Frisian Orthography

Matthew Chriswood

New Member
Danish - Denmark
Hello, everyone!

I just have a quick question about the Frisian language(s). I have seen multiple Wikipedia articles in, e.g., Northern and Western Frisian and I was just wondering if these languages have a specific orthography, i.e. are there rules that tell how a word is supposed to be written?

In comparison one can observe English and Swiss German. They are both active languages spoken by millions of people. English, on one hand, has a particular spelling. The word "English" is spelled "English" and it cannot be spelled "Inglish" or "Engglizh", regardless of how the writer pronounces the word. However, Swiss German, on the other hand, does not have an official orthography, i.e. words do not have a particular spelling as there is no official organisation that is in charge of the spelling of Swiss German words. This means that "Swiss German" in Swiss German can be spelled, e.g., "Schwytzerdütch" or "Schwiitzertüütsch" depending on the speaker's preference/ pronunciation.

So my question is, summed up: does Frisian have an official orthography like English and Dutch or is it just written as the writer would pronounce the words like in Swiss German?

Thanks in advance
  • ger4

    Senior Member
    Yes, the Frisian languages have standardized orthographies nowadays, unlike Swiss German and Low German. There are some West Frisian speakers on the forum so I'll just mention two North Frisian languages, Öömrang (spoken on the island of Amrum) and Mååring (spoken on the mainland) as I know next to nothing about the other varieties.

    With regard to their orthography, Öömrang and Mååring share these features:
    • short vowels are written as a single letter (a, e, i, o, u, ä, ö, ü)
    • long vowels are always written as double letters (aa, ee, ii, oo, uu, ää, öö, üü, e.g. politii 'police')
    • diphtongs (there are plenty) are spelt as pronounced, more or less
    • capitalization rules are similar to the Danish ones
    • palatalized consonants (occuring frequently) are marked with a following -j: dj, tj, sj, nj
    • w normally stands for the consonant /v/ but is pronounced as a vowel /u/ (or semi-vowel /w/) in syllable-final position
    These are some random words just to illustrate what two of the North Frisian languages 'look like' (English / Öömrang / Mååring):

    one / ian / iinj, ån
    two / tau / tou, twäär
    three / trii / tri, tra
    four / fjauer / fjouer
    five / fiiw / fiiw
    six / sääks / seeks
    seven / sööwen / soowen
    eight / aacht / oocht
    nine / njüügen / nüügen
    ten / tjiin / tiin

    I am / ik san / ik ban
    you are (sg.) / dü beest / dü bast
    he, she, it is / hi, hat, at as / hi, jü, et as
    we are / wi san / we san
    you are / jam san / jam san
    they are / jo san / ja san

    More explanations about Mååring on wikipedia

    Matthew Chriswood

    New Member
    Danish - Denmark
    Thank you for your insightful comment! The examples were great, too.
    Are the languages Mååring and Öömrang still actively spoken?
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