De fersteanberens fan it Frysk foar dialektsprekkers


  • T. de Vries


This paper investigates the intelligibility of Frisian for speakers of Dutch
dialects. A group of 227 respondents, from ten different dialects, was asked
to listen to thirty Frisian words and to translate them. It was expected that
the people who live in the vicinity of Fryslân would have a higher score of
correct translations than the ones who live further away, because of the
likelihood of language contact. The second hypothesis was that respondents
speaking Gronings, Noord-Hollands and Drents would understand Frisian
better than the ones from other dialects, because of the presence of a
Frisian substrate in Gronings and Noord-Hollands and, on a lesser scale,
Drents. The conclusion, however, is that both hypotheses cannot be (fully)
confirmed. It turns out that the speakers of Gronings and Limburgs score
highest on the intelligibility, followed by speakers of Drents and Noord-
Brabants, even though Limburg and Noord-Brabant are not at all close to
Fryslân. The respondents from Noord-Holland, on the other hand, scored
lowest, but a negative language attitude to Frisian may have influenced
their motivation to understand the Frisian words. It should be pointed out
that some respondents used their knowledge of English to translate the
Frisian words. One possible explanation is that English in all probability is
their primary foreign language, but another one is that they take it for
granted that the Frisian language has a lot in common with English. A more
exhaustive investigation of the topic is required.