogger's day! Tanke wol!

Today, we'll look at the word gauris, which can mean " a lot," "often," "frequently," "much," or "commonly." It is pronounced with the "ow" diphthong in "gown" and takes a schwa in the second syllable. GAURuhs.

Let's look at gauris in a sentence from Frisian Wikipedia:

In tongbrekkerssechje is in wurd, of in sin, dêr't de útspraak gauris problemen fan jaan kin.
A tongue-twister is a word or a phrase that can frequently cause problems with pronunciation.

You can follow the link to the article to see some Frisian tongue-twisters.

In means "a" or "an" and is said with a schwa. UHn.

Tongbrekkerssechje breaks down into three parts. Tong is from the word for "tongue," tonge, and is pronounced with a long "oh" as in "tone. TOHNG. Brekke means "to break." The first vowel is an "eh" as is "wreck," and the second syllable takes a schwa. BREHK-kuh. Finally, sechje means "saying" or "proverb." As closely as I can figure out from examining similarly spelled words, it would be pronounced with an "eh" followed by a  -k- and it ends with a schwa. Remember that a Frisian j is pronounced like an English -y-. SEHK-yuh.

Wurd means "word" in this context. It is said with the purse-lipped "o" with an umlaut over it that is found in German, and the initial consonant is a v-. The -r- sound may sometimes get dropped. VÖRD.

Of is the word for "or." Say it with the shorter "o" heard in"dot" or "pot" so that it sounds rather like the English word "off."

Dêr means "who," "that," or "there." Here we see it in a contraction with it. We can translate this contraction, dêr't, as "where" or "in which." It takes the "eh" vowel in the English word "there." DEHRt

The word útspraak means "pronunciation." Say it with an "ee" sound on the first syllable and a long "ah" as in father. EET-sprahk.

Sin has a few meanings, including "phrase." Say it just like the English word "sin," which is actually not one of its modern meanings. The Frisian word can also mean "longing" or "desire" and is comparable to its German cognate, Sinn.

Jaan means "to give." It is pronounced with a particularly long "ah" as "yawn" or "father." YAHN. Note that it is under jaen (old spelling) in P. Simpa's glossary.

Fan has various meanings, including "of" or "by." Say it like the English word "fawn."

Kin means "can," "may," or "is able to." It is said with a short "ih" just like the English word is looks like, "kin."

July 23, 2013

TSJIN - "against"

Tsjin is another common and useful word to know. It means "against" and is pronounced with an initial ts- as is "tsar," and with a -y- blending into an "ih" as in "gin." TSYIHn.

Today's example comes from Omrop Fryslân. Omrop means "a broadcast channel," and it literally breaks down as a combination of the word om discussed in the very first lesson and rop meaning "call" or "cry." Say rop with a long "oh," like the English word "rope." The West Frisian word for Friesland, Fryslân, has been discussed previously here.

Fryslân nimt maatregels tsjin de waarmte.
Friesland takes measures against the heat.

You can click this link to hear the sentence in the introduction to the full newscast.

Here is the breakdown for today's lesson:

Nimt is from the infinitive verb nimme, a word which can have many meanings, among them "to take," "to get, acquire, or attain," " to engage," or "to adopt." The infinitive is said with an "ih" as in "brim" and a final schwa. NIH-MUH. The third-person form is said with an "ih" vowel as well.

Maatregels means "measures." Say it with a long "ah" as in father, an "ey" as in "ray," and final schwa. MAHt-rey-guhls.

As always, de means "the" and takes a schwa.

Waarmte is a nice, convenient cognate. Say it with an initial v- followed by a long "ah" as in "father" and a final schwa. If you listen to the beginning of the broadcast, notice that the -r- is more rolled than it is in English. VAHRM-tuh.   

As a bonus, hjoed means "today" as is said with a long "oo" as in "mood." You can hear how the initial h- is hardly said at all. In P. Sipma's book, the pronunciation is likewise given as starting with an initial y- followed by an "oo" and a schwa. YOO-uhd.

July 12, 2013

DAT BRÛKT WURDT – “is used for”

Today we’ll look at the word brûkt, which shows up in some common phrases in modern West Frisian. Brûkt is pronounced with a long “oo” sound like in “moon.” BROOkt.

P. Sipma gives one example of its use on page 76. Remember that he often spells Frisian words differently, as his text is a hundred years old. I’ll stick to modern spellings here:

…dat brûkt wurdt…
…is used for…

Dat means “that” or “which” and is pronounced like the English word “dot.”

Wurdt sounds a lot like the English “word” with a more rounded vowel and a –t on the end, indicating the singular third-person of the verb wurde (old spelling: wirde)  “to be” or “to become.”

