The Frisian Vowel System Back to: language.htm

West Frisian differs from Dutch in vocabulary, in grammar, and in vowel system. 1 2 3 4

Like Dutch it has a four-step system of shorts:
y           oe  
  i       o   u  

and of longs and diphthongs, to which
it adds ai and the triphthong iuw:
    ee   oo         iuw     eu
              ij   au   ui  
      aa       ai          

In addition, however, West Frisian has
a number of 'curled' diphthongs:
ie           oe   ue
  ea   eo   oa      

and its 'broken' counterparts:*
i           uo   ju
  e       o      
as well as three 'stretched' vowels:
* The combinations i, e, o do not belong to the normal spelling.

With seventeen vowel phonemes more than Dutch, one may call this a 'rich' vowel system.

It must be stated, that other Frisian dialects have quite different, but also rather rich vowel systems. For a possible explanation of that 'wealth' see A phonematic catastrophy.