The Frisian Language

goeie dei!

Everyone knows that Friesland is unique. Maybe it's the number of cities (eleven), maybe it's the weather (changeable), or maybe it's the people (wonderful). However, one thing that definitely sets Friesland apart is its language. Frisian is a richly diverse ancient language, and was once spoken by almost everyone on the North Sea coast of Europe.

Unfortunately, when the modern-day Province of Friesland was invaded by the Duke of Saxony in 1498, Dutch became the operational language of the region. However, the strong oral tradition of Frisian has meant that 470,000 people speak Frisian, with a diaspora that stretches even to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

For anyone visiting Friesland, their first experience of Frisian will likely be staring, confused, at a sign post that seemingly has too many letters printed on it. But, if you dig a bit deeper, there are some glorious Frisian words that encapsulate certain feelings that you just can't express in any other language.

So, check out some of the best and most unique Frisian words below. Naturally, translating them is a bit difficult, but we've tried our best!

Oankrûpe: cuddling up to someone. You might be cold. You might be in love. Either way, it's Oankrûpe

Deljaan: literally, to 'settle down'. Not in the way a teacher might tell a class of children to be quiet, but more 'I'm going to settle down under that tree, in the sun, and read my book'. Napping is optional, but encouraged.

Klûmsk: slightly related to the English word 'clumsy', you're 'klûmsk' if you're a bit shaky, or unstable. If you're in that sort of mood where just looking at a picture of a cat makes you tear up, you're probably a bit 'klûmsk'

Grutsk: like pride. But bigger. 'Grut' is big, the 15th Century Frisian hero Grutte Pier was (apparently very) big, and now Leeuwarders are 'Grutsk' when people visit!

Bjusterbaarlik: if you use Google Translate for this, it comes up with 'mind-blowing'. This is getting into the right area, but it's still not quite right. So, learning the true scale of the universe can be 'bjusterbaalijk', but when your cousin, the one you remember being five years old, suddenly goes to university? That's truly 'bjusterbaarlijk'!

So, next time you're in Leeuwarden, and you'd like to 'deljaan', and its cold, so you 'krûpe oan' up to someone, but the city is so 'bjusterbaarlik' that it makes you feel a bit 'klûmsk', remember to feel 'grutsk' about the fact that you can tell 'Liwwadders' about how you feel!

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