This phrase can be followed by different prepositions, including foar. Foar means “for” and is pronounced with a long “oh” as in “foe” and a full “ah” as in “father. FOH-AHr.


In grut part fan it Nederlânske transportrjocht dat brûkt wurdt foar rederijen en skippen is regele yn Boek 8 fan it Boargerlik Wetboek.
A large part of the Netherlands’ transport law that is used for ferries and ships is codified in Book 8 of the Civil Lawbook.

Remember, in means “a or “an” and is said with a schwa. UHn.

Grut means “big” or “important” and is said with something similar to an “oo” as in “moon,” perhaps with more pursed lips though. GROOt.

Fan is pronounced like the English word “fawn” and means “of” or “from.”

It means “the” or “it” and is said with a schwa. UHt.

I’m making an educated guess here on Nederlânske: an “ey” as in “neighbor,” a schwa, a long “a” as in “father,” and another schwa. NEY-duh-LAHn-skuh.

Rjocht means “law” or “right” (as in both the direction and being right). In older texts such as P. Sipma’s book, you may see it spelled rjucht, but it is always pronounced with a -y- followed by a full “o” as in “road.” It also takes the harsh “ch” (which actually sounds a bit more like a -k than an English -ch) found in the German “Bach” or Hebrew “l’chaim.” RYOHkht.

Another educated guess for rederij: an initial “ih” as in “rid,” a schwa, and a final “ey” as in “hay” or “ray.” RIHd-duh-rey. The plural ending -en takes a schwa; I’m sure of that much at least.

Remember that en means “and” and is said with a schwa. UHn.

We’ve looked at skip before. It is a cognate of “ship,” and it sounds like the English word “skip.” The plural takes a schwa on the second syllable: SKIHp-pun.

Recall that is is the same in Frisian and English.

More educated guesswork: regele would likely take a long “ey” as in “neighbor” followed by schwas in the other syllables.

Yn means “in” and is said with a long “ee” as in “green.” EEn.

Boek is a cognate, the Frisian for “book.” It is said with a long “oo” as in “boo!” or “fluke.” BOOk

The Frisian word for "eight" is acht. Pronounce it with an "ah" as in father and the "kh" sound in "Bach" or "l'chaim." AHkht.

Boargelik shows up in the phrase boargelik rjocht, meaning “civil law.”  Boarger itself means a “citizen” or a “burgher.” Say it with a long “oh” as in “boat,” a full “ah” as in “father,” and with a schwa in the final two syllables. BOH-ahr-guh-luk.

Wet is another word for “law.” It is said just like the English word “vet.”

June 11, 2013

WAPEN - "coat of arms"

It wapen fan Fryslân is in blau skyld mei twa gouden liuwen boppe elkoar...
The coat of arms of Friesland is a blue shield with two golden lions on top of each other... 

The Coat of Arms of Friesland: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Friesland_wapen.svg

  
Today's lesson comes from an article about the coat of arms of Friesland, courtesy of the Frisian-language version of Wikipedia.

It means "it" or "the" and is said with a schwa: UHt.

Wapen can mean a “coat of arms,” “emblem,” or “weapon.” Say it with a v- at the beginning, a long “ah” as in “father,” and with a schwa in the final syllable. VAHP-uhn.

Fan can mean "of" or "by," and it shows up in many contexts. Say it like the English word "fawn." You can read a bit more about this word in a previous post.

Fryslân is said with a long “ee” in the first syllable and accent on the first syllable. The second part of the word means "land" and is pronounced like the English word "lawn." FREES-lahn. This is the name for Friesland, a province in the Netherlands. 

Is is the same as its English twin.

Blau is a word we have seen before and is a cognate with its English equivalent “blue.” The vowel is similar to the sound in the English word “vow” or “loud.” Be careful to keep the -a- long, somewhere between the “ah” in “father” and the “o” in the word “pot.” BLAU.

Skyld means “shield.” Say it with the same long “ee” vowel we hear in this word’s English near-twin. SKEELD. It is not unusual for an sh- in certain English words to be paralleled by an sk- in their Frisian cognates. E.g, skip  is the Frisian for “ship” and is said with an “ih” sound, just like its English equivalent. SKIHP.

Mei is the West Frisian word for "with." It sounds like the English “my.” MIGH.

Twa is a cognate meaning "two." Say it with a  -w- and an extra-long “ah” as in “father." TWAAH.

Gouden means “golden” and is pronounced with the same vowel in blau  followed by a schwa in the second syllable. GAUD-uhn. The Frisian for “gold” itself is gaud. GAUD. Again, be careful not to let the vowel morph into the higher, cut-off -a- as in “cat” that is common in American English.

