West Frisian spelling Back to Frisian.


The spelling of West Frisian is rather difficult because of the rich vowel system and the attempt to stay
rather near to Dutch and Old Frisian.


Vowels
We will treat the spelling of vowels referring to the Vowel System survey. Often the spelling depends on whether the vowel is in a 'closed' syllable (which ends in a consonant) or in an open syllable (which ends in the vowel).

VOWELS
Shorts
PHONETICALLY
symplified
SPELLING
in closed syllable
SPELLING
in open syllable
y
i
e
a

[i]
[I]
[]
[a]
[]
y : ryk, dyk
i : winkel, pit
e : les, tsjerke
a : acht, sa
o : of, noch, ljocht
a
in front of l, n, s, t:
al, man, as, dat
i : diken, wike
-
-
-
-
-
o
oe

u
[o]
[u]

[]
[y]
o : tolve, op, troch
oe : hoechst
: hn, jn
u : wurk, suster
: s, tn
-
oe : hoege
: sker, hnen

u suden, huzen
Longs
ee
aa
oo

[I.i]
[a:]
[o.u]

ee : heech, nee
aa : dwaan, taal
oo : hoopje

e : m
eter
a : tafel, twa
o : hope, no
Diphthongs
ai

ij

au

ui
eu

[ai]

[i]

[u]

i]
[i]

ai : laitsje, maits
ei
1 : meitsje, reis
ij : krijt
y :
only my, dy, hy
au : benaud
ou : boud
ui : stuit
eu : jeugd


ei
1: beide, nei
ij : trije, nij

au : gauwe, gau
ou : bouwer, frou
ui : trui, truien
eu: jeuzelt
triphthong
iuw

[jo.u]
 
iuw skriuwe
eauw leauwe
'curled'
diphthongs
ie
ea

eo


[i@]
[I@]
[@]
[@]


ie : Fries, ierde
ea : each, mear
: dr, bd
eo : sneon
eau : skreaun


ie : iene, fiele, wie
ea : eagen, nea
: bden
eu(r) : seure


oa
oe
ue
[@]

[o@]
[u@]
[y@]
: hn, ml
: f, stk
oa : doar, oan
oe : stoel
ue : suertsje
: mle, hlde
: rle
oa : toane
oe : oere, woe
ue : nuete, kuere
'broken'
diphthongs
2
i
e
o
uo
ju


[jI]
[j]
[wa]
[wo]
[j
]


ie : wiette
3, jierdei
ea : beammen
oa : skoalle, foar
uo : guon, stuollen
ju : lju, fjurren


-
-
-
-
-
stretched
vowels
ii



[i:]
[y:]

[u:]


ii : fiif, betiid
: drf
: hs, jns, ld


i : tige, tiden
u : druven
: lder

1) In this course ei is pronounced [ai], but in the east it is pronounced [i].
2) Apart from a few cases like foar, breaking appears in words of more syllables: plurals, derivatives, infinitives.
3) Consonants between a broken diphthong and another vowel are always written double: hearre, doarren, moanne, stuollen.

Outside this system is the non-stressed vowel (schwa), which is written e and pronounced like u.
It must be stated that this e is always pronounced at the end of a word. So ride is really a two-syllable-word: ri-de 'drive'.
It is often NOT pronounced in front of n: buorden 'shelves', lannen 'countries'.

Note: In capitals no accents are applied; e.g. placename Aldemardum (from ld).
Apart from indication of pronunciation, accents are sometimes used to indicate strong stress: wnkel, mn, dar, dorren.


Consonants are generally pronounced as in English, with the following exceptions:

b at the end of a word usually like p.
ch is a voiceless guttural sound like in Dutch and in Welsh.
d at the end of a word usually like t.
f is NOT pronounced in the word f.
g at the beginning of a word like in English good,
within a word usually a voiced guttural sound [(]
h is NOT pronounced in front of j and of broken vowels: hjir, hjoed, hearre, hoanne.
j like English y in yet, yoke.
k
l is NOT pronounced before d and t within word stems: ld, flde, kld, slt and in compounds of them: lder..,
but it is well pronounced when it is caused by composition of words: mlder from ml.
m is stretched in positions where it comes in front of vanishing n by occasional omission of e: lammen.
n is stretched in positions where it becomes doubled by occasional omission of e: lannen.
p
qu is usually written as kw
r is a rattling tongue-sound like in Welsh and Scottish.
is NOT pronounced in front of d, l, n, s, t: boerd, oarloch, bern, barst, koart.
s is always sharp like in engl. sister.
t is often NOT pronounced in combinations with two other consonants: kastje, wurdst, skeatst.
v like English v, only within words.
w like English v.
x is usually written ks.
z only within words.




Assimilation
In many languages neighbouring consonants are influenced by each other. Frisian shows in most cases REGRESSIVE assimilation, which means that the preceding consonant is the looser.

1. So voiceless consonants (ch, f, k, p, s, t) become voiced in front of voiced occlusives (d, b):
doch dat [do( dt] 'do it!', of dr [ow dr] 'or there', ik doch [ig doch] 'I do', opdwaan [obdwaan] 'acquire', is de [iz de] 'is the', it docht [ed docht] 'it does', tdwaan [ddwaan] 'take off', op bd [ob bt] 'in bed', s bern [z bn] 'our child(ren), it bist [ed bist] 'the animal'.
Also often voiceles fricatives (ch, f, s) become voiced in front of other voiced consonants or of vocals: doch mei [do( mai] 'join!', of ik [w ik] 'or I', is it [iz et] 'is it', ik doch it [ik do( et] 'I do it', of wol [w wol] 'or well', is no [iz no] 'is now'.
  Exceptions: Frisian shows PROGRESSIVE assimilation of articles and pronouns with a front-d and of the adverb dr 'there' after occlusives: op dy [op ty] 'at the', dat dr [dt tr] ' that there', dat dat [dt tt] 'that the', t disse [t tisse] 'out of this'. This is possibly caused by the fact that those words had th in front in Old Frisian .
In case of the very frequent de 'the', the voiced consonant disappears: op 'e [op e], t 'e [t e], which also occurs after nasals: fan'e, oan'e, yn'e, om 'e. Frequent as 'if' is often realised like [t], caused by confusion with oft [t] 'whether'.

2. The consonant n is pronounced:
like m in front of b, m, p, e.g. in nbekend 'unknown'.
like ng in front of g, k, e.g. in mankundich '(one) man knowing', ngelok 'accident'.
is NOT pronounced before f, g, j, k, l, ng, r, s, v, w, z, causing the preceding vocal to be NASALISED, e.g in kaanfer 'camphor', fansels 'of course', nsin 'nonsense'. (compare Frysln).
Final n is pronounced like m behind b, m, p, often in plurals when e is omitted: robben 'seals' , lammen 'lambs', lappen 'rags'.
Final n is pronounced like ng [0] behind k, often in plurals: bokken 'bucks'.