Frisian – The closest language to English

Frisian is the closest language to English. The separation between Old Frisian and Old English took place in the 8th century when each language began to evolve separately. Despite the geographical and historical separation of the languages, there are still similarities in terms of phonetics, sentence structure and vocabulary. English and Frisian share 80% of the vocabulary. However, modern Frisian and English are not mutually intelligible. Frisian is a native language of Friesland, Netherlands. It is also spoken in Germany. The language is spoken by less than 500,000 people.

There are three main varieties of the Frisian language. North Frisian is spoken in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany by 8,000 people, West Frisian is spoken in the Netherlands by 450,000 people while Sater Frisian is spoken by 2,000 people in Lower Saxony, Germany. North Frisian is not officially recognized in Germany but it is frequently used on a day to day basis. The language is taught in schools and adult learning programs. There are also broadcasts in the radio using the language and some newspapers are printed in North Frisian. Sater Frisian is taught in kindergartens and primary schools and a few theatrical performances in the language are shown from time to time. West Frisian is used during public occasions and is a medium of instruction in most schools. There are occasional broadcasts in the language on radio and from time to time newspaper articles are published using West Frisian. All the three dialects are mutually unintelligible, but speakers of one language will not have a hard time learning the other language. There are also some similarities between Frisian and Dutch, Danish and Low German.

Frisian is a West Germanic language. Germanic languages include English, Afrikaans, German, Dutch, Danish, Faroese, Icelandic and Swedish. These are normally classified into West Germanic and North Germanic languages. Afrikaans and Frisian are unique among the Germanic languages due to the fact that they have nasal vowels. Frisian has a lot of Dutch words due to the fact that it is easier to express complex social and cultural terms using Dutch. Most Frisian speakers can also speak Dutch.

2 Comments on “Frisian – The closest language to English”

  1. Pingback: What language is more similar to Italian? Spanish or French? - Page 3
  2. Although Westerlauwersk Frysk (what you call “Frisian”) is officially recognized, the effect of social stigmatization is still very strong, meaning: the language is associated with cows, being backward and farmers (all equally undesirable stigmata). People also believe that one has fewer chances in life with only “Frisian”.

    Then there is the fact that only about 10% of the people can actually write “Frisian”, while about 95% of the population claims to understand that which is left of this language that is much older than Dutch and has a long and rich cultural heritage.

    The educational system doesn’t do much good either …

    Praat dan dochs mar net safolle Frysk, ju …

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