Liuwen means “lions.” Say it with a y- followed by a long “oo” (just like the English word “yew”), then a -w-, and with a schwa in the second syllable. LYOO-wuhn. But what if we had only one lion? That would be liuw in Frisian. LYOO.

Boppe is Frisian for “above” or “on top.” It is said with a long “oh” as in “boat” and with a schwa on the end. BOHP-puh.

Finally, elkoar is one word for “each other.” The stress is on the second syllable. The first syllable is said just like the English word “elk” and the second part of the word takes a long “oh” as in “boat” and a schwa. Elk-OH-uhr.

For even more fun with Frisian, I’ll attempt a loose translation of the entire article:

“The coat of arms of (the province of) Friesland is a blue shield with two golden lions on top of each other, bordered with seven horizontal golden blocks, where two are in the top area, two are between the lions, and three are under the lions.

The coats of arms is normally displayed with a five-pronged crown atop the shield, and with two golden lions holding the shield, all standing on green edging.
 

It is not known what the lions stand for. What is accepted is that the number of blocks has significance, denoting the federation of “Seven Sealands” (the districts that form the province of Friesland).
 

The origin of the coat of arms of Friesland is not clear. However, this version was adopted in 1830 as the emblem of the Frisian Society. At the end of the 19th century, a banner of the coat of arms was popular as the flag of Friesland until the modern-day Frisian flag arose. Since February 11, 1958, it has been the official coat of arms of Friesland.”

May 29, 2013

GRINS - "border"

Grins is the West Frisian word for "border" or "frontier" and is said with an "ay" like in "day." It sounds a lot like the English word "grains." GRAYns.

In grins tusken twa gebieten.
A border between two areas.

We've looks at in before, meaning "a" or "an." Say it with a schwa. UHn.

Tusken means "between." The first vowel is pronounced with that purse-lipped "o" with an umlaut over it that we saw back in the lesson on dandelions. The second syllable takes a schwa. TÖSKuhn.

Remember, twa means "two" and was discussed a few lessons ago. TWAAH.

Finally, gebiet is the word for "region," "area," or "country." The first syllable is said with a schwa. The second syllable is said with a long "ee" as in "beet" with a schwa after it. GUH-BEE-uht. The plural ending -en is also pronounced with a schwa. GUH-BEE-uht-uhn.

May 22, 2013

GRAACH - "willingly, readily, heartily"

Let's look at a few basic polite phrases today.

As some readers may know, tanke wol is "thank you" in West Frisian. Say tanke with an "ah" as in "father and a schwa. TAHNkuh. The word wol was discussed in more depth previously and means "well" or "willingly" (it can also mean "wool"). Say it with a full "oh" as in "road" and a v- at the beginning. VOHL, like the English word "vole."

The English phrase "you're welcome" is graach dien in FrisianGraach  (listed under graech in P. Sipma's glossary) is pronounced with a particularly long "ah" as in "father" and a final consonant that is similar to a -g in English. GRAAHg. This word has many meanings, including "willingly," "please," "eagerly," "gladly," "preferably," "openly," and "rather."

Dien means "completed," "done," "over," or "ready." Say it with a long "ee" as in "dean" and with a slight schwa after. DEE-uhn.

And on this note: many thanks to Mama Lisa for linking to this blog from her website! If you do know more about the song De Maitiid, please be sure to contact her.

May 10, 2013

KEAL - "calf" / "When Pigs Fly"

Keal is pronounced with an "ih" as in "bit" followed by a schwa.  KIH-uhl. This word shows up in the Frisian equivalent of "when pigs fly"... instead of pigs flying, we have calves dancing on ice!

As de keallen op it iis dûnsje
When calves dance on ice... i.e., never 

Remember from the previous lesson, as is pronounced a lot like the English "Oz" and means "if," "as," or "when."

De means "the" and is said with the schwa sound.

Keallen (KIH-uhl-uhn) is the plural of calf. You can see it used here on Youtube as the title of the music recording we were looking at in previous lessons. Keallepoaten means "calves' legs." Poat is the singular form of "leg" and is said with a full "oh" as in "boat" and a schwa. POH-uht-tuhn.

Op is a quintessentially Frisian word and shows up all over both by itself and as a prefix. It means "on," "upon," "up", etc. You can see a list of its many meanings here. Say it with a full "oh" as in "boat" or, better yet, "slope." If you think of being on or upon or going up a slope, it is easy to remember this word. OHp

It is said with a schwa and means “the” or “it.” UHt.

Iis means "ice" and is said with a long "ee" as in "creek" (a frozen one) and a very soft -z on the end. EEz.

Dûnsje is said with a full "oo" as in "moon" and a -y- followed by a schwa on the end. DOONSyuh.

