As of 20 December, the villages of Eastermar and Damwoude both have the ‘Dutch’ premiere of opening the first ever Frisian-language supermarkets. The Alles onder één dak (Everything under one roof, in Dutch) in Eastermar and the Albert Heijn in Damwoude have their advertising and signs all in Frisian, thanks to the support of the Afûk foundation that helps promote Frisian language and culture.
Fokke Jagersma of Afûk explains that the products are all in Dutch with Frisian explanations, which is not as exciting as having it all in Frisian for locals and tourists alike. However, the staff speaks Frisian, a language spoken by about 400,000 people in a country of 17.5 million. And apparently, tourists want to see Frisian when they go to the province of Friesland, so who knows what the future may bring. As well, there’s talk of a visit from the Ministry of internal Affairs in February.
The province of Friesland is working together with tech giant Microsoft to finally get a Frisian spellchecker. Yes, other suites such as Open Office have Frisian spellcheckers, and there’s even plug-ins that the province has been involved in, but having a proper spellchecker in Microsoft Office is the goal.
A spokesperson for the project that will probably cost about 40,000 euro wants users to “no longer be afraid to use Frisian in a professional setting”. The spellchecker should be ready for testing this summer, but nobody knows exactly when it will be available in Microsoft Office.
The province will also be talking to tech giant Apple to see what can also be done to add more Frisian to their products.
After the ridiculous comments made by American commentator Katie Couric about the Dutch dominance in speed skating being the result of skating everywhere in the winter as a mode of transport and after apologising, but only after she received, as the Dutch would say, ‘buckets of shit poured over her’, it’s probably a good idea to find out how this dominance began.
Another rookie mistake made by Couric was equating Amsterdam with the Netherlands, something that grates more than a cheese grater at a Dutch breakfast table. Most Dutch skaters, if not all of them, come from villages nowhere near Amsterdam, often in the province of Friesland where people speak Frisian as well as Dutch.
Trigger warning: people used to skate on frozen canals back in the day, but due to milder winters, canals freeze less often, so people skate indoors. And yes, this woman is trying her best to pronounce Dutch names, but ‘Koen’ is ‘Koon’, not ‘Ko-en’ and I don’t understand how we got ‘Irene Worst’ out of ‘Ireen Wüst’ (more like ‘E-rain Woost’) or Netherlands (‘lands’ should be ‘lunds’).
The city of Leeuwarden together with the province of Friesland will be one of the Cultural Capitals of Europe in 2018. To mark the occasion, during Book Week in March, the traditional free book handed out will be available in a Frisian translation for the very first time.
Best selling Flemish author Griet Op de Beeck will have the honours of contributing a book to Book Week, entitled ‘Gezien de feiten’ (roughly, ‘Having seen (given) the facts’ in English and ‘Mei it each op de feiten’ in Frisian). Dutch and Flemish authors read each other all the time, but it’s television that tends to ‘localise’ Dutch and Flemish television shows. Fans of Dutch-language literature, which includes any kind of Dutch, is read by all without a fuss.
Two-thirds of the employees at Frisian TV station ‘Omrop Fryslân’, who claim to be the ‘guardians of the Frisian language’, have failed their own written Frisian test. Not only are most employees incapable of writing proper Frisian, but the station also receives millions of euro annually to be able to promote the Frisian language.
The many haters who think Frisian is a relic – and there are a lot of them – now have more ammunition to continue to shoot down Frisian culture. On the other hand, spoken Frisian has many differences depending where someone is from, which could account for a small percentage of failures: people who can speak it, but not write it. Then again, maybe they shouldn’t be working in the Frisian media.
‘How Metallica raised hell in De Westereen’ in Frisian with English subtitles gives you an idea of how laid back Frisians can be and how that worked to history’s advantage, like it did for Metallica.
This historical gig featured Twisted Sister as the opening act by mistake, making their hit song ‘We’re not gonna to take it’ that much more amusing, accidentally giving Metallica their first headliner in Europe. The bookers said to themselves, “they’ll be just as big as Iron Maiden”, and they were right.
The local church was less amused about having a ‘hard metal rock band’ play on Whitsun and asked the city to revoke the license for the show. The bookers’ answer to that was “but the Bible doesn’t say: Thou shalt not organise a hard rock concert” and
“church organs are loud, too”.
You’d assume the problems with the show for the church would be the lyrics because back in the 1980s all that devil talk was often banned. However, the Frisians in the documentary didn’t really understand the lyrics, so they didn’t care. The reverend at the time just thought it was too loud and not the best choice without any ranting and raving about blaspehmy like they did in the US at the time.
After looking at a few pictures, Metallica’s James Hetfield talks about hanging out with the fans, having a few beers and this one guy with real wooden clogs on.
Even if you’re not a metal fan, this video is still a great story.
‘How Metallica raised hell in De Westereen’ (English subtitles):
Supermarket Albert Heijn has advertised its delivery service throughout the province of Groningen on many billboards in Frisian (see pic), the language of the province next door, which irritated the locals. In Groningen the dialect is Grunnegs, which looks and sounds quite different, and in the case of the adverts implies that proud Groningen has been lumped in with the province of Friesland. Picture the Italian Captain Bertorelli of ‘Allo ‘Allo! saying “What-a-mistaka-to-maka!”.
Albert Heijn has admitted it messed up and will remove the adverts. I don’t understand how it even got that far.
The law says that if the letter of objection is submitted in a foreign language and a translation is needed to be able to process the objection, the person submitting the letter must provide a translation. The thing is, Frisian isn’t a ‘foreign’ language (as in from another country), it is one of the Netherlands’ recognised minority languages.
According to AD.nl, The NFP is waiting for an answer from the tax office about what their policy actually is with regard to what constitutes a ‘foreign’ language for them. As well, it’s quite surprising that nobody at the tax office in Leeuwarden is apparently capable or willing to read Frisian, considering that Friesland has some 350,000-400,000 native speakers. I have a feeling that if the tax office were to receive a letter in English or German that they wouldn’t have any problems with it, considering their site is partially in English and German.
During one of his last days in office former Education Minister Halbe Zijlstra has saved the bachelor programme Minorities and Multilingualism: Into the Frisian Laboratory at the University of Groningen (RUG).
The minister granted the program a subsidy of 120,000 euro per year, the provincial government reported last Tuesday. The RUG will sponsor the programme for the same amount.
After a fire broke out in the village of Bozum, Friesland last week, the provincial authorities were upset to find out that the emergency services could have dealt with the situation better had the person on the line been able to understand Frisian.
The resident who called to report the blaze was not understood in their native language, which goes against agreements made with the emergency services.
“Frisian is the country’s official second language, and in case of an emergency, any Frisian should have the right to express themselves in their own language.” I would add to that, especially in their own province.
This definitely applies to the elderly and to anyone anywhere in the world in a panic, as we all revert to our first language when under duress. Many haters can easily say that any other language than Dutch in the Netherlands is second-class nonsense, and if everyone just spoke Dutch, the country would be fantastic. Wrong.
If we all spoke English, Chinese or Spanish the world would be at peace. I’m being sarcastic.