Old Frisian

Formerly spoken in

  • Indo-European Germanic West Germanic North Seeger Manic Old Frisian


The Old Frisian language is the common precursor of the modern Frisian languages. It is narrated in law books and documents from the 13th to the 16th century from the area between the Weser and the IJsselmeer ( Zuiderzee ).

The Old Frisian language has a very old-fashioned form and therefore can be put on the same level of development as the Old English, Old High German Altniederdeutsche or, even if it was likely written at the same time as the Middle English, Middle Low German and Middle High German.

  • 3.1 Older and younger Old Frisian
  • 3.2 " Altostfriesisch " and " Altwestfriesisch "

Comparison with other West Germanic languages

Following are some Old Frisian words with related correspondence from other West Germanic languages ​​to be compared.

In common with the Old English

The Old Frisian has undergone several developments volume together with the Old English, while the Altniederdeutsche occupies an intermediate position between the High German ( on one hand) and the Old Frisian and Old English ( the other).

In common with the Norse

Interestingly, there is in the Old Frisian features, which also has the North Germanic, not Old English or the Altniederdeutsche. Examples:

  • The plural ending for masculine nouns ending in - ar: Old Frisian and Old Norse dagar dagar ( "days" ), opposite Old English dagas and altniederdeutsch Dagos.
  • The numeral "two" with a r- suffix: Old Frisian Tver ( " two ") next twen, Old Norse tveir, opposite Old English twēǥen and altniederdeutsch twēne, twēna
  • The linguist Ernst Schwarz is also the sound changes from jun to these Frisian North Germanic parallels. For example, Old Frisian and Old Danish sjunga sjungæ, opposite Old English Singan ( Modern English to sing ).
  • He is also one of this rising diphthongs: Old Frisian and Old Norse sjuka sjúkna ( " ill ", " waste away ") to altniederdeutsch SIOK and Old High German SiOH ( "sick ", " faint "). In Altniederdeutschen and Old High German is io a falling diphthong, ie, with the emphasis on the first part i in Old Frisian and Old Norse in the emphasis on the second part of the diphthong, the u

Common with southern neighbor languages

The Old Frisian also has similarities with other West Germanic languages ​​, which are not to be found in Old English. An example of this is the lack of " rhotacism ". The rhotacism here is the transition from s to r (named after the Greek letter Rho name, "R" ). This lack of transition from s to r are in the Old Frisian word hasa ( Old High German haso, neuhochdeutsch Hare). In Old English, however, is that word hara hare in Modern.


The Old Frisian texts use the Latin alphabet without additional letters. For the dental fricatives you wrote th ( as in modern English ). See Voiced dental fricative and voiceless dental fricative. For the u - vowel and the consonant v and w we wrote quite irregularly u, v and w. See also U, V and W. The overrides for K and c were also quite arbitrary. The sounds i and j were both usually written as i. The length of a vowel is indicated only in the West Frisian (ie younger ) Old Frisian texts, by twice written vowels, for example ee for the long e to oe part was also, according to the Dutch model, written for long u. In modern editions of Old Frisian texts, the length of a vowel with a horizontal line or a circumflex is specified via the grapheme, as in Age or age ( " eye"). See also Edition Directive.

Variants of the Old Frisian

Older and younger Old Frisian

Within the Old Frisian, a distinction between an older and a younger form of the Old Frisian. The boundary lies at about 1450th The differences between the older and the younger form of the Old Frisian are at least as large as between Old High German and Middle High German. The term Old Frisian for the older and the younger form of speech had already been introduced, as the younger form of language was not yet sufficiently understood and you could not overlook the vast differences between the two forms of speech. Today we use the terms also classic Old Frisian Old Frisian and nachklassisches.

" Altostfriesisch " and " Altwestfriesisch "

Previously participated in the research that the differences between the two Old Frisian language forms not chronological (older compared to younger), but dialect differences are ( east against west ). Because the Frisian language was displaced as a written language in Groningen and in East Friesland from Low German, there is no from 1450 Old Frisian manuscripts from these areas more. Younger manuscripts thus originate from the area of present-day Dutch province of Friesland. The younger Old Frisian was therefore called Altwestfriesisch, the older Old Frisian Altostfriesisch.

Language area

Frisian is spoken in the Middle Ages in a considerably larger area than today. According to Klaas Fokkema were approximately the following areas to the medieval Frisian language area:

  • A narrow strip of the coast of Holland between the present locations Hoek van Holland ( near Rotterdam ) and IJmuiden ( IJ )
  • North Holland north of the IJ
  • Most of the West and East Frisian Islands
  • The largest part of the Dutch province of Friesland
  • The northern part of the Dutch province of Groningen, in approximately up to the city of Groningen ( Ommelande )
  • Ostfriesland north of Leer, the area around the Jade Bay including Wilhelmshaven, the Butjadingen with Nordenham, the Wursten ( Cuxhaven )
  • A small area north- west of Friesoythe ( Saterland )
  • Eiderstedt and the coast of North Friesland
  • The North Frisian Islands Sylt, Amrum, Fohr and the former island beach ( with Rungholt )

The graph shows the Frisian language area, with some variations, especially in the river delta of the Rhine and Meuse, and in South Holland. The discrepancies arise from the fact that the graph is in the 7th century ( the Frisia Magna ), the largest expansion of the Frisian area of ​​settlement, which was then reduced again by the spread of Frankish rule soon. ( It is not even clear whether the Frisian was ever really consistently spoken throughout the area of ​​Frisia Magna as a first language, and he may have been only superficially dominated in the question outskirts of Beading or sporadically inhabited by Frisians and the Frisian there possibly lingua franca. )