April 30, 2013

DE MAITIID - A Frisian Song - Part III

This is the third and final post about the children’s song, “De Maitiid.” To conclude, let’s look at one of the verses that was not translated on Mama Lisa’s website.

As twa jonge minske-herten troch de leafe bin ferbûn…
As two young human hearts are bound through love…

As is pronounced much like “Oz,” as in the Emerald City thereof. It means “as,” “when,” or “if.”

Twa looks very much like what it means in English: “two.”  Say it with a  -w- and an extra- long “ah” like in “father," rather like the first syllable of the word “twaddle.” TWAAH.

Jong is pronounced with a full “oh” as in “row” or the exclamation “oh!” It too is a cognate, this time meaning “young.” YOHNG.

Minske was discussed just below in Part II.

Hert means “heart” and is said with the “eh” sound in “wear”… think of “wearing your heart on your sleeve” to remember the vowel. HEHrt.

Troch is West Frisian for “through.” It is a very common word and is quite useful to know. Say it with an “oh” like in “row” and the harsh “ch” in the German “Bach” or Hebrew “l’chaim!” TROHch.

To review, de means “the” and is said with a schwa.

Leafde gives us another example of spellings changing over the past century: it is under ljeafde in P. Sipma’s glossary. Leafde, however, is the correct modern spelling. This is the word for “love,” and it is said with an “ih” vowel as in “bit” followed by a schwa, with another schwa on the end. LihUHv-duh.

My best guess on bin is that it is a conjugation of the verb “to be.” In any case, it sounds just like the English word it looks like.

Ferbûn is from ferbine, which means “to connect” or “to bind.” Say it with an “eh” in the first syllable and a full “oo” as in “moon” in the second syllable. FEHR-boon.

En it houlik wurd besletten ‘t grutte libben wurd begûn
And the wedding establishes (that) a great life has begun

Remember, en means “and”; it is pronounced with an “eh” as in “pen” or “ih” as in “pin.” EHn. Also recall that it is said with a schwa and means “the” or “it.” UHt.

Houlik is the modern West Frisian word for “wedding” or “marriage.”

Wurd sounds a lot like the English “word” with a more rounded vowel and means “be” or “become” in this context. It is from the verb wurde (old spelling: wirde) “to become” or “to be.” Wurd as a noun is the West Frisian word for “word.”

Besletten means “establish.” The first syllable takes a schwa, the second an “eh” as in “let,” and the last syllable another schwa. BUH-sleht-uhn. As a side note, words beginning in be­- in modern Frisian are sometimes spelled beginning with a bi- in Sipma’s glossary.

As discussed in the very first lesson, ‘t is a short form for it, pronounced with a schwa.

Grut (or grutte) is an essential word to know! It means “large,” “great,” “grand,” “important,” and so on. Say it with an “oo” as in “moon” and a schwa on the end. GROO-tuh.

Libben means “life” and is pronounced with an “ih” as in “live” and a schwa in the second syllable. Lih-buhn.

Begûn is from the verb begjinne meaning “begin” or “start” (old spelling: bigjinne). Bih-GOOn / BUH-gyih-nuh.

April 19, 2013

DE MAITIID - A Frisian Song - Part II

If you listen to the YouTube recording listed on Mam Lisa's site, starting at 1:57, you’ll notice a difference from what was covered in Part I. Instead of jin (you), they use the word ús, which means "our" or “us” and is pronounced with a vowel that sounds somewhat between an “ih” as in “bit” and an “ee” as in “creek.” EEs.

Studying Frisian is not always an exact science, especially with so few resources available in English. With that in mind, let’s look at the next few lines of “De Maitiid.” You might notice some variation between the pronunciations gathered from P. Sipma’s book and the online recording.

 De moaie maitiid mei syn blauwe loft…
The beautiful springtime with its blue sky…

Moai is a very useful Frisian word. It means “nice” or “beautiful” and is pronounced with the “oy” ending found in “boy.” Here, there is a final –e added in the Frisian and a final schwa added to our pronunciation. MOY-uh. According to P. Sipma on page 61 of his free book, this is because it is following a definite or indefinite article (de) and is modifying a masculine or feminine noun. At this stage, I’m personally not worrying about points of grammar too much, though.

Mei sounds like the English “my,” rhyming with “dye.” MIGH. You can spot the -ei combination­ in a number of Frisian words, including dei, discussed previously. Remember that the –ei­ diphthong sounds like the word “eye” when you see it. 

Syn means “his” or “its” and is pronounced like the English word “seen.”

