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.