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The Emergence of Old Frisian

Versloot, A.P. (2011) The Emergence of Old Frisian.

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The Emergence of Old Frisian Studies such as Siebs “Geschichte der englisch-friesischen Sprache” (1886) or Gysseling’s article “Het oudste Fries” (1962), and other, more recent work by Nielsen, Århammar, Stiles, Van Bree and Bremmer, provide us with a pretty good idea of when and how Old Frisian emerged as a more or less separate branch of West-Germanic. These studies focus on the actual presence and relative order of mostly phonological and morphological developments that contributed to the emergence of North-Sea Germanic on the one hand and Frisian in particular, on the other. What could easily be overlooked when talking about Old Frisian is the enormous time gap between the earliest records of, e.g., Old English and Old Saxon on the one hand, and Old Frisian on the other, covering four till six centuries. What looks so coherent in hindsight may look far less clear when we actually enter this time frame and adopt a synchronic perspective on the 7th or the 11th century. It is not only this diachronic aggregation that might sharpen the image: when the meso-scaled diatopic variation (the intra-language dialectal variation) is taken into account, patterns become less transparent and contrasts more blurred. Using digital corpora from mediaeval Frisian and Old English, I will present the results of diachronic and diatopic analyses, showing the detailed processing of several typical North-Sea Germanic (incl. Frisian) features, such as: the shift of /a/ > /o/ in front of nasals, the drop of word final -n, the effects of i-mutation and delabialisation, the development of Proto-Germanic /au/. Given the lack of contemporaneous Frisian materials prior to 1200, we will have to rely on evidence from the Frisian dialects (esp. the North Frisian data can be very conclusive), supplemented with the scarce runic evidence.

Item Type:Lecture
Institutes:Fryske Akademy
ID Code:9177
Deposited On:05 Sep 2011 02:00
Last Modified:24 Apr 2012 16:41

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