Blauwe is the West Frisian for “blue” and is a cognate. It is pronounced with the –ow- diphthong in the English “vow” or the German word "Frau" and is followed by a schwa. BLAU-uh,

Loft means sky: just hink of the English word “lofty” to remember it. The vowel is a full “oh” like in “road” or “boat.” LOHFt.

Is foar minsken en foar blom grif it moaiste skoft.
For people and for flowers is certainly the most beautiful period of time.

Foar is said with a rounded “oh” followed by a long “ah” as in “father.” FOH-ahr. It means “before,” “for,” or “to.”

Minsken is the plural of minske and means "humans," "a person," or "men." It ends with a schwa vowel; according to P. Sipma, the first syllable has a similar vowel to the “ih” in “mint.” MIHNskuh. However, if you listen to the song, they seem to be saying it with more of an -ay sound like in “bay” or “day.”

Blom was discussed previously here. It means “flower” and is pronounced with an “oh” as in “roam.”

Grif is said with an “ih” so that it rhymes with “cliff,” at least according to Sipma. In the song, it does sound a bit different, doesn't it? In any case, grif means “certainly,” “surely,” or “truly.”

Notice the –ste ending on moaie in this line. Just like in English, -st indicates that the adjective is the most of something, i.e., the most beautiful.

Skoft is said with a full “oh” too, like loft.  It means a “period of time,” “a while,” or “a part of the day.”  SKOHft.

That’s it for the chorus. In Part III, we’ll look at one of the verses of “De Maitiid” that is not translated on the website. The first verse is about birds in treetops, but I cannot find translations for all of the words, so I’m going to leave it be and go straight to the second verse.

April 13, 2013

DE MAITIID - A Frisian Song - Part I

Let’s take a look at the lyrics of the children's song “De Maitiid,” introduced just below. I’ll start with the chorus, which is translated on Mama Lisa's website. The translation is very helpful, but it is not entirely literal. So we’ll break the song down word by word:

Dan komt de maitiid, maitiid yn it lân...
Then comes the springtime, springtime in the land…

Dan means then and is pronounced much like the English word “dawn.”

Komt means “he, she, or it comes” and is pronounced with a full, rounded “oh,” like in “road.” KOHMt.

De maitiid has been covered in the previous post.

Yn is a cognate. It means “in” and is prenounced with a long “ee” sound, as in “seen.” EEn. Remember to distinguish it from the West Frisian in meaning “a” or “an” and pronounced with a schwa.

It means “the” or “it” and is said with a schwa. UHt.

Lân means “land” and is pronounced with a long “ah” as in “father.”  Actually, it sounds a lot like the English word “lawn.” That should make it easier to remember. You also see this word in the West Frisian for Frisia itself: Fryslân.  Say it with a long “ee” in the first syllable, and accent on the first syllable. FREES-lahn.

Dan laket alles, alles jin sa oan...
Then laughs everything, everything (laughs) upon you…

Notice that the website translates this as everything smiles upon you, which conveys the connotation quite well: this is a nice children’s song, after all, celebrating the arrival of spring. When we say that everything is laughing at you in English, that is not so nice.

Laket means that something or someone is laughing. Say it with a long “ah” in the first syllable and a schwa in the second syllable. LAH-kuht. The infinitive of the verb is laitsje ("to laugh"), which is said like the word “lie” followed by a –ts- sound, a –y-, and schwa. LIGH-tsyuh.

Alles means what it looks like, “all.” Say the first syllable with the “o” in words like “pot” or “cot” that sounds very similar to a long “ah” and use a schwa in the second syllable. It sounds a lot like the English word “soulless” with the s- dropped and shorter –ou- sound.

Jin as several meanings, including a formal or plural “you.” It is said with a y- and an “ih” like in “bit.” YIHn.

Sa means “so” and is pronounced with an “ah,” rather like the English word “saw” with a less drawn-out vowel ending. This word shows up a lot.  Fortunately, it looks like its English cognate.

Oan has all kinds of meanings and appears all over the place in West Frisian. It can mean “on, to, in, upon, near, along...” and so on. Take a look at this online dictionary entry to get an idea of how versatile oan is. Say it with a round “oh” like in “boat” and a schwa before the final -n. OHuhn. I would not be too surprised if the schwa gets blurred away in the spoken language, though. So it might sound more like the word “own” in everyday speech.

That should be enough Frisian vocabulary for one day. Part II will be up soon.

April 2, 2013

MAITIID - "spring, springtime"

Maitiid looks like it could be about the month of May, but it is actually the word for all of spring. The vowels following the m- are pronounced like the word "my," with the same diphthong we have in words like "eye" or "nigh." The second part, tiid, means "time" and is said with the long "ee" sound in the English word "week." MIGH-teed. You can remember the sound of the first syllable by remembering that "springtime is nigh."

Let's see it in a sentence borrowed from Frisian Wikipedia:

De maitiid is ien fan de fjouwer jiertiden.
The springtime is one of the four seasons.

De means "the" and is pronounced with a schwa.

Is is just like its English twin "is," as mentioned before.

Ien means "one" or "somebody." It is said with a long "ee" like in "week" or "keen," followed by a schwa before the final -n. EE-uhn. I'm guessing that it might be hard to hear the schwa in regular speech, though. Maybe you'd just hear EEn.

Don't you just hate it when you pick up a foreign language book, and they expect you to memorize a whole list of numbers by chapter four? That is not a particularly effective way to learn, well, anything. People rely on context to retain information. So, that's my approach to my own studies and to this blog. No ridiculous lists. All right, stepping off my soapbox...

Fan is a great word to know. You hear it all the time in modern West Frisian. It is pronounced with the sort of "o" heard in the word "pot" or "on," similar to the long "ah" sound in "father." Actually, this word sounds a lot like the word for a young deer... FAWN. It means "of" or "by," but it shows up in all sorts of contexts. Note that P. Sipma spells it fen  if you are using his glossary from 1913. This is not the first time his spellings differ from modern use, by any means.

Fjouwer means "four" and is pronounced rather like the English word "flower," but with a -y- sound replacing the -l-. FYAU-uhr.

Jiertiden is the plural of jiertiid (see that word tiid again?), which means "season" or, more literally, " time of year."  The letter that looks like a "j" is pronounced "y," just like in German. Say the singular with a short "ih" vowel and let the -r- fall away: YIH-teed. The plural has a schwa in the final syllable. YIH-teed-uhn.

Finally, here is a Frisian children's song about the spring. We'll look into the lyrics in more detail soon, including some parts that have not been translated yet on the website.

March 28, 2013

HYNSTEBLOM - "dandelion"

I recently spotted a few dandelions making an early appearance, so they will be the topic of this post.

Hynsteblom literally translates as "stallion flower." Blom (a flower or bloom) is pronounced with the long "oh" vowel in the exclamation oh!" and  hynst (stallion) is pronounced with the short "ih" sound "hint." The middle vowel is the ubiquitous schwa. HIHNST-uh-blohm.

Let's look at a sentence about dandelions lifted from the entry at Frisian Wikipedia:

Yn april kinne se hiele greiden giel kleurje.   
In April they can color whole grasslands yellow.

Yn means "in" but is said with a long "ee" like in "seen." EEn.
Be careful not to confuse it with the West Frisian article in meaning "a" or "an" and said with a schwa (uhn).

Based on other entries, my best guess on april is a long "ah" like in "father" before the -p- and a short "ih" like in "still" before the final -l. But it is not among the entries in my admittedly outdated glossary.

Kinne means "can, may, or able to." It is said with a short "ih" like in the English word "kin" and ends with a schwa. KIHNnuh.

Se means "she" or "they" and is said with a schwa. Suh.

Hiel is the West Frisian for "whole." It is pronounced with a long "ee" like in "heal" followed by a schwa. HEEuhl. The ideas of being healed and being whole are connected, so remember the word  that way.

Greide means "grassland" and is pronounced with same the diphthong heard in "high," "tide," and "eye."  It ends with a schwa. GRIGH-duh.

Giel means "yellow" and is pronounced with a long "ee" vowel like in "seek" followed by a schwa. GEEuhl.

Finally, kleurje is the verb form of the word kleur or "color." The noun form is said with the purse-lipped "o" with an umlaut over it that is found in German, followed by a schwa. KLÖ-uhr. For the verb form, -je is placed on the end, which sounds like a y- immediately followed by a schwa. KLÖ-uhr-yuh. Note the similarity to its English cognate "color."

March 22, 2013

GJIN - "no, none"

Today's post is based on a Wikipedia article about Manx cats in Frisian as well as on P. Sipma's book. Gjin is a very useful word that means that there is none of something. It is pronounced similar to the English word "gin," but with a y- before the "ih" vowel. GYIHn.

In kat hat gjin sturt. 
A cat has no tail.

The word in is pronounced with a schwa and means "a" or "an." UHn.

Kat is pronounced like the English "cot," the little bed you might sleep on in a cabin or tent. Don't be fooled by its familiar look: it does not have the same vowel as its English cognate.

Hat - "he, she, or it has." The -a- is an "ah" sound like in "father." This comes from the infinitive verb hawwe, "to have," pronounced with an "ah" like in "father," a -v- in the middle, and a schwa at the end. HAHVuh.

Sturt means "tail," and its vowel is pronounced like the German "o" with an umlaut over it, like it rhymes with dirt, but with more of a rounded sound.

It is important to bear in mind that modern Frisian spelling sometimes differs from older sources. Sipma spells sturt as stirt. Another example I have found is the spelling of the word for "wall." Per Sipma, it is written mûrre, but some modern sources spell it muorre.  According to his glossary, it is pronounced with an "oo" vowel like in "moon" followed by an "oh" vowel like in the exclamation "oh!" and ends with a schwa. MOO-OHruh.

March 18, 2013

TSJUSTER - "dark"

Here's a sound we don't see often at the beginning of words in English. Tsjuster, "dark" or "darkness,"  begins with a sound like a t- in front of the word "chew" and ends with a syllable like the word "stir." TCHEW-stuhr.

Here it is in a sentence:

It bern is bang by tsjuster.
The child is afraid of the dark.

It means "the" or "it." As discussed previously, this word is pronounced with a schwa. UHt, rhyming with "hut."

Bern means "child" and apparently is pronounced with a "eh" vowel, like in "bear."  BEHrn. If you click on the link, you can see Frisian Wikipedia's entry on different kinds of children: babies, toddlers, etc.

Is is like "is" in English.

Bang is pronounced with the long "ah" in "father" and not like the American English word that looks the same. It means "timid, afraid, or concerned." However, a loud bang could certainly make a person afraid. BAHng.

According to P. Sipma's glossary, by is supposedly pronounced like the word "bay" and means "at, near, or with." However, that transcription is from a century ago. In modern usage it actually seems to be pronounced just like the English word "by."

March 11, 2013

SELS - "self"

Time for another cognate. Sels means "self" and sounds like the English word "sells," except the final -z sound might be a bit softer in Frisian.

A few examples of use:

Ik sels. "I myself." IHk SEHlz.

Hy wol it sels dwaen. "He wants to do it himself." Remember, hy  ("he") rhymes with the word "hay," the stuff horses eat. But we could also say she wants to do it herself, and use hja instead of hy.  Hja is pronounced much the way it looks, like the German word for "yes" with an h- in front of it. Or like the sound people supposedly make in karate. Hja!

Wol means "wants to" or "wills to" and is pronounced like "vole," the small, gray furry critters.

It means "it" or "the," but is said with the vowel schwa: UHt.

Dwaen means "to do" and is pronounced with a long "a" like in the word "father." DWAHn.

March 4, 2013

OER - "over" / Words for Winter

This preposition looks a lot like its English sibling, but is pronounced OO-uhr, with the long vowel sound in the word "moon" and a schwa before the final -r.

Here is a piece from Sipma's book, from a poem called Winternocht (Winter Joy). The Frisian word winter sounds like the English one, but with a v- instead of a w- at the beginning. Nocht has an "oh" vowel like in "boat" or "oh!" and the harsh "ch" discussed in the NACHT post just below.

Oer hûs, oer klûs, oer finne
Leit leeljeblank en wyt...

The accented û also has the long OO sound.

Hûs means "house" and is said HOOz, with a softer final -z than in English.

Klûs means "cottage" or a cell or hermitage. Say it KLOOz, also with the softer ending.

Finne means "pasture" or "grazing ground" and is prnounced with a short "ih" sound like the vowel in the word "bit" and a schwa at the end. FIH-nuh.

Leit, which sounds like the English word "light," means that something lies in a place, as snow might lie on the ground. Note that it has the same vowel sound, which will hopefully help with memorization.

Leelje means "lily" and has a long "ey" like in the word "bay" or the ubiquitous "eh?" used in some parts of Canada. It has a "yuh" sound at the end: a y- plus a schwa. The second part of the word, blank, means "bright" and has an "ah" sound as in "father."  LAY-LYUH-blahnk - "lily-bright."

En means "and." A nice, common word. Say it with a solid "eh" vowel like in "pen" or "hen."

Finally, wyt means "white." It begins with a v- and has the "ee" vowel found in the word "creek." VEEt.

So, the translation is:

Over house, over cottage, over pasture,
lies lily-bright and white...

We're reading about snow of course, but that raises another question: how do we say "snow" in Frisian?

"Snow" is snie. The vowels are another "ee" as in "creek" and a schwa on the end. SNEE-uh.

February 20, 2013

NACHT - "night"

Let's look at some words that are pretty consistent across several Germanic languages. Here is a sentence from P. Sipma's book, page 130:

Swart, aeklik swart, is nou de nacht (old spelling)
Swart, aaklik swart, is no de nacht (modern spelling)

Nacht means "night" and is pronounced with an "ah" sound like in "father" and a harsh "ch" sound like in "Bach" or "l'chaim!"--the sound that is rather like a hard "h" said by someone trying to clear their throat.

Swart means "black" and supposedly is pronounced more or less how it looks, with an actual "w" sound and rhyming with "art." A "w" often becomes more of a "v" in Frisian, but I suppose we'll trust the 100-year-old glossary. Apparently, the sw- combination at the start of a word is the same sound as it is in English.

We have already looked at is. It is like its English twin, including ending with a "z" sound. Perhaps the "ih" vowel is a bit shorter than we might sometimes say "is" in English. Really, though, this word is as easy as they come in a foreign language.

Aaklik is pronounced AHKluhk with a long version of the "ah" in "father and an "uh" (schwa) in the second syllable. It means "dismal" or "dreary," which is an awfully useful word to have at your disposal in late February.

No means "now" and is said like the word "no" or "know". Now you know how to say no.

De is another cognate. It means "the" and is pronounced with a schwa. It sounds like "duh," only with a bit of a shorter vowel than the rude little English word. 

Our translation will be "Black, dreary black, is the night now." Seeing as I'm typing this up well after sunset on a cold February night, this particular sentence certainly has some immediate relevance.

February 17, 2013

GOEIE - "hello, good..."

Goeie is a basic "hello" in Frisian. It's pronounced GOO-ee ("oo" as in English "mood" and "ee" as in English "see"). If you are a techie, just think of GUI interfaces to remember this word.

We can also say goeie moarn, or "good morning." Moarn sounds similar to English "morn," like the poetic form of morning. [Updated to add: the o can sound something like a -w- and the -r- sound often drops entirely, so moarn sounds like it rhymes with "swan."- Oct 2016] In recordings, sometimes the schwa in goeie seems to get subsumed by the more audible "oh."  GOO MWAWn.

I work rotating shifts, so I like to say "good day" to greet people, because sometimes 9 P.M. is "morning" to me but not to anyone else. I'm not sure if they say "good day" to greet people in West Frisian. But it's a good excuse look at the word for "day."

Dei is "day" is Frisian, but you pronounce it like the word "dye." Think of how the sun "dyes" the clouds with color at dawn. Then you'll always remember how to pronounce dei.

Let's look at some sentences:

Hy komt moarn. 
He comes at morning.

Pronounce hy like "hay," the stuff horses eat. That's the pronoun "he." You can see the resemblance to its English cognate in writing, though it is said differently.

Kohmt has that rounded "oh" sound like in "road": KOHMT. So, HAY KOHmt MOH'rn.

Lokkige jierdei! (or Lokkiche jierdei!) Happy birthday!

In lokkige, the o is a round "oh," but that is pronounced with a schwa, like "uh" and an "e" on the end of a word often also sounds like a schwa. By itself, jier  (meaning "year") is YEE-er. Strong "ee" sound like is "creek," with a schwa afterwards that may or may not be so audible.

But apparently, just to confuse us, jierdei  is pronounced with an "ih" as in English "bit" and drops the -r- and ends with a long "ee" as in "Eek! I've had it with this Frisian post!" So, LOHk-kuhg-uh YIHd-dee.

On that note, that's enough for this dye... I mean, dei.

February 15, 2013

OM - "round, for, at"

Welcome to Fun With Frisian, a very random exploration of a delightful language!

So, last Friday I happened upon a beer tasting. Microbrews, of course: we're talking about beer, not water. The Ommegang Brewery had the best samples, and I asked what the name meant. They said it's Flemish for "walking around" or "walking all about." How similar to Frisian!

The preposition om rhymes with our English "roam." You have to wander all about to roam, so remember om that way.

Om shows up in word combinations. E.g., omgean, "to go round, to frequent" from P. Sipma's free book and glossary, linked to the right.

Pronounce the om part like above, with that full, rounded "oh" sound.

The -ge- part is pronounced with a short "ih" sound, like in English "bit."

The -an part has the loose, undistinguished vowel sound (schwa) that shows up in the second syllable of the word "nation" or as an exclamation of pain ("uh!") if you drink too much Ommegang beer.

In omgean, the stress is on the first syllable. OHM-gih-uhn.

Let's look at om  in a sentence. Stil is 't rounom. Frisian roun, pronounced like the English word "rune," means round. Rounom means "on all sides, everywhere." ROON-ohm... keep that long "oh" sound with the om.

Is is the same as English in both looks and sound, but I repeat myself.

The apostrophe-t is short for it, meaning "it" or "the." It  looks just like the English word "it," but Sipma advises us to use that loose schwa sound with it  too. The full word sounds more like "uht" rhyming with "nut." Stil  is pronounced just like "still" and means the same thing: "still or quiet."

Stil is 't rounom (old spelling). 
Stil is 't rûnom (modern spelling)

Stillness is all around. Even on a Friday night.